Choose To Be Happy:
"Rise Above" Anxiety, Anger, and Depression
(with Research Results)*
Brief Book Summary
Tom G. Stevens PhD
=> For more information about the book, or
to read it, go to: :
=> For a summary of the key points/guidelines in the book for leading
a happy, productive life, go to:
My book, You Can Choose To Be Happy: "Rise Above" Anxiety, Anger, and
Depression, is the result of a personal quest that began when I was 16.
I decided to try making happiness for self and others my top goal in life. Dr.
Abraham Maslow's description of self-actualization later served as a role model.
My book summarizes the knowledge I gained during the past 40 years--first as a
United Methodist minister and then as a psychologist in Counseling and
The biggest single factor controlling people's happiness and
self-actualization is their choice of what the great philosopher Paul Tillich
called our ultimate concern. Many people think that making human happiness a top
goal is selfish or naive. But great philosophers such as the Buddha, Aristotle,
Kant, and Bertrand Russell all said happiness should be number one for many
reasons. Jesus also implied that happiness for self and others was of highest
A powerful benefit of making your ultimate concern mental values like
happiness, love, truth, beauty, and growth is that they automatically bring
peace of mind. The choice of internal, mental values over external values is
vital for overcoming anxiety because you can directly control only
mental/spiritual values. As the Buddha recognized, becoming too attached to
something you can't directly control-such as success, money, other people's
opinions, or any external condition-is a major cause of anxiety. For example,
the instant you make success a top goal, you will feel bolts of anxiety whenever
anything threatens your success.
What causes our emotions? Our emotions measure the condition of higher brain
states. Overarousal emotions like anxiety come from being overwhelmed with more
input than we can cope with. Underarousal emotions like depression come from too
little input-often because we have withdrawn to avoid anxiety and/or lack
meaning in the situation. Happiness comes from input being optimally challenging
and validating in such a way that maximum learning and inner harmony occur in
the higher brain centers.
Victor Frankl found happiness even in Nazi concentration camps. He did it by
getting mental control of the situation. Later he used this knowledge to form a
new school of psychotherapy. You too can learn to overcome your past
history, your biology, or any situation to find peace and happiness. My book
presents six basic strategies for getting mental control of our emotions. You
can learn to "get into the zone" of harmonious functioning for peak learning,
performance, and happiness.
The center of your self-worth and unconditional love of self and others is
your Higher Self. It is a cognitive system that develops naturally in childhood.
A Higher Self raised in a negative, dysfunctional family may remain weak and
underdeveloped. To make your Higher Self the strong, democratic executive over
your other subparts, choose happiness for self and others over others' opinions,
success, rules, coercion, or any other challenger. Develop a well-thought-out
philosophy based upon your highest mental values to effectively cope with any
situation. Then your Higher Self will become your inner core, your inner hero,
and your inner conductor bringing harmony to all parts of your personality and
Another vital aspect of achieving happiness is facing and overcoming your
worst fears and your most negative subparts. Many people can use the
self-exploration method and other suggestions in the book to overcome these
sources of unhappiness, although good psychotherapy may be necessary for others.
Other important aspects of learning to be happy covered by the book include
learning how to be grateful for all that you have, learning how to overcome
being too externally controlled by others, learning to forgive, learning how to
develop a more positive-yet realistic-view of life, and improving your ability
to accomplish more and have more fun through effective management of your life.
An extensive research study based upon the first edition of the book examined
the responses of 3,443 people who took the Success and Happiness Attributes
Questionnaire (SHAQ). It found that the Happiness Quotient (HQ) derived
from factors described in the book (and briefly above) predicted overall
happiness with 75% accuracy and depression with 53% accuracy. It had
impressive relationships with other emotional and life success factors as well
(including relationship success, health, academic success, and income).
That research helps support the ideas in this book to an extent that few other
self-help books have achieved.
These ideas only scratch the surface. To see more, visit my web site at
and download the Choose To Be Happy Checklist
or a copy of the book. Or, download one of my free handouts on many self-help
topics from learning and study skills, time management, and career planning to
coping with emotions, meeting people, intimacy, and conflict-resolution.
Chapter 10 includes a summary of the book conclusions and research
results. This research was conducted using SHAQ--the Success and
Happiness Attributes Questionnaire. More than 3400 people's
results were used. The research discovered a new HQ (Happiness
Quotient) formula that was very successful predicting happiness and
other emotional and life success outcomes. The SHAQ scales had moderate
to high positive correlations with almost all outcome measures.
SHAQ‘s HQ formula had surprisingly high correlations with the
emotional outcomes; with Overall Happiness, R = .87, with Low
Depression, R = .730, R Square = .533; with Low Anxiety R = .68; with
Low Anger-Aggression, R = .70. Results for SHAQ Scales
correlations with other Outcome scales include: the Relationship
Outcomes scale, R = .693,; for the Health Outcomes scale, R = .82, for
Highest Income, R = .49, and for Educational Attainment, R = .46.
Behavioral measures used as outcomes also yielded very good results.
The results support SHAQ‘s reliability, validity, and utility.
The results also support the main ideas in the book and the proposition
that a host of key cognitions are the most important determinants of
happiness and other emotions. They also show how these positive
happiness and success-producing factors tend to correlate with each
other and may support the development of each other. The implication is
that when people begin a self-development program, they can use SHAQ to
get a profile of the factors they need to improve in order to increase
their happiness (and decrease depression, anxiety, and anger) and
increase life success. The results also suggest that starting almost
anywhere can begin a positive change process that will improve other
factors as well.
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ADDED IN 2010 REVISED EDITION: New section on Interpersonal
Skills and updated or added information/recommendations throughout the book.
Research Results from SHAQ (Success and Happiness Attributes Questionnaire)
providing strong support form ideas and recommendations in every chapter in the
book. Updated research results from other researchers added as well.
I wish you a happy life.
You Can Choose To Be Happy: "Rise Above" Anxiety,
Anger, and Depression, Tom G. Stevens PhD
Revised Version Copyright 2010, 324 pages, 6.69x9l.61 Soft Cover,
Wheeler-Sutton Publ. Co. $17.95 (often discounted to $14 or less, go to
Can Choose To Be Happy: "Rise Above" Anxiety, Anger, and Depression
or other e-store).
*Article published in In Touch.