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Book Review: Simple Secrets to a Happy Life by Luci Swindoll

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The title of Luci Swindoll’s latest book, Simple Secrets to a Happy Life, does a good job of describing this inspiring and practical volume. In it the almost-octogenarian author shares fifty of those secrets under the broad headings of The Basics, Developing Your Style, Achieving Balance, Living a Good Life, and Staying Connected.

In addition to topics one would expect to see in this type of book (like “Let people know you care,” “Write down the important things,” and “Look for ways to help”) are surprises like, “Know for sure you’re insured,” “Cook something special for yourself,” and “Draw a picture to understand” (where she suggests sketching and drawing as activities to help us understand what we see in the world around us).

Swindoll’s writing style is warm, friendly, and encouraging. The stories she tells on herself make the book relatable to life, interesting, and authoritative. Sometimes they add humor. But more often than not they have an “ouch” quality that makes it easy to see why they have stuck with her and underline the important life-lesson they illustrate. For example, there was the time she got an invitation for breakfast from a co-worker, said she’d attend, but come Saturday morning simply stayed away. Later she discovered that her friend had anticipated her visit all week, prepared for it at length, and was deeply hurt by her no-show — told in Chapter Two: “Be On Time for Everything.”)

Themes that flow through her “Secrets” are contentment, gratitude, generosity, faith (this book is written from a Christian worldview), openness to adventure, common sense, self-awareness, independence, hospitality, and graciousness. It is inspirational cover-to-cover with an uplifting and positive take-away for whatever life-stage you’re in.

Simple Secrets to a Happy Life would be good to read any time, but would be an especially great choice for when one is at one of life’s crossroads like graduation, starting a new career, marriage, retirement, or simply as preparation for making the next set of New Year’s Resolutions. Rereading it annually probably wouldn’t be a bad idea either! Now, where did I put my sketch book and pencils?

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