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on 16 May 2017
I think this book is a really good read, and I have recommended it to a lot of friends and family. I do love a good popular science book anyway, so I really liked that this book is not framed as a 'self-help' manual, but is an accessible drawing together of the research that the author has undertaken on the subject. I found some of the themes within the book to be incredibly useful, from the perspective of changing how one feels about (and perceives) happiness. For me, the two key things that came out of the book were: 1. that you need both pleasure and purpose in your life to be happy (and obviously the correct balance of these for the individual concerned); and 2. that thinking you can only be happy if/when you have achieved the 'big-ticket' item (be it relationship, house, money, job etc etc), is wrong, and results in an unhappy lot, as your perception of how happy you are actually reflects the aggregate of those small moments of happiness you experience each day. So after having read this book (a number of times!) I now make sure that I get a measure of 'pleasure' in my day (to balance out the 'purpose' - which I have too much of, unfortunately!), and I make sure that I recognise and seek out small moments of joy each day (that delicious coffee, speaking with a friend, looking at my children sleeping...) and I am so much happier for it. And those big-ticket items no longer stand in the way... I feel quite liberated! Thank you so much, Paul Dolan - keep up the good work!!
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on 25 September 2014
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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on 13 August 2017
Not a bad read but it does say a lot of things that you have probably read in a million self help books.
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on 6 March 2015
Dull and uninspiring and on occasions rather patronising, with no advice about how to navigate through life's difficult times. It is all very well to identify that your job, relationship etc. is not making you happy, but often these problems cannot easily be solved by ending the relationship or finding a new job. In the current economic climate particularly, many people are unable to effect these changes since jobs are so difficult to come by, or relationships cannot be exited for a variety of reasons. It would be useful to receive real guidance about how to find happiness under the difficult circumstances which many people find themselves in during the course of life.
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on 17 February 2016
ver nice book
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on 13 October 2016
Arrived safely and in good condition. A quality paperback.
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on 20 March 2017
No further comment at this stage, other than that the headline above is a subjective view on how I felt after reading this.
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on 9 December 2016
An amazing read, so inspiring. It's on my bookshelf ready to be picked up again. Really put my negative thoughts into focus.
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on 16 September 2014
I chose this book because I'm interested in both psychology and happiness, however I was a little disappointed and felt that there wasn't much new in here. I read Daniel Kahnemann's brilliant book fairly recently and felt there was a lot of overlap in some areas. Many of the anecdotes I knew from other publications (the fisherman and the business man for example). The personal examples about bodybuilding were really tedious to me, sorry! This is certainly a well researched book and the bibliography takes up about 25 percent of the pages! Not for me I'm afraid.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The subject matter of this book is really intriguing - in an era where everyone constantly seems to be striving for happiness, this offers the tantalising prospect of how you can achieve it.

And I can imagine some people really enjoying this book. To do so, though, requires you to be fairly analytical in nature and happy to wade through a lot of chaff to find the wheat.

The likes of Dan Ariely, Malcolm Gladwell and Daniel Kahneman (who the author has worked with and who supplies a cover quote) have made psychology 'cool' in recent years, without necessarily dumbing down or ignoring the science bit.

And there's no way you could accuse Paul Dolan of dumbing down. Far from it.

And this is the book's main failing. It is so overloaded with science and data that it's far too tough going.

Added to that, the writing style is simply not engaging enough to propel this into top-seller status.

I'm sure Paul Dolan is a first-class scientist and I possibly don't have the intellectual rigour to truly do this material justice, but he's not a compelling enough writer which is why I can't rate the book any higher.
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