Customer Reviews


57 Reviews
5 star:
 (46)
4 star:
 (7)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine insight
This, in many ways, is the "self-help" book for people who don't read self-help books.

Its conclusions probably won't surprise anyone - the way to find happiness is mostly just what Socrates, Jesus, Buddha et al suggested - be nice to people, do a job that satisfies you, stop chasing after material wealth, etc.

All of which might lead you to think...
Published on 20 Aug 2007 by Amazon Customer

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little superficial
Generally a useful book if you want a broad idea of some of the issues that evolutionary science is addressing. The Author is clearly a brilliant man, however I found the book a little patronising in the way it dealt with deeper issues of ancient wisdom. Kind of putting the words in ancients' mouths. I found the book very useful as a source of various issues rather than a...
Published 4 months ago by Zafreen Qureshi


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine insight, 20 Aug 2007
By 
This, in many ways, is the "self-help" book for people who don't read self-help books.

Its conclusions probably won't surprise anyone - the way to find happiness is mostly just what Socrates, Jesus, Buddha et al suggested - be nice to people, do a job that satisfies you, stop chasing after material wealth, etc.

All of which might lead you to think there's no point in reading it. But there is. Haidt is that rare beast, a serious academic who can write engagingly for the general (educated) readership. Somehow, seeing his synthesis of many, many areas of psychological research creates a real feeling of enlightenment, and I would be very surprised indeed at anyone who didn't find some serious "food for thought" within its pages.

Did reading it make me happier? Well, this is where I'm supposed to say "Well, no, but...", but - to my own surprise - the answer is actually "yes"! Just a little, but enough to justify making the book a "keeper".

Read it, and think about the way you live. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Self Help' Book for Anyone who is Too Smart for "Self Help Books", 5 Feb 2009
By 
Mr. T. White (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This book is an underrated masterpiece and should be proudly occupying all thinking persons' bookshelves. Haidt couldn't have written this book better, and he is most certainly to be commended for producing a guide to finding happiness which trumps all others.

His narrative meanders a most cerebrally scenic course via ancient philosophy, comparative religion, science and modern day psychology and literally tests the paradigms of happiness. Thus e.g. : Was Buddhism right to preach the renouncing of all material things? Or, just partly right? What part does gossip really play in our lives? What should the depressed do about their condition? What is the best way to find true happiness in your life, assuming such a thing can be found at all?

These and many other thought engaging questions are analysed with no stone unturned by a most gifted thinker. This reviewer cannot recommend this book more highly (and I normally can't be bothered with the so called "self help section"), buy it you must! A brilliant book. I am left wondering what Haidt will write about next.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings a smile to your face, 4 Nov 2012
By 
F Henwood "The bookworm that turned" (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
What does Haidt mean by happiness? It means finding meaning within life, even if one cannot find the meaning of life. He offers a robust vision of how happiness can be found in this world without the absolute certainties of fundamentalist religious faith, but also considers seriously and sympathetically the sense of the divine that religion offers to underscore our moral sense. He avoids falling into the sort of hopeless posturing indulged by existentialist philosophers or nihilism. He seeks to put the wisdom of the ancients of both East and West to the test of whether their exhortations withstand scrutiny from modern science. Most ambitiously of all, he seeks to step into the cross fire of the US culture war to try and find some sort of reconciliation between the competing visions of liberals and conservatives, and between the secular and the sacred.

First of all he sets out what the nature of the self is - a divided self, a thin crust of rationalism that has evolved relatively recently on the bedrock of a brain better attuned to threats rather than opportunities. This is what makes us so susceptible to forms of thinking and behaving that make us miserable. But here the wisdom of ancient philosophers resonates with modern cognitive behavioural therapy that 'thinking makes things so' - you can change the way you think about events and shape the way you see the world. Meditation and even Prozac have a role to play and he offers a plenty of thought provoking justifications why we should not turn our noses up at the thought of psychopharmacological cosmetic interventions to alleviate mental suffering: some of us through a combination of genes and experience are more likely to be afflicted by negative affective styles and could benefit from it (he describes in vivid detail his own experimentation with Prozac and the mixed results it brought)

Haidt has much to say in praise of Buddhist meditation and its emphasis on severing ties with carnal and material desire. While there is much to be said for this, it is an overreaction to the state of things as people need ties in order to flourish. Indeed, the research of the sociologist Durkheim found that those with few or no commitments are more likely to commit suicide than those embedded in obligations. Too much freedom - in the sense of an absence of any commitment to others - is bad for you.

Further reflections are offered on the nature of human emotion. Far from being divorced from reason, emotions are chained to reason. Those who have no emotional capacity to inform their decisions are paralysed into inaction. They go to a supermarket and stand there dumbfounded by the range of choice open to them and are overwhelmed by data. Being social creatures, we value reciprocity and reputation and gossip is the lubricant of social interaction. Gossip is a form of information sharing. Altruism is the way we build favours and show our willing to co-operate with the rules as social animals. But of course the temptation to feign compliance with the rules and play a Machiavellian game of superficial compliance with social rules while manoeuvring for selfish advantage means we need to find a solution, to save ourselves from ourselves, for our own good. For Haidt religion evolves to solve the collective action problem by reinforcing the rules of good conduct with transcendental foundations.

Haidt's boldest move is to step into the cross fire of the US cultural war between liberals and conservatives, appealing to both sides to recognize that each camp is motivated by moral concerns, and to take off the blinkers and learn from each other. Whether this appeal has the remotest chance of success - judging by the state of US politics, it doesn't - is another question. And human beings are notorious for the biases whereby they spot the shortcomings of others but overlook their own. This has practical implications. The realization that your opponents are driven by moral considerations as much as you may take the vehemence out of conflict and pave the way to some sort of resolution.

This is a thought-provoking book that achieves this effect by careful, lucid and reasoned reflections. It appeals to both your heart and your head and avoids baiting or shallow provocation. It tries to mediate peace between competing visions of the world. Though one can find plenty with which to disagree -I think he verges toward the indulgent when it comes to supposed benefits religion provides in anchoring morality - none of my disagreements diminished my enjoyment of the book. I enjoyed reading it and it changed the way I think when it comes to understanding conflicting definitions of morality, disputes over which cannot be resolved by merely by shouting at each other at the top of your voice. It also offers no easy answers in the search for happiness within life but one thing I found that, while reading it, I was actually quite happy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and important, 15 Jan 2007
By 
Peter Jackson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science (Hardcover)
This was my best non-fiction book of 2006. Haidt is an academic of genuine flair. In the Happiness Hypothesis he has produced for the general reader a synthesis of robust thinking and research around happiness. It is expressed in an accessible style, using some very simple metaphors to hold the reader's attention on key themes, as the author reviews the best of the philosophy, psychology and neurology of happiness.

To put it another way, this was accessible enough to read in bed, and robust enough to fill over 24 pages of references.

My only caveat, I thought the subtitle - 'Putting ancient wisdom and philosophy to the test of modern science' - did not get to the heart of the book. This makes it sound like a series of tests of famous aphorisms. In face, Haidt is primarily interested in evidence, but uses literary and philosophical sources to illustrate and enliven his science; to ask questions of it, and to keep an open mind. But then I think that's just good science.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the happy traveller, 30 Nov 2006
By 
Jonathan C. Shipton "shippo" (Carmarthenshire Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science (Hardcover)
This is a very readable humane book. It is both funny and insightful. I finish almost every chapter thinking yes that makes perfect sense. He expresses what we already know in our hearts about happiness; money doesn't do it,material goods don't do it for longer than five minutes. What makes us happy is a combination of genes, upbringing and lifestyle. Happiness is a journey not a destination.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable, useful enlightenment, 28 Oct 2008
This book is well researched, drawing on ancient wisdom and the findings of modern science and the thoughts of great thinkers from all around the world. It is written in an easy to understand, engaging style and is well structured.

The subject matter of what makes all humans happy is simply fascinating and it is really inspiring and useful to learn that one can improve ones level of happiness without having to spend money.

A fantastic read which could improve your time here on earth!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changes the way you think about your life, 23 April 2009
By 
L. Acres "Kadia" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book describes what we know about happiness, from Greek philosophers vis Buddha to modern psychology. The author has clearly thought about this topic a great deal and explains his ideas clearly and with enthusiasm.

I really liked the way that the ideas were related to how people live their lives in a modern society. The author suggests ways to increase happiness without radically changing the way you live.

I found the book really thought-provoking. Some of the ideas feel like common sense, but reading them set out in such a clear and well-explored way made me think more about the things that do and don't make me happy and why that might be.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is going through a soul-searching period. It's a good mix of science and life advice.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Pop Psychology book, 23 May 2008
The Happiness Hypothesis

It doesn't really matter what you believe in, we all seek happiness in our lives. So it might just make some sense to understand what happiness actually is and how it can be achieved? The Happiness Hypothesis is neither a self help book nor science for the academic ( although there are several academic papers referenced throughout), it's pop psychology for the curious and inquisitive reader.

Haidt picks his way through various religious aphorisms from Buddhism to Christianity from Hinduism to Islam and selects adages from acclaimed philosophers: Aristotle to Hume, Nietszche to Plato. He presents a selection of maxims from these various thought systems where the underpinning messages have an obvious and striking correlation. What do these correlations mean? And what can clinical psychology add as an explanation? It appears very obvious that there is an innate aspect of the human condition which pertains to happiness. It transcends beliefs, cultures and history. It's important that's understood in ones quest for happiness.

Haidt also goes a bit deeper and more towards the particular as he examines factors which determine happiness in one's job, one's relationships and things that are of a more personal nature. Why are some things more important than others in determining happiness? For example, why is commute time to work more important than the amount of free space in one's home? Haidt explains and substantiates his arguments by referring to experimental evidence and clinical psychology. So it's much more than just relying on 2,000 year old maxims, even though the snippets of ancient wisdoms dovetail nicely with modern scientific evidence he uses.

Some interesting ideas concern not only the remit of happiness but also the very opposite. He discusses best mechanism for dealing with depression: Prozac, meditation or cogitative therapy. He discusses some hard wiring in the brain and behavioural patterns for example the maximizers, who procrastinate and over analyse every choice and decision they make, and the more chilled out satisficers, who reside at the other end of fastidious spectrum. A very thought provoking point discussed is the hypothesis put forward by European Sociologist Emile Durkheim in the late 19th century which correlated probability of suicide with the lack of constraint or obligations in one's life. It's one I had never heard before and with the tragedy of suicide ubiquitous it would certainly make one wonder.

Like all good writers, Haidt has the ability of explaining the esoteric. He does an excellent job of explaining Kant's categorical imperative, scientific concepts such as group selection and the fact that human brain and head size mean that babies are born at very early stage of biological development compared with our primate cousins.

In summary, this book is not an eureka. It's a gentle reminder that happiness is important. There are ways of understanding it that can both be generic or particular and that they are cues from ancient wisdom which we can examine using some modern science and clinical psychology.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best non-fiction that I have read this year, 11 Sep 2009
By 
G. C. Brown "Neither them nor us" (Co. Down, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Fascinating, insightful and scholarly analysis of what we can learn about psychology, happiness, morality and religion from ten great ideas of ancient wisdom when probed with the tool of modern scientific studies.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a guide to being less judgemental, 7 Feb 2009
I am a GP and I have read this book more than once over the last 2-3 years. I keep copies of it to lend to patients and many others have ordered it at my suggestion.
The book brings together several important strands of life in a way which certainly makes sense to me and apparently to others. I suspect it will appeal most to people who are more logical in their thinking patterns and find it difficult to understand the apparent irrationality of certain types of belief and behaviour (in themselves and others).
Personally I found the idea of a tiny mahout of conscious rational thinking trying to control the charging elephant of subconcious drives very easy to explain to my patients.
I found a strong resonance with the section on the different kinds of love. My own Version of this chapter would be titled - "Fall in Love, Fall in Lust, but Grow a Trust". and don't have children with someone until you have known them for at least 4 years.
Like most really useful treatments in medicine this book will probably appeal more to people who need its advice least - because by buying the book they have already shown a desire to understand themselves and change. Peope who are sure that they are "right" are the ones who need to see the light under the shadow of the Elephant.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science
Used & New from: £4.68
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews