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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by [Haidt, Jonathan]
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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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"Library Journal," Best Books 2006 With singular gusto, Haidt measures ten Great Ideas against past/present research in psychology and science. "LJ" s verdict: Dr. Phil et al. don t have diddly on the old-school sages. No man is an island, indeed, and no modern reader should be without this carefully considered demystification of life. Darrin McMahon, "The Washington Post" [T]he psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows in his wonderfully smart and readable "The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom" [that] modern science and history have a lot to say to each other." "People" [An] inspiring nuanced study. "Nature" This is a delightful book.... Haidt s writing embraces spiritual and mystical viewpoints while retaining scientific and rational coherence. "Guardian"(London) [A] marvelous book.... I don t think I ve ever read a book that laid out the contemporary understanding of the human condition with such simple clarity and sense. "Psychology Today" Haidt s remedy for the modern glut of frivolous self-help literature is to review and revise the classics, examining the ideas of thinkers like Plato, Buddha and Jesus in light of modern research into human behavior. Along the way, Haidt, a social psychologist, provides practical advice for parenting, romance, work and coping with the political and cultural divisions currently preoccupying the country. The new science he outlines mostly confirms ancient wisdom, but Haidt finds several instances where the two disagree, suggesting that the surest path to happiness is to embrace and balance both old and new thinking. "Sunday Times"(London) This unusual book sets itself apart from the self-help category with its extensive scientific references, and intelligent, neutral prose, while the author s illuminating illustration of how the human mind works is both educational and refreshing. Haidt has served up a hearty dish of conventional wisdom, accompanied by a selection of psychological science of excellent vintage.... This book not only offers practical suggestions to help us succeed in these efforts, but also discusses why we should reexamine much of what we have been taught in the light of new psychological knowledge. "Seattle Times" A disarming, original book, reassuring to those more conversant with worriment than merriment.... Smart and serious without pomposity. "The Oregonian" Haidt explains why what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and why the Golden Rule works. "Library Journal" A fresh, serious, elevating guide to living everyday life better. "Bookpage" Haidt is a fine guide on this journey between past and present, discussing the current complexities of psychological theory with clarity and humor.... Haidt s is an open-minded, robust look at philosophy, psychological fact and spiritual mystery, of scientific rationalism and the unknowable ephemeral an honest inquiry that concludes that the best life is, perhaps, one lived in the balance of opposites. Antonio Damasio, author of"Looking for Spinoza" Jonathan Haidt leaves no doubt about the importance of emotion in the creation of personal meaning. This is a delightful and courageous book. David M. Buss, author of"The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating" "The Happiness Hypothesis" is a wonderful and nuanced book that provides deep insight into the some of the most important questions in lifeWhy are we here? What kind of life should we lead? What paths lead to happiness? From the ancient philosophers to cutting edge scientists, Haidt weaves a tapestry of the best and the brightest. His highly original work on elevation and awetwo long-neglected emotions--adds a new weave to that tapestry. A truly inspiring book. Daniel Wegner, author of"The Illusion of Conscious Will" Should we live our lives by age-old wisdom or the latest discoveries? Haidt gives us the luxury of not having to choose, bringing together both sources of insight in this sparkling investigation into the psychology of life and happiness. William Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescenceand author of"The Moral Child" It would be something of an exaggeration to say that Jonathan Haidt has found the final answer to happiness, but he has come as close as any other writer of our times. Every page of his book provides gems of insight about the good life and where to look for it. Anyone who is interested in humannature and its potential must read this book. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of"FLOW" "This fresh and original book goes to the heart of what people have found out about happiness, across cultures and times. Enjoyable, important, and eminently readable." David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, author of"Intuition: Its Powers and Its Perils" An intellectual tour de force that weaves into one fabric wisdom that is ancient and modern, religious and scientific, Eastern and Western, liberal and conservativeall with the aim of pointing us to a more meaningful, moral, and satisfying life. Barry Schwartz, author of""The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less"" In this beautifully written book, Jonathan Haidt shows us the deep connection that exists between cutting-edge psychological research and the wisdom of the ancients. It is inspiring to see how much modern psychology informslife's most central and persistent questions Martin E.P. Seligman, Director, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of"Authentic Happiness" In our quest for happiness, we must find a balance between modern science and ancient wisdom, between East and West, and between left brain and right brain. Jon Haidt has struck that balance perfectly, and in doing so has given us the most brilliant and lucid analysis ofvirtue and well-being in the entire literature of positive psychology. For the reader who seeks to understand happiness, my advice is: Begin with Haidt. "


'Superbly argued, crystal clear and intelligent... And you know what? Reading it did actually make this reviewer happier.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1014 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (26 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E749TE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #634,728 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: 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.
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By F Henwood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: 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.
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