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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
The Happiness Upgrade: One Small Step Up to a Happier Life by Gabrielle Lichterman is a non-fiction self-help guide to get readers to employ small, meaningful actions when they are feeling anything but contentment. Lichterman begins with an introduction to herself and the reasoning behind the Happiness Upgrade method she created out of necessity for herself. Struggling with clinical depression at a time when it was not yet understood even by many medical professionals, one particularly crippling episode found Lichterman checking into a hospital with a mental health crisis—and then checking out several hours later when she still had not been seen or even acknowledged. She turned inward and determined that even the tiniest, seemingly irrelevant act of mindful self-care could not only help her emotions a little at that moment but keep them from imprinting for obsessing over later on. A ten-step scale and a 52-week prompt journal further aid in engaging readers in action.
The Happiness Upgrade is pretty simple and very straightforward. There is not a great deal of time or effort required, although in fairness, when in the throes of a depressive episode both the perception of time and the mental and physical barriers that hamper any effort is relative. But please do try because it is helpful. The first two dozen pages read a little like a lengthy pitch on the method, but after Gabrielle Lichterman shares a profoundly honest story, we move from the 'why' and into the 'how', the very thing that got us to pick the book up, to begin with. The method is thoroughly covered in just a few pages. The bulk of the book [about 75% of it] is a 52-week journal with prompts for genuine upgrades of happiness. Each weekly entry provides a specific action, followed by an explanation of why it works and suggestions on how to implement it. These range from spending quality time with your pet to reflecting on what you are thankful for. Overall, I think that Lichterman's method would be an excellent complement to therapy and the journal is thorough in making this possible. Recommended.