Andrea Polard is a German-born author and clinical psychologist with an extensive background in psychodynamic therapies, meditation, and Erickson mind-body work. Now practicing what she calls "Zen Psychology" in the Los Angeles area, she continues her mission to reduce suffering and promote happiness for individuals wherever they may be. A Unified Theory of Happiness charts Polard's 20-year study of the vibrancy and meaning that comes to those who combine the active Western "Basic Mode" of consciousness with the non-active Eastern "Supreme Mode" of consciousness. Or as the author puts it in more simplistic terms:

"The active way makes us get our hands dirty, plant the seeds, harvest the fruit, and share it with friends and family. The nonactive way is seeing the interplay of hands and dirt, plants and seeds, sun and fruit, friends and family. Neither way is enough by itself."

Happiness stems from blending of the active and non-active modes of consciousness. Polard discusses the four tools of the Basic Mode: ambition, competence, connection, and confidence. There are helpful exercises following each of these tools which contain something to think about, exploring your feelings, and things you can do (movies, books, and practices).

This section of the book leads naturally to a consideration of the qualities which enhance and sustain "The Supreme Mode" of consciousness: receptivity, tranquility, reliance, and lightheartedness. All of these combine to a realization of "no self" and our natural immersion in the flow of life.

Psychologist Polard has fashioned a compelling map of the good things which can grow out of a synthesis of Western science and Eastern wisdom.