How to Be a Happy WomanJan 25, 2012 ● By Megy Karydes
It's hard to read Sara Avant Stover’s new book, The Way of the Happy Woman: Living the Best Year of Your Life, without wanting to curl up with a hot cup of green tea and a blanket and devour it in one sitting. The title puts you in a frame of mind that you’re ready to take a deep breath, be still and be willing to accept the fact that you can be happy and live your best life.
The Way of the Happy Woman speaks to many of us Type A personalities, in that it appears to promise the ability to slow us down. While many of us crave the non-stop action of our lives, or think we crave it, we secretly wish that we didn’t feel guilty when we just need to take an occasional break. In reality, we know our frenzied schedules leave us exhausted and out of sync with our bodies, the Earth and a sense of who we are.
Stover understands. She’s been there and done that. Propelled into a calmer life after physical ailments caused her introspection, she spent six months writing this book that is the culmination of a decade of her own life experience and work. It encourages women to accept and love all parts of themselves through life-altering choices designed to help us create a more authentic being.
“The book is meant to help women tap into their inner wisdom and harmonize with their surroundings to help them find happiness during every season of every year of one’s life,” Stover says. She asserts that The Way of the Happy Woman is a life handbook. While readers can certainly read it from cover-to-cover, the book’s seasonal organization allows readers to access specific sections when they have a need for guidance. Stover feels strongly that each season should be appreciated for what it brings to our lives, and that our bodies work alongside those seasons: spring for beginnings, summer for rejoicing, autumn for harvesting and winter for listening.
Stover integrates complementary modalities and activities to follow through each of the seasons of the year, which are designed to help us live in harmony with our surroundings and ourselves as women in the modern world. The path of the happy woman is not easy and requires discipline, and Stover knows this. Following her journal writing, exercise, dietary and charting suggestions requires devising a plan of action, committing to it and investing a lot of hard, devoted work.
“Women at all stages will find the book accessible,” Stover explains. “For some who are farther along in the process, the book offers reminders or sharpens things they may have let slide. For others, it will be a completely new way of looking at their lives. It’s not an all-or-nothing approach, though. Women can do one or two things and add things as they like. They will see results at all different levels.”
Stover admits that the title of the book may turn some people off because they view happiness as a mood. She encourages women to look beyond that approach and think of being happy more holistically, saying, “Look inward for guidance. Happiness is who you are; it’s your true nature. It’s not in a relationship, job or bank account. It’s inside you. When you learn to abide in the timeless, open, spacious part of yourself, then you can better weather the cycles and seasons of your moods and life at large.”
Stover reminds us that while we’re traditional nurturers, it is important that we take care of ourselves, as well. Whether it is by incorporating meditation, yoga or prayer into our routine or by changing our diet, we must take steps to nurture the body, invigorate the mind and lift the spirit.
Megy Karydes loves all of the seasons in Chicago, but feels happiest when spring arrives and she sees the first crocus sprouting through the snow. Connect with her at KarydesConsulting.com.