The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science Paperback – 5 Apr 2007
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"Riveting... Brilliantly synthesising ancient cultural insights with modern psychology and even holding out some faint hope that your happiness, if not your tallness, might be marginally adjustable after all." (Sunday Times)
"Marvellous... Haidt...takes us on an extraordinary journey... 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." (James Flint Guardian)
"A superbly argued, crystal clear and intelligent blend of new directions in contemporary experimental psychology with traditional philosophical thought... And you know what? Reading it did actually make this reviewer happier." (Arena)
"A delightful book... By some margin the most intellectually substantial book to arise from the 'Positive Psychology' movement." (Nature)
"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" (Library Journal Best Books 2006)
A brilliantly original exploration of what we can learn about the meaning of human life and how we should live our lives, drawing both on the wisdom of the great thinkers and on the insights of modern science. For all readers of Alain de Botton.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Put many things in a different perspective for me. Fun to read. Highly recommend.Published 6 days ago by Mira Abel
Absolutely adored this book. The author takes heavy concepts and lightens them with his deft descriptions that allowed me to "get" the theory and easily "get" the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by LHG
This book is quite good, it contains many interesting insights, I echo the feelings of many other reviewers.
However, the book is particularly annoying to read. Read more
A different reflective approach to the Science of Happiness with easy to follow explanations of its origins and how it's an important political value for governments. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard Mangas
Loved it, it is very academic so you would need to be studying or very interested in psychology to enjoy this bookPublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
A real insight to what makes us happy. Read with an open mind and you will get a real insight to what's needed and also a great understanding on how our brain worksPublished 6 months ago by Steve Emery