Robert Holden is the director of The Happiness Project and Success Intelligence. His innovative work on happiness and success has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and in two major BBC-TV documentaries shown in 16 countries to more than 30 million television viewers. In this adventuresome book, Holden reviews 16 years of work with the Happiness Project, the transcripts of an eight-week course he created around it, his correspondence with people who took it, and his notes and research.

Holden discovered that happiness is not only very important to people around the world, it is a goal that unites everyone. In surveys, he found that individuals rank it above goals such as wealth, health, and success. There are three types of happiness — pleasure, satisfaction, and joy — but only the last one really hits the mark. The author is convinced that "the real purpose of happiness is to help you retrace your steps back to your original nature"; that is why it is a spiritual path.

Happiness accompanies times of genuine connection, the state of being present, and the pursuit of intentions, choices, and attitude. The miracle of self-acceptance is the lure that draws unconditional happiness into your life. Another piece of advice from Holden is that people should not be afraid to confront their unhappiness and work through the nettlesome emotions which lie behind it.

Throughout the book, the author delivers spiritual practices which can enhance and deepen happiness. In the section titled Follow Your Joy, he includes The Heart Experiment, The Vow of Kindness, and The Well-Being-Pledge. In successive chapters on choosing happiness, the happiness contract, gratitude, and the daily unconscious, Holden digs into the challenges of being happy in a busy, stressed-out, and conflicted world. One of his favorite mantras is: "There are no shortages, only a lack of willingness to receive." Living with an open heart is an essential dimension of happiness.

We all have to find our own understanding of this quality: it does no good to cling to what we learned about it from our family, friends, or communities. Relationships can be suitable teachers of happiness but we have to have patience and resilience to learn from them. Holden heads to the finale by discussing several of his most important slogans:

• "You can never become happy, but you can always be happy."

• "Happiness is giving up all resistance to letting go."

• "It is because the world is so full of suffering that your happiness is a gift."

Here are some of the symptoms of a genuinely happy person (see if they fit you):

1. Presence
2. Acceptance
3. Selflessness
4. Authenticity
5. Equanimity
6. Wisdom
7. Altruism
8. Enthusiasm
9. Kindness
10. Love