Handbook to a Happier Life is Personal Development 101. For those who haven't already steeped themselves in self-help books and courses, Donovan offers an easy entry to the idea that you can indeed create your own happiness by following some simple steps; 62 steps, to be exact. "Developing a Positive Attitude," "Willingness," and "Energy Pickup" are among the bite-sized personal growth nuggets Donovan offers to change our lives for the better.

Each of the 62 nuggets is a two-to-three-page chapter of personal stories (his and others) along with his thoughts about the topic. By answering the questions he poses, the reader can take each concept to a deeper level. The wisdom he shares is timeless, the questions often provocative. For example, he writes, "I've been amazed at how often I have seen the effectiveness of [having consistency of purpose]. Why, for instance, do people age differently? What keeps some people going strong, while others seem to have given up on life...? I am convinced the difference lies in having a purpose. We need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We need something outside ourselves to keep us going."

His observations of how simple changes have affected his life become gifts to us: "A couple of years ago, I read an article about how we can use our vocabulary either to enhance or to weaken the effect of any experience...If you want to try out this technique...the next time someone asks, 'How was your day?' instead of your usual 'Okay,' try saying 'Fantastic,' and notice how much better it feels." Simple, and potentially life-changing.

It is obvious that Donovan has spent many hours behind earphones, listening to masters of motivation and success. Throughout the Handbook, he quotes these masters and shares what he's learned. In Chapter 44, "Going with the Flow," he writes, "I read an analogy in one of Stuart Wilde's books that I loved: When the lion in the jungle wakes up in the morning, he doesn't begin his day by worrying where his lunch is coming from. He just goes about his business and trusts that everything else will work out. In most cases, for the lion and for us, it does."

Although any of the 62 nuggets has the potential to be life-changing, reading them all in one serving could be overwhelming. My suggestion for getting the most out of this book is to take just a few minutes each morning to read a chapter, then apply what you've read throughout the normal course of that day. In a mere two months, there's a good chance your life will live up to the promise of the book's title!

Paperback,174 pages, $12.95,

New World Library