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Book review - Health & Living - The road to happiness

Enda Murphy is a well-known cognitive behavioural therapist. Trained in nursing and cognitive behavioural therapy, he is project director of the CBT training programme with the ICGP.

In his new book, he provides an easyto- read guide to avoiding the negative thinking and behaviour that lead to mental health issues like panic attacks, anxiety and depression. The book outlines the five habits that lead to these problems, including: the panic attack cycle; trying to be in control; the social anxiety trap; the depression pathway; and the tendency to ‘abnormalise the normal’. The text is free of ‘psychobabble’, and presents clear paths to try to help people lead a happier life.

The type of mental health issues delineated by Murphy, and manifesting themselves in the five unwelcome habits referred to above, is that people tend to be too hard on themselves. For example, trying to be in control all the time can lead to great unhappiness. The key to alleviating this is to learn how to cope with the uncertainties of life without getting anxious when they occur.

Also, people who are unhappy tend to spend a lot of their time rating themselves and feeling they fall short of unachievable standards. They tend to spend too much time believing their happiness depends on how others view them.

The author provides case histories to explain how to cope with the negative thinking and move towards a situation where we better understand our emotional mind. We are told the story of a young mother, Louise, sitting in a coffee shop, who feels she is a failure as a mother. She notices another woman feeding her baby and notices how in control she seems to be. She subsequently has coffee with the woman, who confesses to the same insecurities and anxieties as Louise has.

The bottom line is that ‘feeling crap’ from time to time is normal, and you don’t need to get everything 100% right all the time. Realising this, the young mother “noticed a new freedom and a new happiness come over her”, the book states.

Enda Murphy’s book will provide a valuable reference for those seeking a happier life and for the healthcare practitioners who often have to manage the problems their patients’ unhappiness can bring, as well as their own daily stresses and anxieties.

– Niall Hunter

Book review - Health & Living - The road to happiness
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