Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


"Don't Worry, Be Happy" always struck me as faintly silly.

Not only is it terribly hard to stop worrying, it's just as hard to be happy.

This ditty was therefore asking you to work harder than you've ever done in your life.

There are probably more self-help books about making yourself happy than there will be bricks in the Great Trump Wall Of Mexico.

One, however, appears to have caught recent imaginations. It's called Walking On Sunshine: 52 Small Steps To Happiness.

Written by Rachel Kelly, a journalist who suffered from depression, it seeks to find the little things that might lead you to a (slightly) bigger and brighter place.

It's come to prominence because a copy was seen in the hands of an extremely prominent, influential (and outwardly happy) figure: Harry Styles of One Direction.

This book doesn't try to offer you a grand plan. Instead, it just suggests little things that might lead you to a little peace and then might lead you to a lasting one.

Here are five of the tips Kelly offers.

1. Habit-Tacking.

She writes: "You choose a habit that is embedded into your schedule, like enjoying coffee, and then link a new habit to it, such as cycling. Rather than having to magically transform yourself into the kind of person who always exercises enough, you become that person by building the activity into your pre-existing routine." She says that we have some sense of knowing which habits are actually beneficial to us. Putting two of them together might make the routine stick.

2. Write Down Three Good Things.

Each of us, when pushed, can surely identify three good things in our lives. Alright, at least two. Kelly gives the example of breakfast as one of hers. But she says: "Writing about it in a detailed way makes the morning and my meal even more memorable and saves me from taking such occasions for granted."

3. Remember The Freshness In The Center Of Your Chest.

Kelly says that the inner intelligence we have is -- as an ancient writer named it -- the "freshness in the center of your chest." The opposite of this is to live in the world of "results" and "achievement." It's a version of living in the moment, this. But it's more than that. It's using your inner intelligence to judge the value of the thing you're doing in the moment. Forget society's expectations. Live and be.

4. Hug People.

Yes, this idea has been co-opted by those who choose to hug trees rather than people. However, Kelly insists that reaching out to hug someone is one of the most elemental forms of human warmth. She writes: "Even a brief hug releases a whoosh of soothing oxytocin, reducing stress and stimulating the brain's reward circuit. Next time you hug someone, notice the difference when you hold them for that little bit longer, softly acknowledging their physical presence with yours." This is not to be confused with the hug that is prevalent for many people these days -- the one where people hug and pat someone on the back at the same time. Where did that come from?

5. Trust Yourself To Sleep. And Recite Poetry.

For Kelly, sleepless is less of a problem than worrying that you won't fall asleep. This is something deeply familiar to many business types who always have something to fear the next day. Even when that next day is a Sunday. Kelly writes: "I don't have to do anything except trust that when I'm tired enough, sleep will come. And that's the paradox: To achieve sleep, I have to abandon the imperative to achieve it." She still finds it hard. One of her methods is to recite a poem once she's in bed.

Everyone has their own ways to try and be happy, though too many of them end up as conscious efforts rather than natural acts.

Life is ephemeral and often fundamentally absurd. You can't let yourself be controlled by something so capricious. This book at least tries not to offer vast solutions. Instead, if you're going to think at all, think about the little things, the little truths, and the little steps you can take to walk just one step forward.

You see how moving this book is? I'm bordering on the serious. That doesn't make me happy at all.