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Title: "Are We HAPPY Yet? Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life"

Author: Lisa Cypers Kamen

Publisher: Dragon Gypsy Inc. Publishing

Lisa Cypers Kamen starts by having us look at a glass with blue liquid and arrows pointing to whether it is half full or half empty. It depends upon how an individual perceives it. Happiness is not instant gratification.

She says to be sustained "it requires attention, intention and action" and that "Happiness is emotional muscle-tone that is: soul-centered, heart focused, authentically, intimately, interdependent and interconnected." How does one attain all that?

A starting point is finding our own happiness factor, herein called H-Factor. We can determine this by taking a series of interesting quizzes similar to those of the past in teen or women's magazines. (Perhaps they still have them?)

There are 40 to 65 questions in each section with answers rated one through five as never, rarely, sometimes, often or always. One is to judge how much emotional currency we have in our capital reserve account. When the answers are added up, they will show our H-Factor to be anywhere on five steps from very high to very low. Another survey is labeled Happiness Quotient, HQ.

I did all of them, totaled the answers and learned, no surprise here, that I am basically a happy person. My happiness bank shows that I am a happiness millionaire with reserves to help me cope through adversity; my HQ score means that I have good life-coping skills and that I am resilient to forces that could undermine my basic happiness if I let them.

Kamen's book lists eight keys to happiness; the first three keys are covered in the early paragraphs. The next, key #4, states: "We cannot control life, only ourselves; #5: Our happiness is our own responsibility; #6: Choose activities and people that foster happiness; #7: Treat yourself as you wish to be treated;" and "#8: Happiness is an inside job." Sounds fairly simple with good advice, yet is anything but simple. Kamen's sub-topics texts from keys #4 through #8 read like a college course I took, Psychology 405.

The self-help quizzes in these sections required more "thought" than I was willing to expend, to write a paragraph for each of the many questions. I think anyone choosing to read this book to find happiness would get discouraged after the first three chapters. By the time a reader struggled with all that work, he or she would just throw the half full or half empty glass and book away.

Virginia Luger lives in Bismarck.