iUniverse author Tom McKinley talks about his reasons for writing Winning the Fight to be Happy, how to become a happier person, and his publishing experience.
Please briefly describe your book . . .
Winning the Fight to be Happy is a self-help book, written to help people live better and happier lives. Life is conflict, and in order to develop happiness, we have to fight for it. The first step to getting out of a depression, and a negative perspective on life, is recognizing that you are viewing life with “tunnel vision”, and that your perceptions are negative because of yourself. Next is to start focusing on the positive things in your life, and then rebuilding yourself through the daily life that you lead.
My book contains strategies for all of this, including tackling such issues as pride, resentment, change, anxiety, and control. Each chapter contains concise quotes in the margins that sum up the messages I am conveying. Everything is expressed in a clear and direct manner.
I wrote Winning the Fight to be Happy as a result of a depression that I went through personally, which was partly related to being “Mr. Negative” for over 30 years of my life. I realized that negativity and depression were things that can be overcome, and also that there were other people out there in need of help. Hence, the book shows the reader how to climb out of this state. I intersperse my advice with examples from my own journey to peace of mind and happiness.
What other writers have influenced you?
The first influence that comes to mind is Marcus Aurelius, whose Meditations I began reading when I myself was undergoing a depression. His wisdom on how to maintain a positive outlook, and how to handle constant change, is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago, when he was ruling Rome at the height of the Empire.
A second influence is Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now. Sometime in 2011, when I was at one of the lowest points in my depression and overall negativity, a friend visited me and brought this book. I didn’t read it at first, and only decided to pick it up when I’d read everything else on my bookshelf. The first sentence of the book changed my life.
Undoubtedly, a third major influence has been Tal Ben-Shahar, a leader in the Positive Psychology movement and author of Happier and Being Happy. As with Tolle above, I stumbled over Ben-Shahar’s wisdom quite serendipitously. I was buying DVDs in a shop in Shanghai, and just as I was paying for the ones I’d selected, out of the corner of my eye I saw a DVD set called “Positive Psychology”, which was actually Ben-Shahar’s 24-week course that he delivered when teaching at Harvard. I still don’t know exactly why, but something in me told me to purchase that set. I watched it religiously over the next few weeks, and it was a major influence on my happiness level.
In addition to these three gentlemen, I’ve also been inspired by self-help gurus such as Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins, as well as Ben Franklin, whom I see as an early pioneer of self-improvement.
What is the one message you would like to convey to your readers?
As mentioned above, I believe that life is conflict, and that we have to fight for our happiness. This starts with acknowledging that being positive is a choice. Once you make this choice, which I help you with, you can start rebuilding, first with a foundation of peace of mind, and then, developing happiness.
Are you working on a sequel to your book?
I will definitely be writing other books, of a self-help nature.
How would you describe your publishing experience with iUniverse?
As an employee of iUniverse, I was already familiar with the process, even though I work in our Marketing department. Nonetheless, I was extremely impressed with the knowledge and finesse of my Publishing Services Associate, or PSA. She knew the answers to all of my questions, and even anticipated many of them, giving me a real feeling of reassurance. The front and back covers came out exactly as I had envisioned them. What was also great, was that the font size, layout, and overall look and feel of the book were just as I had imagined. I saw first-hand how efficient, experienced, and reliable our team really is.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write every day, even if you think you are not in the mood and that what you write will be rubbish. Part of finishing a book is simply keeping the momentum. For Winning the Fight to be Happy, I made sure to write at least 500 words per day. As I had a busy schedule of work, Rotary and charity commitments, and my social life, I had to ritualize a time to write. I chose the early morning, before the hecticness of the day begins, and was able to write for an hour before doing my exercises and going to work. Without this regimen, I would have never gotten finished!