The basic premise of the book is that as we grow up, we become familiar with feelings of unhappiness if we are raised with overly harsh, punitive treatment by the adults in our lives. Because we love our parents and caretakers, and because we experience many of these emotions before we are cognitively mature enough to evaluate such treatment, we accept that we deserve to feel unhappy when we don't meet others' expectations. When we do feel happy, it's unfamiliar to us, so we unconsciously sabotage our happiness in order to maintain our emotional equilibrium. This carries over into every other aspect of our lives, including personal relationships, career, and physical well-being. The Piepers, who are professional therapists, offer many practical suggestions to counteract these tendencies.