26 September 2023

Happy (and other ridiculous aspirations)

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Turia Pitt, Penguin Books, $22.99.

As fingers ‘dance’ through the pages, it’s surprising to read these words: “This book, dear reader, is dedicated to you! Fallible, flawed and perfectly imperfect you.”

If there is any need for living proof, Turia Pitt demonstrates that with the right mindset, anything is possible. Caught in a grassfire while competing in a 100km ultramarathon in 2011, she suffered full thickness burns to 65 per cent of her body. However, surviving is the least of her achievements. She is on a quest and writes about what she believes to be true about happiness. We all want more of it, whatever the formula.

What people really want to know, according to Pitt is: “… how can you survive a grassfire, suffer burns to 65 per cent of your body, have your life and appearance fundamentally changed, and still, um, be happy? For the most part, I knew how to answer them – in the sense that I knew what happiness meant for me. But, as you’ll discover in this book, I have what we’ll call a high regard for the facts. I’m a mining engineer by trade. I value research-driven data. I like system.”

Whether you have a different belief system, a different moral compass or you might just think differently to Turia, this book is written from her perspective – and does not just rely on conventional wisdom.

Her search sets out to prove if ‘happy’ is, actually, an attainable goal, and not just a ridiculous aspiration. She likes what she uncovers, and what she’s written, which is with confidence and gladness. This book is most about what she believes to be true about happiness.

Her journey, among other things, entails practising gratitude, working on kindness, self-love, strengthening your relationships and accepting the hard times and bad days.

Turia unpacks all of the above with easy-to-implement tips and strategies, hilarious insights into her own life and relationships, and introduces us to some of the world’s most fabulous people along the way, including Leigh Sales, Scott Pape, Zoë Foster Blake, Maria Forleo and Mick Fanning.

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