Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine Hardcover – 22 Sep 2016
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"Witty, useful and beautifully written... this book grapples expansively with the most profound questions any of us face" (The Sunday Times)
"Brilliant. Really brilliant and just crammed with wisdom and insight. It will genuinely make a difference to me and the way I think about myself. I'm going to recommend it to everyone I know." (Stephen Fry)
"Brown tries to resurrect the original Stoic ambitions here: not just to live well but to die well, too. His book is thoughtful, insightful and ultimately, well, helpful." (Sunday Times Books of the Year)
"Til now, we've known Derren Brown as a supreme illusionist and magician. Now he surprises us with a new and brilliant identity: as a philosopher. Not just any philosopher. Brown takes philosophy back to its truest task: that of helping us to live and die well. His book is deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love. It sets out to change lives - and it will. Derren has pulled off a properly implausible trick: that of making the deepest ideas relevant, humane and urgent." (Alain de Botton)
"In this wise and perceptive book Derren Brown has conjoined personal experience, profoundly sensible psychology and the magic of philosophy to produce a really excellent account of how to be happy - really, maturely, properly happy. This is a wonderfully educative - and enjoyable! - book, and should be on everyone's reading list, always. " (A.C. Grayling)
Derren explores the history and philosophy of happiness and explains why everything is fine, more or less...!See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
This has changed my approach to life and mortality. And I do feel happy and tranquil as a result. Others have noticed a difference and have commented...which is fine (even if I can't really control their perceptions!) They should prescribe this book on the National Health Service and save the UK £billions.
It's an accessible and beautifully-explained book. But it's also an uncompromising book for intelligent adults. If you are someone who fears you might struggle with 'intellectual' or 'philosophical' conceits, please still give it a go. If you persevere, it might reward you a thousandfold; and if it's simply not for you, that's also fine!
I'm so grateful to Derren Brown for giving us this masterpiece. I hope it lives long after we're all gone. 🙂
Stoicism wasn’t anything new to me. I had fallen in love with the Mediatations of Marcus Aurelius when I was a teenager, and it’s still a book that I pull regularly from the shelf to this day. Derren Brown’s success is in taking the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and the other Stoics, and making them both accessible and understandable to a 21st century audience. His method for doing this (the “trick,” if you will) entails the reader coming to understand that his or her entire life is a story; a narrative; one that we tell ourselves about ourselves, and one which ultimately shapes our self-perceptions and worldview.
Many of the principles which can be found at the core of the Stoic philosophy are utterly simple; the devil lies in the execution. Brown explains in great detail how supposedly negative events themselves rarely hurt us; it is usually our beliefs, feelings, or judgments concerning those events which do.
Much space is devoted to the fact that material goods, money, and other ephemeral pleasures rarely serve to bring true lasting happiness. Brown talks about the reasons why this is, citing a great deal of scientific research in addition to quoting other learned authors on the subject of happiness. He also discusses helpful, practical ways in which we can deal with anger, hurt, aggression, addiction, and the ever-present fear of death (the book ends on a tour de force note, with a section on how we can die well).
The book can also be seen as an assault on the multi-billion dollar industry of self-help and positive thinking. Derren reserves much of his ire for fads such as The Secret, and details extensively how “the power of positive thinking” can actually be harmful to us. Take the example of the U.S. airman captured by enemy forces during the Vietnam War. It is both saddening and enlightening to hear that many of those men who did not survive their brutal captivity were optimists by nature, and insisted on thinking positively: “We’ll be out by Christmas…OK, we’ll be out by the 4th of July…OK, we’ll be out by Thanksgiving…” When holiday after holiday rolled around and they found themselves to be still incarcerated, many of these POWs began to literally curl up and die…whereas the officer who fell back upon the principals of Seneca and the Stoics made it through eight years of hell, ultimately surviving to regain his freedom.
I am going to make a concerted attempt to incorporate some of these concepts into my own way of thinking and living, and I heartily commend Derren’s book to everybody. Everybody. We can all learn something from this well thought-out piece of philosophical writing, and I would go so far as to say that it is currently my favorite book of 2016.
Pick up a copy and read it carefully. I doubt that you’ll be disappointed.
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