How to be Happy: Not a Self-Help Book. Seriously

Iain S. Thomas

Central Avenue Publishing is proud to publish another book by the widely acclaimed poet Iain S. Thomas. As many have noted on various social media platforms, there have been some issues that have led to the delayed release of this book. For this, we apologise and hopefully the content of the book will clarify the circumstances surrounding this delay. We feel we should also point out that this is not technically a self-help book, but it does contain some poignant prose, poetry and stories which may or may not lead you to happiness.

Mostly, it is the rather unfortunate chronicle of a man's attempt to write the book he’s promised his publisher, no matter the cost to his sanity.

ISBN Trade Paperback: 978-1-77168-031-8
196 pages
List Price: $13.95
Published: July 26, 2015

Praise for Iain S. Thomas

***** Honorable Mention, New England Book Festival 2015

"One of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Ever." — BT, Grammy Nominated Composer and Technologist

"This is me. This is you. This is us. This is every human being, past and present, old and young, of every ethnicity, race and faith. Our every complex human emotion translated into words. Someone knows and someone understands. This is the essence of what it truly means to be human." — Ethar El-Katatney, CNN African Journalist Of The Year, award-winning journalist, blogger and author.

"The magnificent beauty of I Wrote This For You is quite simply this: the book is elegantly incomplete without you. No one else in the world can read it the way you do. No one." — Matthew E. May, Author of The Elegant Solution, In Pursuit Of Elegance, The Shibumi Strategy

"I bought the 'I Wrote This For You' book in actual, real-life paperback, and it soothes my soul. Buy it if you can." — Laura Prudom, Associate Editor for AOL/HuffPo TV


Firstly, understand that you should be happy and if you’re unhappy for a long time, that’s not natural.

The majority of the human race isn’t always unhappy and just pretending to make it by. I mean, sure, everyone’s struggling and we are all, “fighting a great battle,” as someone smarter than me once said but we’re supposed to be happy.

Secondly, drink more water. There’s a very good chance, or at least I read in a study somewhere, that if you’re depressed it could be because you’re dehydrated, so the solution could be as simple as that. If you want to go and get a glass of water right now before you carry on reading, you can do that.

Thirdly, you probably need to exercise. If you don’t exercise, you don’t have energy and energy is what lets you do stuff which makes you happy. Besides, it’s hard to be happy if you feel unhealthy.

If you smoke, it’s hard to always have that voice at the back of your head going, “You should quit smoking, you should quit smoking, you should quit smoking… come on,” because then you end up spending all your mental energy on that instead of devoting it to doing stuff that makes you happy. There’s only so much space in your head, leave some of it open for being happy.

Note: I have brought up either “to do stuff” or “doing stuff” to make you happy because “stuff” itself can’t make you happy, only “doing stuff” will make you happy.

Don’t sit on the couch while someone vacuums around you, feeling horrible about the fact that you can’t move because you’re too depressed. Don’t feel like a ghost. Like the memory of someone who
used to look like you but now doesn’t know exactly who they are. Get up. Don’t feel like a feather, drifting out of control on someone else’s breath. Although if you think of yourself as a feather or believe
that feeling like a feather could be a good thing, then that’s cool, go with that. Maybe go skydiving?

There is no pressure to become who “you” are at a specific point in your life, you are who “you” are, you do not become “you” one day in the future, you are always you, with everything you do. Do not sacrifice the person you are today for the person you could be tomorrow.

There’s only ever now.

You should still save money because otherwise you’ll be poor one day and that very rarely makes anyone happy. Unless the person in question, being you in this case, was someone with too much money, who neglected the people around them who loved them, and then only found out what love is after they’d lost everything.

Which is the plot for a whole bunch of movies.

And maybe movies and stories are nearly always clichés but we still relate to them because we like to believe our life is a story. Because all stories, at least most of them, have a happy ending. But we need to be happy, now, before we end.

I worry that most of us feel like we’re always in the middle of the story and that it’s too easy to think, while you’re there, that there’s no other way to feel. How can you ever really feel, “I’ve done it!” and think that it’s the end. Because after you write, “They lived happily ever after,” the typewriter has to carry on, the words have to keep going. You have to do the work of living. “Then they went for ice-cream. Then they had a fight about what to watch on TV. Then they had makeup sex. Then they didn’t talk over breakfast. Then they fell in love again. Then they hated each other. Then one of them went for a drive and nearly died in a car crash and they loved each other again. Then one of them slipped in the kitchen, at the Welcome-Home-From-The-Hospital party, on a small puddle of water near the refrigerator, and hit their head on the corner of the counter, and they died. Then the other person was left alone with nothing but empty words of comfort from family and friends and their grief. In truth, they only lived happily ever after, for several years, until one of them died.”

Time doesn’t pause in some eternal moment of bliss, sheared sideways like that candy that has writing all the way through, as much as we’d like it to. As much as we’d wish it to. There’s a moment after the end, and then another, and then another, and then another and you have to actually live through those moments. And sometimes, for some of us maybe, sometimes that means you have to be strong. Because the individual moments of nearly anything can be difficult.

I’m getting distracted, sorry. I honestly thought writing this book would make me happy. I thought helping you, whoever you are, would help me. Maybe it isn’t. Let me carry on and we’ll talk about how it’s going later.

Don’t buy an expensive car. You will always worry about scratching it, and you will scratch it, because scratching and damaging something you love is just human.

I don’t mean to dump all of this on you like a set of rules for life. Life isn’t a board game. Life is a series of events that you have the chance to influence, that you are present and aware of.

You’re still alive when you’re asleep, even if you aren’t really present and aware, but I’ve never been able to be around myself while that’s happening to really check. You’re alive in your dreams. Someone has to be experiencing all that stuff, right? Depending on which dream we’re talking about. Everyone has that one where you’re not wearing any pants at school and everyone’s laughing at you and you don’t know why until you look down and, BAM! You’re naked. And the other one where you’re trying to fight back against something but your punches are so slow that it doesn’t really feel like you’re doing anything, like your punches aren’t having any real effect. Or when you try to scream, and nothing comes out.

I guess that’s a feeling of hopelessness or helplessness. I actually just meant to write ‘helplessness’ there but I’m not going to delete the word, ‘hopelessness’.

Sorry. I’m trying not to delete things. Maybe deleting the things you don’t need makes you happy. But sometimes deleting things is the easy way out.

My intention isn’t to bring you down.

If you’re reading this then maybe you’re already down and now all I’m doing is bringing you even lower because I’ve started writing a whole bunch of these things but if I look at them, they all seem very obvious. Like you could find some of them in one of those magazines that tells you to be happy with who you are but also, here’s how you really should be having sex and here’s some diet tips. Because you’re fat.

Now I’m kind of sorry I started down this road at all because no doubt, by now you’re probably thinking that actually, this isn’t a very happy book at all and it’s kind of terrifying to be me right now because what if you feel cheated and you hate me. I’m really, really sorry if that’s happened.

By Iain S. Thomas

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