From The Beacon: Find key to happiness between pages

Everyone wants happiness. Many people believe it to be the universal goal of all mankind. And, where there is a goal, there is a public library willing to help one achieve it.

This August marks the 11th year the Secret Society of Happy People have sponsored Happiness Happens Month, according to Chase's 2010 Calendar of Events. And, in addition to the thousands of leisure reads the Beaufort County library offers to help you find intellectual stimulation and bring joy in your life, it offers plenty of resources on how to find and maintain happiness.

If you want to try your hand at a more-than-skin-deep life makeover, try"The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent A Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle and Generally Have More Fun," by Gretchen Rubin. Join the author in her yearlong quest to find and achieve more happiness in her life. Do not expect a dry self-help book. Rubin's narrative memoir reads like a story, and keeps the reader's attention, undoubtedly a factor that helped make the work a New York Times best-seller. Readers should be aware that Rubin's happiness project is told from the perspective of a wife and mother: the book dedicates months of work to marriage and parenthood.

For those readers who prefer the Web over printed books, Rubin maintains www.happiness-project.com. Here, she posts some of her most important happiness tips, including her "secrets of adulthood." There also are Q&As she has conducted with others on the topic. There's also a "happiness project toolbox" to help those who choose to embark on their own project stay on track.

For an all-around happiness guide, try Oprah magazine's "O's Big Book of Happiness." The book, available through the South Carolina Lends catalog, is full of articles, advice and interviews on just about any aspect of life. Whether you're looking to stay fit, improve your love life or better your professional standing, this compilation offers something. It also offers sections on how to "age brilliantly" and on how to improve confidence.

If a basic history on the concept of happiness is what you're after, try Darrin M. McMahon's "Happiness: A History." McMahon, who has taught at Yale, Columbia and New York University, outlines how the idea of happiness being a natural right came to fruition.

McMahon's work explains that while the concept of happiness has existed for centuries, it is only in the past few hundred years that human beings felt entitled to achieving it. His work takes you into ancient Rome and Greece. He explores how humans have looked to religion for happiness, and even asks if animals could be happier than we are. In his quest to present the reader with a complete understanding, McMahon interviewed all kinds of individuals, from artists to diplomats to exotic dancers.

Given all the resources available, it can safely be said that happiness, indeed, can be found at your local library. Stop by any time and check some out for yourself.