Sunday Book Review : The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient WisdomThe Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a reputation of being some what of a negative cuss. In the spirit of ever seeking improvement of myself, I figured I would begin seeking what psychologists have to say about happiness. Haidt’s work seems fairly well received so I started here. Holy shit, this was not what I expected. I expected Oprah-esque doses of fluffy psycho-babble about positive feelings. In stead I got a a healthy dose of vitrue, happiness, fulfillment and meaning.

Haidt has taken several “Great Ideas” on happiness by luminaries of the past such as Plato, Buddha, Jesus, etc and studies those ideas that have common themes through the lens of modern psychology. From these he spells out lessons that apply to us.

In it, Haidt poses several “Great Ideas” on happiness espoused by thinkers of the past – Plato, Buddha, Jesus and others – and examines them in the light of contemporary psychological research, extracting from them any lessons that still apply to our modern lives. Central to the book are the concepts of virtue, happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. This is not a self help book, it is a philosophy book.

James Flint’s review in the Guardian probably sums it up best – “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.”

Available on Overdrive.

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