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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Professor Happy, for this encouraging book!
This book is about happiness and behaviour, and is written in two parts:

Part one explores the concept of happiness and includes new research which refers to other researchers' materials and findings. Part two is concerned with examining our own experiences and makes suggestions on how to deliver happiness for yourself and those you care about. There are simple...
Published 1 month ago by G. Bright

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas but I wouldn't recommend it as a self-help book
This book has two main parts. The first part defines happiness and says what the current thinking is about it. It's by no means the first book to describe the ingredients of happiness but the emphasis on purpose is an interesting idea. We are all aware of the psychological bias we have towards current versus future pleasure (e.g. having some cake now, before we start our...
Published 2 months ago by suilven


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas but I wouldn't recommend it as a self-help book, 25 Sep 2014
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This book has two main parts. The first part defines happiness and says what the current thinking is about it. It's by no means the first book to describe the ingredients of happiness but the emphasis on purpose is an interesting idea. We are all aware of the psychological bias we have towards current versus future pleasure (e.g. having some cake now, before we start our diet). The author highlights another bias which is that we wrongly assume that simple pleasures such as watching TV will make us happier than purposeful activities such as work. It's a useful perspective.

The second part offers some advice about how to put these ideas into practice. Unfortunately (for the reader!) the author has a successful career, a well-balanced life and is naturally a very happy and active person. If you have real problems, many of the ideas will comes across as trivial and patronising, such as "spend more time with people you like", "improve your commute", "spend less time on the internet" and "stop procrastinating". He even goes into his own experiences of owning a high-powered sports car and bodybuilding. Anyone lonely, jobless or ill is liable to be thoroughly depressed by the time they get to the end of that lot!

Further thoughts:
Well, at least the book got me thinking, but I suspect that the effect of making tweaks to one's life is likely to be short-lived. I recall an experiment in which office workers' morale improved when their lighting was changed... up or down! Of course the morale boost wore off quickly and was likely caused by the novelty factor plus the feeling that someone cared about their wellbeing. I reckon most of us have a default level of happiness just as we have a default weight, and both are very hard but not impossible to change permanently, as dieters will know. Quick-fix happiness is about as likely to be successful as a quick-fix diet. Dolan is rather dismissive of mindfulness-based techniques but if you are prepared to put in the time and effort it really can make a lasting difference. "The Mindful Way Through Depression" by Mark Williams et al is a sensitive and intelligent read, whether or not you are a sufferer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Professor Happy, for this encouraging book!, 8 Nov 2014
By 
G. Bright "chronically sedulous" (Derbyshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
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This book is about happiness and behaviour, and is written in two parts:

Part one explores the concept of happiness and includes new research which refers to other researchers' materials and findings. Part two is concerned with examining our own experiences and makes suggestions on how to deliver happiness for yourself and those you care about. There are simple diagrams to illustrate points raised, and tables to examine your own daily experiences.

My favourite areas are the social stories which put the information into a practical context, and enhances understanding of the written texts.

I found this book clear, concise and easy to read. I have been encouraged to examine my experiences and retrain my focus. I am currently filling out daily feedback charts - look out world!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happiness by Design - it does exactly what it says on the tin, 24 Oct 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
I found this book very interesting. It gave me a method to understand how my day to day activities, habits and so forth impact my happiness. For example, I find that my mind might argue that going to the pub is a waste of time and that I should be using my weekends in a more purposeful manner. After the reading the book, I have come to understand that while the pub might be viewed as a pleasurable experience, it is also purposeful in building stronger friendships, helping me unwind etc.
I am not trained in Psychology but I found the author's prose engaging and the content of the book generally easy to understand.
Most people want their family and mates to be happy and after reading 'Happiness by Design', it will certainly be a stocking filler this year.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended!, 21 Oct 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
Paul Dolan explains to us what happiness really is (and no, it's not sex, drugs and rock and roll): it's having a balance of pleasure and purpose in life. So many people live hedonistic lifestyles in the belief that pleasure will make them happier, when actually, it's the indulgent stuff combined with the meaningful, worthwhile stuff that makes us truly happy. Dolan also shows us show we can design our lives to achieve our own personal balance of leisure and purpose, and debunks a large bunch of myths about happiness along the way. This is a really refreshing thesis and a really practical guide to a happier life. Definitely worth reading and chock full of great research too! Highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think I might be a sentimental hedonist too, 14 Sep 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book. I did my undergraduate degree in Psychology and now work in marketing, so that's where I'm coming from. I remembered many of the principles it talks about from my degree like confirmation bias - "we attend to information and evidence to support what we believe and ignore information that does not" - but there were many fresh twists like behavioural spillovers - exercising can unconsciously spill over to rewarding yourself to eat more and so might not help with weight loss. I really watch out for that now! The book begins by defining exactly what happiness is, experiences of pleasure and purpose, as in contrast to momentary evaluations about life overall. I was persuaded by the argument that we should seek happiness as an ultimate goal even though many people don't, especially considering happiness includes purpose, and so working for me can be seen as contributing towards my happiness and not just by bank account. I liked the focus on changing your environment to change behaviour to be happier and not just trying to think happier... a bunch of interesting research in there like how Twitter might help with weight but I won't spoil the book any more than I have. The practical examples at the end on procrastination and helping others were useful in thinking about how I could apply the principles earlier in the book, although I don't really struggle myself with doing either of those things. I do wonder, though, how possible it is to separate evaluations from experiences...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am happy with it, 11 Nov 2014
By 
Andrew Dalby "ardalby" (oxford) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
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It is not often that you find an academic who can write with wit, humour and an obvious passion for their subject, as well as maintaining academic credibility. It is always a fine line between popularising and being rigorous but Paul Dolan walks the line perfectly. This book carries you along on an exploration of happiness and his key view that it is attention that drives happiness. Once we are more aware of what we are attending to then we can discover our happiness. This means that happiness is more than the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure, against this has to be balanced a sense of purposes. Dolan also shows that this will change over your life and because of events and that in some areas of your life the balance shifts between pleasure and purpose. So I have to say that it made me happy and I am paying some attention, even if I cannot imagine the misery he associates with having children (he does say that this is balanced by pleasure but for me they don't have a down side).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a happiness book like you've never seen one before, 18 Sep 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
This is a happiness book like you've never seen one before.

Most books in this canon will ask you to re-train your brain. However, brain training for happiness is an incredibly difficult task and takes year of work - everyone from Buddhist monks to frazzled city-workers to melancholic meaning-seekers struggles with it. This is because we're essentially hardwired to freak out (it's evolutionary - our natural tendency to focus on the negative used to keep us alive when threats loomed around every cave corner) and the skill and effort needed to re-set our Palaeolithic programming should not be underestimated.

This book blazes a new trail by showing us that there is a new way to wellbeing. Dolan empowers us with a strategy for achieving happiness that does not require us to overcome the deeply ingrained thinking patterns that evolution has left us with, but rather one that shows us how to work with them and to use them to our advantage.

Given that most of our feelings, thoughts and behaviours are automatic reactions to stimuli that we process unconsciously, Dolan shows us that we can actually design our environment so that the feelings, thoughts and behaviours that are most conducive to happiness are systematically and continually triggered, independent of any need for brain training or active "thought management". By optimally designing our physical and social contexts, we can relax the effortful happiness-seeking remit of the conscious mind, safe in the knowledge that our unconscious brain will be bouncing off the types of stimuli and sensations that science has proven will make us feel good. Aside from the wellbeing benefits themselves, another huge advantage of this solution is that the conscious mind is freed up to deal with things more strategic than worrying about the pursuit of happiness.

Dolan's book is revolutionary because it doesn't tell us to think our way to happiness; it tells us to invest a little up-front effort in some re-structuring of our daily routine, and then to sit back and let our unconscious mind deliver the rewards. It's happiness by default, thanks to happiness by design.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has challenged my preconceptions about happiness books. As a researcher in the field of ..., 17 Sep 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
This book has challenged my preconceptions about happiness books. As a researcher in the field of happiness policy, I think I know more or less what happiness is about, yet have always kept away from uttering a word about it even to those friends in trouble. Guiding ordinary person's daily life through scientific knowledge is tough. The attempts, so far, have been either too complex or too mundane. Still, happiness has been desired and chased by humans since forever and ever more so in these demanding times-politicians haven't been very successful in promoting it. So, empowering individuals to be happy carries much significance today and here comes a book that does exactly that in the most original way. Paul Dolan pushes for a twist in the literature, a simple yet substantial one: he asks you to direct your attention to your momentary experiences, spot the ones that give you pleasure or purpose and spread those into your daily life in a balanced way. You'll find lots of evidence and insight in his book, they will tell you the why and how of applying the ppp, pleasure and purpose principle to your daily life. I promise by the time you finish the book, you'll already start practising without even realizing. happy reading!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and funny - a great read!, 15 Oct 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
A smart, funny and insightful look at what could and should make our lives happier. Dolan draws together academic work from a range of disciples and relates it in an engaging and original way that is far removed from stuffiness of academia or the preachy self-help guides that fill far too many book shelves. A great read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Happy Equation - don't miss, 15 Sep 2014
This review is from: Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life (Hardcover)
Practical, clever, fun, evidence-based... Don't miss this important piece of work by Paul Dolan. I have already starting applying lessons to my life - I am happier...
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