The US Review of Books
reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW
“This book is meant to define the differences between pleasure and happiness as two distinct opposite states of mind.”
This book examines numerous topics with the goal of teaching others how to find and experience happiness in life. Chapters such as “Desire and Fear,” “Human Nature,” “Society,” “Truth,” “Harmony,” “Simplicity,” and “Wisdom” are filled with one or two sentences for each axiom. The strength of the book lies in the chapters on nature, aloneness, peace, and enlightenment, for they offer significant wisdom. At any point, the reader can pick up the book and read any axiom, any page, or any chapter to help along the path toward happiness. Examples of the axioms include: “Alone is all-one, a peaceful, tranquil, quiet answer to life” and “To fear you will be feared; to hate you will be hated; to love you will be loved.”
There is an interesting combination of Ayn Rand philosophy and Buddhist beliefs. Examples include: “All attachment to desire or fear is suffering” (Buddhism) while “Marriage is a function of becoming slaves to our desire for pleasure and fear of pain” or “We should not allow society to govern our thinking because that’s not free thinking” is pure Ayn Rand. Likewise, it focuses on the intellect as superior to feelings instead of a dialectical concept of both intellect and feelings. The exception to the problem of feelings is that of happiness, the one true feeling. This is shown in these axioms: “We are led by our emotions or we lead by our thinking” and “What we feel is not important, but what we think is.”
No matter how one views this work, it’s easy to see that the author writes with conviction about his beliefs, even if at times it seems as if the work contradicts itself. But these contradictions can be an excellent way to work through one’s own convictions and possibly grow with such exploration.
The US Review of Books (first chapter review only)
Byer has come to a self-truth which was marked by the end of a long-time career and the beginning of a desire for a deliberate life. This truth ultimately led to freedom from within, something portrayed right from the start in this first chapter. Happiness is Chosen Wisely captivates on the principle that we are not using our brains for higher thinking, but as an emotional vehicle instead. Herein lays the struggle of mankind to become enlightened without stress or fear. By using our brains for higher thinking, we will ultimately become blissfully happy and fulfilled. Byer establishes the tone early on and promises to deliver thoughtful and educated clues into becoming a happier person, including diving into the background and science behind the study of neurology in cohesion with higher thinking. The best-kept secret is that our minds will do the work for us. The journey appears promising to transform its readers into a state of awareness and reasoning.
Midwest Book Review
by Diane Donovan, Senior Book Reviewer
Happiness is Chosen Wisely began as a cathartic search for truth and happiness and evolved into what it is today: a consideration of how happiness and pleasure are really two different states of mind, and how they dovetail: “The cause of happiness is peace, calm, tranquility, bliss and harmony, but the effects are the same as the cause. This is our absence of desire from our higher thinking, wisdom, and enlightenment without any stress, anxiety or despair at all.”
While the book contains over 3,000 axioms, it actually represents an abridged version of the original. If this still sounds like too much reading, be advised that Happiness is Chosen Wisely also chooses its words wisely, making the most of each axiom by numbering them so they clearly stand out, creating simple one-liners with a punch, and organizing the results to lend to smooth reading even for busy readers on the go.
As far as content, sample a few: “It is more pleasurable to have fun with others than to be peaceful and calm,” or “Our life becomes a love or hate relationship without thinking about it,” and “When one realizes that all we may have sought was meaningless, we are reborn free.”
Life isn’t a race, and neither is reading this book. Readers who choose just a few axioms a day and take the time to reflect on them will find the many words of wisdom not only resonate but offer direction that embraces spirituality, psychology, and social considerations.
It’s taken Byer half a life to identify and rid that life of what is meaningless. Readers on the road to true happiness now have a map offering clues of what those distractions may be and how to stay true to a journey that might take a few less years, thanks to this collection.
New age and inspirational readers will be the best audiences for Byer’s works; particularly those who decide to take the time to absorb so much wisdom – the work of a lifetime – without haste, cognizant of the idea that a new way of thinking, viewing, and living life could be the reward for a careful pursuit of Happiness is Chosen Wisely.