Book Review: Live More Happy
by Simon Matthews
CEO, Wellcoaches Australia
How happy are you? Did you know that happiness influences your health? Did you know that you can influence your happiness
LIVE MORE – Happy is the third book from Dr Darren Morton, Director – Lifestyle Medicine and Health Research Centre at Avondale University College in Australia. Published in 2018, its message is as relevant as ever today.
Morton is a leading researcher in lifestyle medicine and has been published widely in medical and scientific journals. To understand the context for this book, it’s useful to also understand a little of his passion for lifestyle medicine and its link to happiness.
In 2016, after several years of researching and observing the ways in which discoveries in neuroscience, positive psychology and lifestyle medicine could impact happiness, Morton developed The Lift Project, a 10-week program which in an early study led to some marked changes in experiences of depression, anxiety and stress. Since then, The Lift Project has been a Profit – for – Purpose and has raised over $50,000 for various charities. Morton’s ultimate goal is to “lift” 10,000,000 lives.
LIVE MORE – Happy is the outworking of that program and neatly covers current neuroscience research related to happiness for the every-day reader. Having an experience of happiness, or even joy, is central to behaviour change. Why would we make any change in our lives, regardless of what health benefit it may bring, if it didn’t also bring some measure of happiness or contentment in some way?
Beginning with the links between motivation and happiness, Morton walks us through the function and power of the brain’s limbic system, the strong links between physical movement and positive emotional experience and the influence that diet has on happiness. In one British study he discusses, a strong dose-response relationship was uncovered between fruit and vegetable consumption, and happiness.
He goes on to demonstrate the influence that lifestyle factors we so often take for granted directly, and indirectly, influence our level of happiness – sleep, social connection, stress management, service to others and simply getting out in nature.
Every chapter explores the science in an approachable way – Morton has a capacity to take the big ideas and complex research findings and distill them in a way that allows the reader to understand and apply in their own lives – each chapter concludes with some practical steps to take, grounded in positive psychology.
LIVE MORE – Happy is a book to read if you want to learn more about the aspects of your life you can control to experience greater happiness and contentment. It’s approachability and practical application make it universally appealing. It’s also a book for health and wellness coaches, forming a trove of well-researched science and ideas for personal change. In the hands of skilled coaches, the book’s ideas can be transformed into open appreciative inquiry which will cultivate in their clients a sense of control and even an urgency to experience greater happiness and health in their own lives.