By Hugh Hewitt
Thomas Nelson: 2013
“Remarkably, self-sacrifice and generosity produce the greatest, most enduring happiness,” says Hugh Hewitt. We’ve heard this before. So many times, really, that it no longer sounds remarkable. What is remarkable is how quickly we forget.
Hewitt’s The Happiest Life is a reminder of what is most important. Not money. Not achievement. It is, rather, what we give away.
Hewitt focuses on seven gifts, not “shoes and purses, iPads and basketball tickets,” but gifts that are enduring–gifts that are also available to anyone. “Everyone is eligible to be a giver of these gifts. Everyone. You don’t need wealth. You don’t have to be twenty-one. You don’t even have to be literate.”
Hewitt spends a chapter each on seven gifts, telling stories to illustrate the impact that each can have. I found myself continuously highlighting or writing quotes on sticky notes: “For as long as you draw breath, you can encourage the people in your life,” or, regarding empathy, “The gift of quiet, advice-free companionship in the midst of suffering is a gift of the highest order.”
Besides the seven gifts, we read about the seven givers (spouses, parents, teachers, coworkers…). These are relationships in which we have the best opportunity to be givers.
Hewitt then moves on to the Greatest Giver—God. A right relationship with, or understanding of God will move people to love and serve others: “Today’s Christianity, the right and proper understanding of the gospel of peace, is no threat to anyone. Its most certain practitioners are spread out across the world doing good…regardless of the faiths of those who receive that good.” Hewitt says the same of those of many other faiths as well.
I didn’t plan to read the Happiest Life in one day; my attention span doesn’t allow that. But I did. The book itself is a gift of the type that Hewitt encourages us to give. And the writing is relaxed and enjoyable. While it is serious, it is also fun. I laughed out loud at one point, which I rarely do.
Hewitt strays down many paths, and often strays off the path. You almost forget where you are going before he comes back, but he does, and makes his point. Perhaps his attention span is like mine, which is understandable, but I’ve forgotten what we were talking about… If not for this, I would give the book a near perfect review.
I’m convinced that this book has to do with the most important topics in life. It is, after all, based upon those commandments that Jesus said were the greatest—Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
“It is all about the giving: that which you have received from God and that which you give in His name. And if you have forgotten that, recall it. If you have failed, start again. If you are happy, be thankful. And if you aren’t, you can be.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.