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I actually finished this book (Spontaneous Happiness by Dr. Andrew Weil) awhile ago.

I’m not much for self-help books.  I generally find the boring and not terribly helpful.  To be vague about it, I think self-help books deal with symptoms and not the root cause.  But anyway, I picked up the book because I like reading the odd column I find written by Dr. Weil on the various news sites I visit and I was curious as to what he had to say about happiness and what he did about his depression (he suffered from dysthymia).

Dr. Weil promotes the idea of emotional well-being in his book as opposed to the very general term, “happiness.”  Happiness is hard to measure.  I mean, how happy are you supposed to be at any time to be considered healthy?  Also, being happy means different things to different people.  Thus, Dr. Weil does not consider “being happy” the neutral point of emotional well-being.

Dr. Weil puts forth the idea that we should reconsider happiness, which he associates as a response to outward things, as our emotional neutral zone to contentment, which he defines as something that is more enduring and something outside of satisfying needs and desires.  To this end, he speaks of his medical model of integrative medicine, in which you do not treat a person as a biological machine, in which some input gives you an output just through chemical means, but that emotional health and biological health are intricately tied together.  Thus, the book provides advice on biological means on which to help stabilize mood and also strategies from psychology, all toward the means of supporting emotional wellness.  Toward the end of the book, there is an 8-week program that can be tailored to the reader’s needs.

I like his effort in refreshing the medical model and what he says in this book about how integrative medicine is needed in treating what seems to be an epidemic of depression (as well as everything else).  If nothing else, this book gives some perspective on your well-being as a whole person.  Emotional health is just as important as biological health if YOU are going to be healthy.  I would recommend this book if you’d like some tips in maintaining your emotional wellness, or at least look at emotional health in a different way.

By the way, this book isn’t treatment for major depressive disorder.  You need to see your doctor about that.

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