Resisting Happiness Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Resisting Happiness shows you how to get more joy in your life by exploring the roadblocks you unknowingly put in the way of it, explaining why it’s a choice, and giving specific tips to help you make the decision to be content.

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Resisting Happiness Summary

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You want to be happy. But every time you try to catch joy, it seems to slip through your fingers, replaced by worry and stress. You can’t put a price on fulfillment because it’s so valuable, but it also comes at the cost of hard work.

But where should you start putting in effort? Ironically, you might want to identify what’s making you sad. That’s where Matthew Kelly’s book Resisting Happiness begins. You’ll see what holds you back from true fulfillment and learn to eliminate it.

3 of the best principles I got from this book are:

  1. Remember to read and that money isn’t everything if you want more meaning in life.
  2. Learn the joy of being alone.
  3. Practice delaying gratification and make sure you keep good friends close to reach your full potential.

Let’s get right into it and discover what Kelly has to teach us about happiness!

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Lesson 1: For a more meaningful life, remember to read and that money isn’t everything.

In college, reading wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. It was difficult to manage a schedule full of classes and a social life and still find time to get into a good book.

But what I didn’t realize was that my lack of reading was one of the things holding me back from happiness.

Today I see that reading is an important window into the world around me. And as I pick the right authors, it’s like having their guidance right next to me when I’m trying to figure something important out.

Think of books like friends that you can turn to for an escape when life gets difficult. They have the power to change your perspective and improve your attitude.

Another important factor that could be holding you back from joy is placing too much emphasis on money. You do need it, but looking for opportunities to help others without the expectation of a reward is a sure path to fulfillment.

Picture this. The author goes to his neighbor Joe and offers to pay him $1,000 an hour to plan trees at the elementary school down the street. Joe puts in a couple of hours of half-hearted work and leaves richer but feeling empty. 

Contrast this with the feeling Joe would have if the author asked him to volunteer his time. He might work hard all day to do what the school needs rather than just get paid and ends up happier and more fulfilled as a result.

Lesson 2: Nurture the relationship you have with yourself through solitude.

One time in college I was having difficulties with relationships and tried what I thought was a strange idea at the time. I took a day off work and made a plan to hang out with myself for the entire day. I even left my cell phone at home!

It turned out to be one of the most memorable and enjoyable days of my life. I spent time eating food I love, took a drive into the mountains for a picnic, and watched one of my favorite movies. 

Unknowingly, I’d unblocked one of the most common roadblocks in the way of happiness-discovering the joy of being by myself.

Loneliness can be a scary prospect, especially if you’re used to always being with other people. You might even go to great lengths, making stupid decisions and getting into bad relationships, just to avoid it.

But consider that by spending more time alone, you’re nurturing a relationship with the one person you’ll never be without-yourself! It might sound counterintuitive, but more time alone will help you beat loneliness.

You also get a chance to dive into who you really are every time you plan to spend time by yourself. In fact, this is the only time you have to get to know your personality, so use it wisely and get plenty of it!

Lesson 3: If you want to reach your full potential, you’ll need to have good friends and to practice delaying gratification.

Being alone is important but it’s not everything. You’ve got to have friends, but the right kind if you want to truly be happy. 

In tenth grade, I was terrified of social situations. I wouldn’t even ask a girl on a date I was so scared. But at the beginning of the next year, I met a group of friends that improved all of that. 

I began spending a lot of time with one in particular who completely changed my life. The first weekend after we’d met he pushed me to ask a girl to the Homecoming dance. 

I didn’t want to, but I knew that it was good for me so I did it anyway. Not only did I have a great time, but I also got out of my comfort zone and grew as a person.

In the months afterward, I transformed from an awkward and shy kid to a far more confident young man. If it weren’t for the help of friends that cared about my progress, I wouldn’t be who I am today!

Don’t keep holding yourself back from reaching your full potential by hanging around with mediocre people. Find a new friend group, and specifically look for high-quality people that you know will push you to be your best self. 

It will change your life, and in the process, you’ll find a lot more fulfillment along the way!

Resisting Happiness Review

Resisting Happiness is a great book and one that I would highly recommend to anyone. I really like the idea that the path to joy comes from removing the roadblocks we put in the way of it. The tips this book gives are already giving me a lot of great ideas about what makes my life more fulfilling and how to double down on those practices!

Who would I recommend the Resisting Happiness summary to?

The 27-year-old mom who can’t handle being alone, the 59-year-old spiritual person that wants to discover even more meaning in life, and anyone that wants to improve their happiness but doesn’t realize what’s holding them back from doing so.

Last Updated on July 23, 2023

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.