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The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living Paperback – 8 Nov 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; Reprint edition (8 Nov 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340750154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340750155
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sit down with the Dalai Lama and really press him about life's persistent questions? Why are so many people unhappy? How can I abjure loneliness? How can we reduce conflict? Is romantic love true love? Why do we suffer? How should we deal with unfairness and anger? How do you handle the death of a loved one? These are the conundrums that psychiatrist Howard Cutler poses to the Dalai Lama during an extended period of interviews in The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. At first, the Dalai Lama's answers seem simplistic, like a surface reading of Robert Fulghum: ask yourself if you really need something; our enemies can be our teachers; compassion brings peace of mind. Cutler pushes: but some people do seem happy with lots of possessions; but "suffering is life" is so pessimistic; but going to extremes provides the zest in life; but what if I don't believe in karma? As the Dalai Lama's responses become more involved, a coherent philosophy takes shape. Cutler then develops the Dalai Lama's answers in the context of scientific studies and cases from his own practice, substantiating and elaborating on what he finds to be a revolutionary psychology. Like any art, the art of happiness requires study and practice--and the talent for it, the Dalai Lama assures us, is in our nature. --Brian Bruya

Review

An intriguing encounter between East and West (Mail on Sunday) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 82 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Aug 2000
Format: Paperback
Howard C Cutler, an experienced practising psychotherapist, spent years, in America and India, talking with HH The Dalai Lama, presenting him with problems encountered in Western life, and recording his responses. Cutler arranged the results into a sequence which leads us through the universal search for happiness, the obstacles, and how it can really be achieved.
In reading fairly widely on these subjects, from both a Western and an Eastern perspective, I have never before come across a book which compares the two, point by point, resolving apparent conflicts, and extracting the fundamental truths which lie beneath, making the differences seem essentially superficial. For me, this approach resolved problems which I have never solved before. For instance, the anomaly of perceived attitudes to anger - the Western ("don't suppress it, express it"), and the Eastern ("rise above it"). The answer isn't simple, but it's in this book.
The Art of Happiness - A Handbook for Living is, as its name suggests, a practical handbook. It is best read from beginning to end, but thereafter accessible by dipping into a section as needed. I have had my copy for a long time, and keep returning to it. For example, re-reading the section 'Dealing with Anxiety' puts such feelings into perspective and reinforces pragmatic solutions. There's a lively approach throughout, punctuated by illustrations from Howard Cutler's case-book - real examples of the problems of people he has dealt with over many years in practice, and occasionally his own worries about life. The Dalai Lama also contributes some examples from people he has met, and his own experience. Both can be enlightening and humorous.
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108 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Feb 2008
Format: Paperback
I first came to this book after one of my counselling clients mentioned that he had been reading it, and that he thought it had helped him to further understand how he needed to change. Intrigued, I decided to get my hands on the book to see if I could discover why he found it so useful.

As you could expect from a book that has the involvement of the Dalai Lama, what I found was a very spiritual, compassionate discourse on life. However, like a previous reviewer, I also found that the voice of Howard Cutler lets this book down. Although I can understand why they have decided to tackle this subject in the way they have - the book is set out as an interview between the two men, interspersed with anecdotes from Cutler's own experience - I feel that it takes focus away from the Dalai Lama's voice. I would prefer this book if it was just a commentary by the Dalai Lama.

That gripe aside, I think THE ART OF HAPPINESS is a delightful way to bring Western thinkers around to another way of seeing life and themselves. As a way of introducing Tibetan Buddhism, this book is a triumph - it is engaging, enjoyable, thought-provoking and an easy way of beginning an interest in this philosophy.
If you read this and enjoy it, I would also recommned that you then go and read some work by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who writes beautiful books on Buddhism.
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133 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Adam Khan on 29 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
Here is a surprisingly good book, written by a psychiatrist who interviewed the Dalai Lama many times. The book is a combination of narrative by the author and extended quotes of the Dalai Lama's answers. And Cutler asks some good questions.
Sometimes the Dalai Lama's answers seem simple. Part of it is the language. English is obviously not his first language, so he uses almost nothing but ordinary, everyday English -- no jargon, no technical terms, no psychiatric lingo. And yet he obviously has a profound grasp of human nature. Another reason his answers sound simple is because they are rooted in practicality. He isn't trying to explain how things are, he's trying to describe what you can DO to become happier. Descriptions of actions are much simpler and more concrete than explanations.
I'm the author of the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works, and I found the psychiatrist's orientation and the Dalai Lama's practicality combined to make some excellent self-help. I've tried many of the Dalai Lama's suggestions and they really work. One of his suggestions is to think about the similarities between you and other people -- specifically that they want to be happy, just like you do, and they also suffer, just like you do. I know it sounds almost too basic, but when I've actually thought about that while talking to someone, I feel noticeably closer to the person, and that feeling of closeness is relaxing, soothing, calming, and very pleasant. That feeling of closeness increases my happiness.
The Art of Happiness is an excellent book and I recommend it highly.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Simon on 22 Jan 2010
Format: Paperback
I met the Dalai Lama once, in Dharamsala, although I didn't speak to him - I shook his hand, and he gave me a red cotton wristband. What impressed me was that he really looked at me with his full attention, and smiled, and seemed to radiate benevolence. This book radiates benevolence in the same way, looking at happiness from the Buddhist point of view, and suggesting how to live in such a way as to increase our well-being. There is a great deal of emphasis on compassion, and on understanding our own minds, and how our own negative thoughts and emotions create discord in our lives. It's wise and well-written, but I did miss a little bit of more practical advice, some concrete steps on what we can do increase our happiness. To make up for this omission, perhaps this book needs to read together with a book such as Authentic Happiness. I must also recommend Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of our Minds by Steve Taylor, a great book on the factors which stop us finding harmony and happiness, and how we can overcome them. Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds
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