Title: This Book Will Make You Happy
Author: Jessamy Hibberd & Jo Usmar
Source: Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review
Tl;dr: All about cognitive behavioral therapy.
Who doesn’t want to be happy? I read my fair share of “self-help books”, partly because of my fascination with self development and productivity and partly because of my background in psychology and an interest in how pop-psych does stuff. This book, with it’s sunny cover, lighthearted title, and just 160 pages, seemed a perfect book in between more serious reading. I hoped it would come with easy tips and practices on how to cultivate the happy things in your life.
I was wrong. This book is not about making yourself happy, this book is about depression and one of the common therapies given to people with depression: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I was caught of guard by this, because depression is not just “not happy”. It is a, often debilitating, disorder, which covers way more than just “a low mood”. Also, the book states a few times that everyone can beat depression. How nice that may sound, this is simply just not true. It perpetuates a myth that if you just work hard enough, you won’t be depressed anymore (which is a kind of victimblaming, and this kind of thinking is quite prevalent in Western society). Often, depression, especially the chronic kind (dysthymia, in the new DSM more clearly called persistent depressive disorder), can be managed by therapy and/or medication, but not “cured”. Also, if you had one major depressive episode. Chances are, you’ll have one again. The wikipedia article on depression can tell you more
However, of CBT* this book gives quite a good overview. It talks about how thoughts are not the truth, how you can recignize negative thoughts patterns and about how you can change those those thoughts. It mentions mindfulness and living in the moment, which can be a great help with mood disorders. It talks a lot about making time for yourself and actually planning those nice things (and one of their main examples of “something nice” is having a cup of coffee, and that I can get on board on). And about writing in your diary, really analysing when you felt what and what thoughts acompanied the feeling. This stuff can be helpful for everyone, also people who are not depressed.
I still think this book would’ve been nicer if it wasn’t depression-focused, but it does give actual good advice in a nice, short, easy to read, format. And it gives you a good starting point for getting more into DIY CBT.
*The perv in me always reads this as “Cock and Ball Torture”; a common acronym in kink-minded communities.