Spreading happiness throughout the world TM

"Happiness is much more than simply feeling good; happiness is a way...The Way.  The Dalai Lama said: 'I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.'  Happy 4 Life will move you beyond seeking to finding happiness." —Bob Nozik




About Bob Nozik, M.D.


Dr. Bob Nozik is a physician who, after nearly 40 years of teaching, research, and practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, retired to devote all of his considerable energy to do research on and teach others about happiness.
In his medical career Bob presented more than 100 lectures and published nearly 100 journal articles as well as three medical textbooks. He was featured in "Best Doctors in America" every year until he retired.
Bob has been studying and teaching happiness ever since developing his own deep inner happiness 20 years ago. His landmark book: Happy 4 Life: Here's How to Do It was published in 2004




Happy 4 Life – Testimonials



"I can't imagine anyone reading this book and not becoming happier. It's wise, practical and fun.  I love it and you will too.

—Richard Carlson, author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff



"This book is a joy to read and is packed with wonderful information that can help everyone become happier."

—Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD, founder of the Center for Attitudinal Healing and co-author (with Diane V. Cirincione) of Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.



"Written with wisdom, warmth and humor, this book guides the reader, step-by-step back to the only place where true, lasting happiness can be found."

—Jim Deaver, author of The Way of Harmony



"Bob Nozik has gathered into one place the wisdom of the ages about deep, inner contentment and presented it in a highly accessible format.  His years of study and his personal story combine to make a dramatic impact.  This book is a heartening and compelling read."

—Susan Page, author of If We're So In Love, Why Aren't We Happy?"



"Bob Nozik has written a lovely, personal book that hits the happiness nail on the head.  His exercises are transformative and fun, his stories are a great read, and he has managed to dovetail his own story about happiness with some of the greatest literature and philosophy on the subject.  I've read books about happiness and I've written about happiness.  This piece is a wonderful addition to the field."

—Rick Foster, co-author (with Greg Hicks) of How We Choose to Be Happy.



Dr. Bob Nozik gives the reader a practical and easy to follow road map to happiness.  Each chapter is filled with important techniques for self-realization conveyed in interesting anecdotes and personal experiences.  If only we could all follow just a small fraction of his advice—the world would be a much happier place."

Emmett Cunningham, MD, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology, New York School of Medicine and V.P. of Clinical and Research at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 





Happy 4 Life - Reviews


"Bob Nozik is the King of Happy.  He's taken this vital, universal, sought-after basic need or emotion and turned it every which way to examine it, to understand what it is, what it isn't, why some people are happy, most or many are not.  This is Happiness dissected. And this is a book with a lot of good stuff therein.”


“Wise, positive, realistic, the author writes with great energy and obvious interest in his subject—Mr. Glass Half-Full (actually Entirely Full) knows whereof he speaks.... Fortunately Dr. Nozik tackles this subject realistically, and is not into bandaid-ing....The writing is lively, diverse, with good visual examples, and quotes from all sources.”


—Writer's Digest Review




"...The reader is presented with exercises to complete as you read to help you along on your path to happiness.  Most of these keys to happiness are very sensible but not all that easy to accomplish...There are twelve steps to happiness, most of which are admirable.  To love one's self, to be grateful for the things in your life, to accept things that you cannot change, to have self esteem, to be non-judgmental, and to live in the moment are some of the recommendations.”


—Kathleen Josephson, independent reviewer, Langley, BC, Canada





Happy 4 Life - Excerpts



The following material (Introduction & Chapter 10 from Happy 4 Life) is

Copyright 2004 by Bob Nozik. It is reproduced here with kind permission.








“Hi, Bob, how are you?”

            Sounds pretty innocent doesn’t it?  But this simple greeting changed my life and might change yours as well.

            The year is 1987; the place is the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco where I worked as Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology. Passing a colleague on the way to the Eye Clinic one morning, I answered his mundane greeting with a cheery, “Great!” Immediately, his melancholy face twisted into a sneer as he grumbled, “Oh, you’re always great!”  And, with a dismissive wave of his hand, he fled down the hall.

            “Hm,” I surmised, “8:00 A.M. and he’s already having a bad day.”

            But this same scene was repeated twice more, almost word for word, sneer for sneer, dismissive hand-wave for dismissive hand-wave.  By paring my cheery “Great” to “Okay,” I managed to get through the rest of the day without further incident.

            At home that evening, I reviewed those encounters with my three grumpy colleagues. They had all found my lively “Great!”, annoying.  Apparently, being too happy, especially at work and early in the morning, puts people off!

            Me, too happy?  That’s a good one!  In the past, no one would have graded my happiness higher than a C-.  Still, I was becoming happier.  In fact, looking back, I realized that my happiness had been moving steadily upward over the past three years.  And this new happiness was qualitatively different as well.  It didn’t come and go like the happiness I was used to; it was deeper, more solid and reliable than before. 

            “How strange,” I thought, “that it took those three guys at the hospital to make me see how happy I’ve become.”

            What’s more, subconsciously I knew that displaying too much joy around others is risky.  Clearly, I had crossed the line and been too cheerful that morning at the hospital. 

            How could I have been blind to the major upturn in my own happiness for so long? Could it have developed so slowly that I hadn’t noticed?  Maybe I thought I was just having a run of good luck. Still, the events taking place during this time of my life had not been unusually good. 


Fifteen Minutes of Fame

            Mentally, I began to evaluate the happiness of my close friends, family, and coworkers, and quickly concluded that I was now happier than every one of them. “I can’t be the only person this happy,” I considered, “there must be others.  Wouldn’t it be great if I could find other people who, instead of being put off by happiness, would celebrate it?”

            But how could I find them?  Finally, I decided to place an ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a free, weekly paper that features a large personals section. Here’s the ad I placed:



Do you find yourself keeping quiet about expressing how wonderful the world is to your friends because they are repulsed by your joy and happiness? We happy people are a group society finds difficult to accept. We need to form a support group for joyful, happy people. Contact Bob Nozik at: (phone #)


            When the ad appeared I received a few calls including one from a woman who asked several pointed questions.  “Are you promoting some new religion with this ad, one that promises new converts joy and happiness?” 

            “No,” I replied, “I’m Jewish, but secular, I’ve never been very religious.  Besides,” I pointed out “Judaism isn’t exactly a new religion.”

            Satisfied with that answer, she continued: “Are you trying to attract women to date with this ad?  Is that what you’re really after?” 

            Although twice married and divorced, I was then already in relationship with the wonderful woman who has been my life partner for more than 20 years.  I assured the caller that my ad wasn’t a romantic come-on.

            She then went on to explain that she was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, the main morning daily newspaper in the City.  She liked to scan Guardian ads for material she could turn into human interest stories for the Chronicle.  She found my ad to be interesting, and we set a time for an interview.

            Three days later she, along with a photographer, arrived at my front door.  She spent about an hour asked me all about my happiness and left after taking several photos.

            One week later, I was reading the Chronicle and having breakfast at my favorite coffee house.  When I got to the “People” section, I was both amazed and amused to find a huge picture of myself sitting in my house looking happy, and a long article about this strangely happy fellow, me.

            Now, the phone began to ring, and ring, and ring.  My poor, little discount-store answering machine pleaded for early retirement.

            One of the calls was from the Associated Press. They insisted on doing another interview and more photos.  That story circled the globe.  In the ensuing blaze of publicity I got my Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame.”  The pursuit of happiness, it seems, is universal, but actually being happy is newsworthy! 


Happy People, Inc. (HaPI)

            I was stunned!  If it’s true that deep, abiding happiness is rare, how did I, of all people, get it?  After all, I’d been unhappy most of my life. 

            But things were moving too fast to try and answer that one.  Riding the wave of publicity, I launched HaPI, Happy People, Inc., a nonprofit organization for happy people.  HaPI grew to over one hundred local San Francisco Bay Area members, plus a similar number of national and international associate members.  We had a newsletter and threw parties.  We also held biweekly seminars where the members discussed how they developed and nurtured their happiness. 

            As I learned more and more about the members of HaPI, I was surprised to discover that almost 60 per cent were not especially happy.  They had joined hoping to learn the secrets for becoming happy.

            HaPI lasted just one year.  The demands of a busy medical practice plus my research and teaching commitments were too great for me to give HaPI the attention it needed.  Nevertheless, I had found my calling.  I now knew that once my medical work was over, I would dedicate myself to studying happiness and teaching others how to find it. 

            Slowly, as I began winding down my medical career, I put more and more time and energy into learning everything I could about happiness.   

            This book is the product of everything I’ve absorbed about happiness from self-inquiry, didactic study, as well as what I learned from those members of HaPI who were truly happy.  

            There are many fine books available which offer a scientific perspective about happiness; however most fail to show their readers how to actually get it.  Here you will learn how to be happy.

            I have but one caution: persons suffering from clinical depression or other serious psychological or psychiatric problems may not benefit from what is recommended here.  This book is not an alternative to medication or therapy for mental disorders.




Chapter 10: Don’t Worry, Be Happy


Happiness Key # 8: Pollyanna’s Game


        “...the game was to just find some-thing about everything to be glad about— no matter what ‘twas.”

                                    – Pollyanna


“You’re Such a Pollyanna!”

            If someone were to say that to us, it would certainly not be meant as a compliment.  Pollyanna, the title character in a 1913 novel by Eleanor Hodgman Porter, is the origin of that common pejorative. 

            Porter’s book was an instant success and was soon followed by other “Pollyanna” books as well as a movie in 1920 starring Mary Pickford in the title role. 

            However, as the years rolled by, the name, “Pollyanna,” came to be used for anyone who was inappropriately happy, happy in the face of misery and misfortune.  But Pollyanna got a bad rap.             

            Because Pollyanna’s Game is such a delightful, not to mention, important happiness principle, it’s worth knowing something about its origin.

The Original Pollyanna

            As the book opens, Pollyanna’s father, pastor of a small mission church out west, has just died.  Her mother passed away some years earlier, so the newly orphaned eleven-year-old girl is about to go and live with her well-off but cantankerous aunt in Beldingsville, Vermont.

            Three years prior to his death, her father taught Pollyanna the Game that was to bring her, and everyone she touched, joy and happiness.  That Game is the inspiration for this chapter.


The “Just Being Glad” Game

            A hundred years ago clergymen had no incomes other than what was donated to them by their congregations.  Because their parish was a poor one, Pollyanna and her father were forced to live in near poverty.   

            One day, their Lady’s Aid Society sent them a barrel of hand-me-downs.  Pollyanna had hoped she might find a doll in this barrel, but sadly, there was no doll.   In fact, it held nothing for a child her age but an small pair of crutches.  Not surprisingly, she was bitterly disappointed. 

            Her father, observing her sad tears, decided there and then to teach her the “just being glad” Game.  He asked her to try to find something she could be glad about for getting those crutches instead of the doll she wanted. 

            She tried, she really did, but was unable to think of anything good about getting an old pair of crutches.  Finally, he told her: “Why, just be glad because you don’t -- need -- ‘em.

            That was all she needed for her to embrace the Game; it soon became the core of her life.  She especially enjoyed playing the Game when confronted by something really difficult:  “And the harder ‘tis, the more fun ‘tis to get ‘em out.”  And, being dirt-poor, she had plenty of opportunities to hone her skill with the Just Be Glad Game. 

            But she did discovered that the Game had its limits.  “Only -- only -- sometimes it’s almost too hard -- like when your father goes to heaven, and there isn’t anybody but a Ladies’ Aid left.”


“Hey!  Not So Fast!”

            “Wait a minute.” a red-faced Glumbunny interjects, “Let’s see if I’ve got this right.  I’m supposed to be happy about whatever happens to me, no matter what, except maybe if someone I love dies?”

            “I might not have put it quite that way, Glumbunny, but, yes, that’s right.”

            “Wha..!  Bu..ffaa..!  Thaa..that’s the most asinine thing I’ve heard you say yet!  If you think . . . !!”

            “Hold on, Glumbunny, don’t blow a gasket.  I know Pollyanna’s Game goes against everything you believe.  But if you’ll just keep an open mind I’m sure you’ll see how it can elevate your happiness.” 

            “Well, okay, I’ll go along, for now, but what I really want to tell you is: ‘Don’t be such a Pollyanna!’”

            “Okay, Glumbunny, touche’.”



Few Things Are All Good or All Bad


       “If your house is on fire, warm yourself by it.”

-Spanish Proverb


            The last chapter showed us that judgment separates things into their polar opposites.  However, this separation doesn’t represent reality because few things in life are either black or white.  Instead, most things are a mix, shades of grey. 

            Pollyanna’s Game recognizes that there is always hidden good in what we consider to be bad.  And we can find that good if we just look for it.  This understanding, which is the basis of Pollyanna’s Game, binds it to reality. 

            When something happens we don’t like, we have three choices: we can try and change it, resign ourselves to it, or we can try and find something about it we can like, something for us “to be glad about.”


            Notice that Pollyanna’s Game doesn’t say we must like what we don’t like or pretend that black is white.  All it asks is that we expand our view of what has happened to include more of what is really there.  It is this perspective that shows us how we can find something about almost anything to like.  


“Sorry, I don’t buy it.”

“You don’t believe Pollyanna’s Game will work for you, Glumbunny?”

“It sounds good but I’ve already had half a dozen things happen this week that have nothing good about them.  No way Pollyanna’s Game will work with them.”

“Hm, Glumbunny, would you be willing to put that to the test?”

“Sure, and lots of luck, you’re going to need it.”


Glumbunny’s “Bad-Stuff” List of the Week

            Here is Glumbunny’s list:

1)      He was cut off on his way to work by a pimply-faced kid who gave him “the finger” when he honked his horn and shook his fist.


2)      His wife picked a fight with him, complaining that he was spending too much time at the office and not enough with her or their daughters.


3)      Six weeks of dieting didn’t change his high cholesterol reading.  Now, he’s going to have to take expensive medicines that have a long list of possible complications and side effects.


4)      He had a fight with the office manager because she insisted on moving him to another office and giving his to a new associate.  She justified making the change because Glumbunny’s office, being next to her’s, would make it easier for her to help the new employee. 


5)      His accountant just informed him that he has to pay $2000 over his withholding for taxes this year.


6)      He just learned that one of his daughters has bulimia which apparently started six weeks ago.  She going to need medication and extensive psychotherapy.


            “Whew!  You’ve had a tough week, Glumbunny!”

            We needn’t ignore nor change anything that happens for us to reap the benefits of Pollyanna’s Game.  All we need to do is search for the gifts that always lie hidden in whatever happens.  Generally, when something happens that we don’t like, we judge it to be bad and immediately become angry or sad.  Pollyanna’s Game asks that we withhold our negative judgment and look deeper. 


Playing Pollyanna’s Game with Glumbunny’s Bad-Stuff

1)      Being cut off on the way to work upset Glumbunny for more than a week.  What’s there to be glad about in this?  Let’s list some possibilities:

No accident or injury resulted from this incident.

The kid knows he upset Glumbunny (he gave him “the finger” when Glumbunny shook his fist) and as he reflects privately on what happened, he might concede his irresponsibility and do better next time.

Even though Glumbunny wasn’t at fault, this close call may convince him to drive more defensively, making future accidents less likely.


2)      No one enjoys fighting with their spouse.  However:

The fight raised issues they need to discuss.  Delay would just make a good outcome less likely.

She complained because she wants to spend more time with him.  This can only mean that she cares for him and enjoys being with him.  Withdrawal would mean she had given up.  The fight means she’s trying to find a solution.


3)      Needing cholesterol-lowering medications is no fun.  Still:

Detecting the problem before a heart attack is good.  There is still time to prevent serious trouble.

The medicine is expensive but Glumbunny has good insurance.  Also, medicine is far less costly and unpleasant than hospitalization for a heart attack or heart failure.

The medicine has potential side effects, but these are known and he will be closely monitored.  Should any occur, the medicine can be changed.


4)      Changing offices is a nuisance.  However:

His new office might be even nicer than the old one.

If he hates it, he might be able to change back after the new associate has learned-the-ropes; after all, Glumbunny does have seniority.

Changing offices gives him a chance to clean out the old clutter that would still be there if not for the change.

The office manager annoys Glumbunny; now he can enjoy being further away from her.


5)      Ugh!  Needing to pay an unexpected tax bill is no fun.  On the other hand:

It means he made more money than expected this year.  “Good for you, Glumbunny, your hard work paid off!”

Glumbunny does have the $2000 in the bank; how fortunate that he was wise enough to prepare for this kind of financial emergency.

This is a good alert for Glumbunny to increase his withholding so he can avoid a tax-bill surprise next year.


6)      We hate it when our loved ones have problems.  Still:

The bulimia was caught early, before it became life-threatening.

Good treatment for the physical and the mental aspects of the disease is available.                          

Glumbunny can use this disease as a catalyst to show his daughter how much he loves and supports her.  That can bring them closer together.

The bulimia is a wake-up call for Glumbunny to start paying more attention to all of his loved ones.  This disease could be the catalyst for improving all his family relationships.


            There are a lot more positives that could be found in the items on Glumbunny’s list.  That’s part of the fun of the Game.  Take a few minutes now and find two or three other things Glumbunny could be glad about in these examples.  Be realistic.  There is no need for fantasy or exaggeration when playing Pollyanna’s Game. 


Turning Pollyanna’s Game into a Habit

            “So, Glumbunny, do you understand Pollyanna’s Game better now?”

            “Yeah.  I really do.  I’m surprised.  Frankly, I expected to hear a lot of wishful thinking.  Everything on your list is practical and reasonable.  I think I can do this!”

            “Thanks for keeping an open mind, Glumbunny.  Many people pass off Pollyanna’s Game as positive-thinking psychobabble and miss out on one of the simplest but most powerful happiness tools we have.”


            The more we play Pollyanna’s Game, the more skillful we’ll be at playing it.  The goal here is to turn it into a habit.  Once it is, we’ll use it automatically when anything we don’t like happens.  

            Remember, Pollyanna’s Game doesn’t blind us to what is so; we’ll be even more connected to reality because we won’t be limited to seeing just the negative side of upsets. 


What About Pollyanna’s Game and Happy Events?

            “Hold on,” Glumbunny interjects, “I just thought of something.  How about when something good happens, something I like?  You said Pollyanna’s Game works because nothing is all bad, right?”

            “Yes, Glumbunny, so . . . ?”

            “Well, nothing is all good either, right?”


            “If Pollyanna’s Game becomes a habit,” he continues, triumphantly, “won’t I pull-down my good times by seeing the bad in them?”


            Once again, Glumbunny raises a good point.  Just as few things in life are all bad, it’s also true that few are all good.  If we were to use Pollyanna’s Game to search for something not to like about our happy events, we’d undoubtedly find them. 


            “Yes, Glumbunny, you’re right, examining favorable events for things to be sad about would certainly uncover things there you didn’t like.”

            “So wouldn’t that just balance everything out, the bad become better, but the good become worse?”

            “Sure, that’s why we use the Game only for finding things to like in unhappy circumstances.”

            “You can do that?”

            “Sure, why not?”

            “Oh . . . well . . . never mind then.”


            Playing Pollyanna’s Game with all our upsets will quickly turn it into a habit.  Then, our minds will automatically begin sifting through all our negative events for things to be glad about as they happen.  

Happiness Quick-Start

            Because Pollyanna’s Game is so quick and easy to learn, I call it my happiness quick-start.  But don’t underestimate its power because of its simplicity.  Pollyanna’s Game is a very potent, long-lasting way to increase our happiness. 

            The exercises that follow will help us use Pollyanna’s Game to elevate our inner happiness right away.

            One caution: Pollyanna’s Game is best used for the common, ordinary upsets that plague us day in and day out.  Don’t use it for major catastrophes.  Finding something to be glad about when we suffer major career or financial set-backs, severe illnesses, or when a loved one dies will feel wrong, inappropriate.  Remember, Pollyanna herself wasn’t able to use it when her father died. 

            Still, as we develop our expertise we, like Pollyanna, will enjoy using the game even for challenging upsets.




            Exercise #1: Playing Pollyanna’s Game with Past Events.

            Look back over the last week or two and make a list of all those things you didn’t like, things that upset you.  Keep going back until you have at least ten items on your list.  Skip four or five lines between each item.

            Now, let’s play Pollyanna’s Game.  You should have no trouble finding three or four things to be glad about for each one.  Reference  “Glumbunny’s ‘Bad-Stuff List of the Week” if you need help on how to do this.  Don’t expect to come up with anything that will make you ecstatic; you are, after all, working with your bad-stuff.  Finding something modestly good is fine.  The benefits are cumulative so, as you continue playing, your happiness will compound. 

            Exercise #2: Using “The Game” For Current Upsets.

            It’s easier playing Pollyanna’s Game with things from the past because many of the bad feelings have already faded.  Although playing the Game for upsets as they happen is harder, it will increase your happiness much more. 

            When something you don’t like happens, your ego-voice immediately will say something like: “Oh, this is terrible!”  This immediately opens the door to negative judgments and closes you off to positive alternatives.  To use Pollyanna’s Game, you will need to fend off your judgments and not allow yourself to be buried under an avalanche of negativity. 

            In this exercise, as soon as something happens you don’t like, ask yourself: “What is there about what just happened that I can be glad about, that I can like?”  Don’t take time to write anything down, just prompt your mind to begin searching.  It will take only a moment or two, but the payoff for your happiness will be tremendous.

            If you use Pollyanna’s Game for all your upsets, in just three or four weeks it will become a habit.  Your friends and family will be amazed at your transformation, but best of all, your happiness will soar.




            “Glumbunny, you look upset.  Are you having problems with Pollyanna’s Game?”

            “Well, yes and no.  Ever since I went over my “Bad-Stuff” list I’ve been trying to use the Game, as you suggested, as soon as things come up.  It works well most of the time, but not all the time.” 

            “Tell me more about when it doesn’t work.”

            “I’ve discovered that when I’ve screwed something up, I just can’t play the Game.”

            “Glumbunny, you’re not alone.  Many of us have trouble accepting our own mistakes.  But read on, you’ll find lots to help you in the next chapter.”