Two or three years ago, although neither single nor wishing to become single, I did read an amazing book by author and therapist Dr. Jennifer Taitz called How to Be Single and Happy. The book’s title may sound like it’s only for single people. The subtitle, “Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate,” surely sounds as if the book is only for single people looking to become partnered. Yet neither of those is true (and Taitz herself says so within the text of the book). An alternative subtitle might have been something like “Solid life strategies for both partnered and single people.”
Actually, the book is a great guide to real happiness if you fall into any of the following categories:
1. You’re single and want to be partnered.
2. You’re partnered and want to be single.
3. You’re single and want to stay single.
4. You’re partnered and want to stay partnered.
5. You want to remain or become happy.
I’d wager just about everyone falls into two of those categories. Number 5, of course, should be pretty much everyone. Now let’s take 4 through 1.
4. You’re partnered and want to stay that way. One of the profoundest understandings I took from this book is that in order to have a sustainably successful marriage or long-term partnership, your happiness needs not to depend too heavily on that relationship. If that sounds counter-intuitive, think it over a few times. If it still doesn’t make sense, definitely read the book.
3. You’re single and want to stay single. One thing here is that this book will reassure you (with scientific evidence, not mere words) that you aren’t missing out on happiness by choosing to remain single. Another thing, or really lots of further things, are how to actually build and live a happy life regardless of whether you’re single or partnered.
2. You’re partnered and want to be single. Here, the book should alleviate your fear that becoming single again might leave you unhappy. Secondly and again, it shows how, in very practical ways, to create and lead a happy life whether you’re single or partnered. And if you want eventually to become partnered again, it will help with that too, and help you get it right the second time.
1. You’re single and want to be partnered. Well, as the subtitle says, it really should help you stay sane while you look for or wait for the right relationship. It should help you avoid getting into relationships that won’t succeed, while helping you actually get into one that will succeed. You definitely want to be independently happy without a committed partnership if you want to end up in a good, successful, happy, and lasting partnership.
Plus, again, number five: This is a very concrete, accessible, evidence-based guide to happiness in general, for anyone. It’s really ultimately a book about happiness. And who doesn’t want that?
Taitz’s book is divided into two parts, and it’s a very reasonable division. The first part covers, basically, some really key things not to do and not to think, or to stop doing and stop thinking. The second part, which is longer, is about what you actually should do and think. And of course, exercises, strategies, and thought tools to help with all this.
Taitz, by the way, besides being an author, is a therapist who has worked with a lot of clients concerning the matters this book deals with. Besides sharing the science and the practical tools, she shares stories of clients’ struggles and successes as well as many of her own life experiences. The balance of these four things (science, tools, clients’ stories, her own stories) is well executed and makes for a very readable read.
So what, specifically, is in the book? I’ll share one thing here. This particular item is more “educative” rather than being a “tool,” and it’s pretty much the first thing Taitz addresses. There’s probably a widespread perception, and a widespread feeling, that happiness is tied to marriage (or perhaps something similar to marriage). An awful lot of us somehow acquire the belief that being married or single will make the difference between being happy and being unhappy in life. Yet reality begs to differ: statistically, it turns out, there is only a very small difference in happiness between married and single people. Although the difference favors marriage slightly, it hardly makes the difference between happiness and unhappiness. Instead, it makes hardly a difference, and plenty of other factors appear more important. It’s a fascinating (and useful) read.
Again, the book is How to Be Single and Happy by Jennifer Taitz.
Has anyone else out there read this or applied its tools?
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