The title of the book is Happiness Discovered and as the title suggests it’s the discovery of happiness. It gives an overview of the history of happiness research; the various philosophies of happiness, starting with Aristippus of Cyrene (435 – 354 B.C.); the psychology of it, including of course positive psychology. The book elaborates on the biology of happiness, emphasizing Psychoneuroimmunolgy (PNI) previously known as Behavioral Medicine. This chapter in particular is very important to me, since it very strongly demonstrates the impact of our feelings on our physical body. Happiness Discovered shows that everybody can learn to be happy and it provides tools for it and the know-how to use them. But it is not overly prescriptive and it is considerate of the different backgrounds and, most importantly, the different mindsets of the readers. The book is not about angels and fairies, miracles and wonders. It focuses on the real world and its realities, and it is for real life people with real life concerns.
Tell us something about yourself.
Originally I am from Austria, but I spent many years, also some of the formative ones, in Africa. Mainly in the southern regions of Africa, for example the Republic of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. 1995 I left Africa for good and went to Switzerland where my wife hails from. Two years later we moved to England, and 2005 from there to Spain, where we still live. I am a psychotherapist and during my very long professional career I have assisted literally countless people to overcome a wide variety of anxiety and mental disorders, or with family issues such as discordant relationships, or with their personal development.
I only realized a relatively short time ago that most if not all of my work was always geared toward helping people realize their potential, finding a meaningful life and in the end be happy.
What inspired you to write this book?
Two years ago I retired from hands-on work. Firstly, because my wife thought that it was about time to do so – I am now 71 years of age. Secondly, my health did not perform as well as I wanted it to perform. But I have this vast store of experience, which I didn’t want to just go to waste. Happiness Discovered gave me the opportunity to reach out to a great number of people and, hopefully, help them to become happy.
How did you choose the title?
Brainstorming with my wife. I say that I came up with the title, she says that this is not so and that it was her idea, just as the cover design was her idea. Hmm, she may have a point.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
It’s self-published.The print version I did it with Create Space and with considerable technical help of the community there. There were only very few minor teething problems, other than that it was plain sailing. The other formats – epub, Kindle, Sony etc – I did with Smashwords. Also there I had no problems whatsoever.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
For about 3 years I did a series of radio programs for a regional station, in which I talked once a week for 1 hour about matters of the mind. Just before my retirement this series came to an end. Many times the producer of this show had suggested to me to put my thoughts to paper. Happiness Discovered is the first outcome.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Only that I work at my best in the mornings between 9.00 am and 1.00 pm.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
I learned quite a bit about the subject matter – happiness. As I developed the ideas new insights popped up and made me think about it. I also learned that sometimes an idea that appears to be a splendid one as long as it is just an idea, oftentimes changes and turnes out to be unworkable or even stupid.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I didn’t have an editor; and that was one big mistake. I had to re-read the book too many times to count and still found typos or other errors. Other than that I don’t think I am going to change anything.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
Writing Happiness Discovered took me back to books read many years ago; I read them again and I had great pleasure doing so: Alfred Korzybski / Manhood of Humanity, Maslow / Motivation and Personality, Bandler / Strucure of Magic to name just a few. Written 30, 35 and 60 years ago they are as current now as they were all those years ago.
For fun and relaxation it’s Elmore Leonard, James Elroy, Michael Connelly and Karin Slaughter.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
The working title is The Power of Thought Discovered. It is how we can influence our feelings and emotions using our cognitive abilities in order to change our life. It is based on the presupposition that our actions are governed by our feelings and not by our ability to use logic and reason.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Take your time. Get your research spot on. Write in your “natural language”; don’t try to sound sophisticated if you are not; you will come across as being just pompous. Getting a book ready for print is not done with just writing it. Allow at least twice as much time for your re-writes.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
People who have at least some passing interest in psychology, who are open minded and not biased. Certainly people who want to learn about happiness, and most certainly those who want to be happy. No matter how dreadful their situation might appear to them, there is always room for happiness. I was diagnosed for the second time in my life some 6 months ago with cancer. I am a very happy man. This is not mutually exclusive. I am happy not because I have cancer; but in spite of it.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?