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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom | [Jonathan Haidt]

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

This is a book about 10 "Great Ideas". Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world's civilizations - to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives.
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Publisher's Summary

This is a book about 10 "Great Ideas". Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world's civilizations - to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives.

©2006 Jonathan Haidt; (P)2007 Gildan Media

What the Critics Say

"I don't think I've ever read a book that laid out the comtemporary understanding of the human condition with such simple clarity and sense." (The Guardian, UK)
"A delightful book...by some margin the most intellectually substantial book to arise from the 'positive psychology' movement." (Nature)
"Fascinating stuff, accessibly expressed." (Booklist)

What Members Say

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  •  
    David Crozet, VA, United States 01-25-07
    David Crozet, VA, United States 01-25-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Exceptional synthesis of psychology and philosophy"

    The publisher's title for and capsule summary of "The Happiness Hypothesis" doesn't do full justice to the exceptional range of learning, research, and wisdom that combine in this book. It's not pop psychology or a generic self-help book: Haidt is a professor in the Psychology Department at the U. of Virginia, and a leading researcher in the "moral emotions". His working hypothesis is that human moral systems have underpinnings in evolutionary biology, but he's as far from being a reductionist as possible. Instead he believes it's impossible to understand morality, and by extension happiness, without examining their history in human cultures and religions.

    Haidt covers a tremendous range of interwoven topics: the history of Western moral philosophy; ideas of virtue and the sacred in Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism; child development and parent-child bonding in relation to the moral emotions; modern neuroscience and the biological foundations of behavior; and the role of trauma and adversity in personal growth. He is especially gifted at explaining things in everyday language, avoiding jargon and carefully defining and illustrating new terminology.

    George Wilson's narration is clear and paced appropriately, and he's solid on technical terms, foreign names, and so on. He gets a chance now and then to show his skill in creating voices for extended quotations from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and William James.

    168 of 170 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tonny Herlev, Denmark 03-12-09
    Tonny Herlev, Denmark 03-12-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    174
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    "You must read this book"

    It's not really a self help book at all, it's more like a guide to the human brain, if you ever wonder why you think you are so much different then everybody else, this book will explain why you are not and why you are almost exactly like the rest of us, it also tells us what brain functions make us believe in religion, and so much more, I rate this book a must read, even if you have no knowledge about brain anatomy and functions.
    The book offers some insight into early philosophy and it draws parallels to modern brain research, but that part is just publicity.
    Other must read books Phantoms in the brain Ramachandran, origin of species Darwin

    58 of 61 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer San Diego, CA USA 10-11-07
    Amazon Customer San Diego, CA USA 10-11-07 Member Since 2006

    Samster

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    "Must Read"

    One of the best books I have read this year, a must read. A lot of current psychological research on the human condition presented along with a good dose of ancient wisdom and philosophy. It's not just a self help book on happiness - but gives a comprehensive picture of what it's all about.

    40 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony san francisco, CA, USA 03-21-10
    Tony san francisco, CA, USA 03-21-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unhappy? Listen to this"

    This book offers a great look into what makes people happy, while at the same time illuminating some elements that may be keeping you from reaching your happiness potential. This insight, coupled with practical solutions offered in the book, provide real means for increasing one's day-to-day level of happiness. A fantastic listen for anyone interested in the way we think and perceive the world around us!

    25 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eileen 02-19-07
    Eileen 02-19-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Must Read"

    This book was enlightening, informing and entertaining. It is by far the best nonfiction listening I have ever experienced. Moreover I found the information in it delightful conversation starters. His analysis of philosophical, religeous, and social history as it relates to modern research on the function of the brain was astounding. Whether you agree with him or not, this is one you have to listen to.

    50 of 53 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ANDREW United States 04-15-11
    ANDREW United States 04-15-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Best Book on the Subject"

    Tying in the wisdom of ancient philosophers and religions' teachings, Haidt masterfully creates an argument that we are more in control of our happiness than we could ever imagine. He connects how our brains work with why we think like we do. He explains 'elevation': an emotion I have often where I feel a rush of adrenaline and tear up when seeing/hearing masterfully done art or wondrous natural scenes like the Grand Canyon, but never understood until now.

    In addition to teaching the science, Haidt also outlines possible approaches you might take to be more happy such as how to structure your day and to be more aware of your successes and to celebrate them. He looks at wealth, disability, sex, children, love and more to show how they influence (or not) one's happiness.

    21 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janaina TampereFinland 05-22-10
    Janaina TampereFinland 05-22-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very good book, very good narrator"

    The author has great insights on how the mind works and how did we get this far.. And the evolutionary traits that are still with us from the past, and how that influences our behavior today. Even though it helps understanding ourselves a lot, I would not call it self help, but something beyond that. Really happy about listening rather than reading too, since the narrator is great and gets you completely immersed in the narrative. In summary, way better than I expected - so much that I took the time to write this review. :)

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Phoenix, AZ, United States 10-29-10
    Cheryl Phoenix, AZ, United States 10-29-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Jonathan Haidt is a genius"

    I usually choose to listen to novels but I am so glad that I loaded this one up! I bought the book first but was having trouble finding time to read it (and, quite frankly, novels kept getting in the way) so I decided to try out the audio version. George Wilson brought this text to life and helped me see the genius of Jonathan Haidt. Understanding human relationships is a passion for me and this book has brought new insights to my search for wisdom. Highly recommended!!!

    16 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 11-17-12
    Douglas Auburn, WA, United States 11-17-12 Member Since 2008

    College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Very Good Book..."

    with a very interesting turn on Darwinian psychology/sociology. Haidt does a deft and often humorous job of translating current neo-Darwinian science of the mind into lay terms (though he is not as deft or humorous as Steven Pinker--whose books are better), and his metaphors for how the mind works and for how the mind works in a complex society are well crafted. I did have a couple of reservations: the first is his breezy treatment of drugs like Prozac and Paxil as treatment for "everyday" anxiety and depression (that is, problems not bad enough to be labelled "disorder" in correlation with the DSM-IV description)--despite a vast amount of evidence regarding what sometimes amount to devastating side effects, especially in children and young adults, and the incredible over-medication of our society at large, Haidt encourages use of such drugs for NOS anxiety and depression without reservation. Also, if you have read Pinker, Wright, Dawkins, Dennett, or many of the other current Darwinian psychologists, you are going to have encountered A LOT of this stuff before. When explaining Darwinian psychology and sociology, Haidt doesn't bring a lot of new stuff to the table--unless this is the first book on the topic that you have read. The same old examples, ants, bats, etc... But these are relatively minor complaints... the application of the Darwinian style of seeing the human mind in regard to happiness and the use of ancient wisdom to back up his points make this book well worth reading.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bogdan COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada 04-08-10
    Bogdan COCHRANE, Alberta, Canada 04-08-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An excellent synthesis of science and religion"

    I have spent now more than 5 researching the field. Dr. Haidt has done an excellent job in integrating science, philosophy and religion in one common framework. Although a scientist, his teaching style is gentle and based on stories, making the absorption of knowledge smooth and efficient.

    21 of 23 people found this review helpful
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  • Phillistein
    Margate, Kent United Kingdom
    2/22/08
    Overall
    "Different, leads you to new understandings"

    I loved this audiobook. Though it is long, it is never boring and I found myself hanging on for the next passage. This marries neuroscience, psychology and spiritual teachings from many sources. It is full of Eureka moments where I learned the how and why and the processes whereby we make decisions and judgments. I particularly liked the discussion of unconscious decision making. Very highly recommended

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Adrian
    JohannesburgSouth Africa
    2/19/09
    Overall
    "Life-changing"

    A wonderful insight into what it is to be human. The best guide on how to achieve happiness that I have ever read, and it really breaks new ground in that it is based on good science. This is not pop-psych motivational book, it provides the reader with an understanding of how the brain works, and how to apply this knowledge to the pursuit of happiness. Be warned - this book will challenge your current beliefs especially your confidence that you see the naked truth about anything...

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Ralph
    Bexleyheath, United Kingdom
    5/31/11
    Overall
    "This book unravels a world of blah on the subject"

    Understanding what makes people happy - and has led me on to a new programme of personal change

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Dan
    LeedaUnited Kingdom
    11/27/10
    Overall
    "An Excellent Book"

    Well worth the money. An excellent insight into what it is to be happy and the human condition.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Jim
    Twickenham, United Kingdom
    11/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Astonshingly Good"

    Brings together a mountain of work on positive psychology, happiness, behavioural economics and evolutionary psychology as well as Haidts work on morals and a range of religious traditions to offer a practical and readable account of what a good life might look like, why we find it so hard to make ourselves "better" and what we can do about it. If you're a fan of the likes of Shawn Achor, Daniel Kahneman, Martin Selligman and Brene Brown this is a must.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Crispin
    Tufnell Park, United Kingdom
    4/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not too religious"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    An interesting and fairly comprehensive look various theories and philosophies that have been adopted throughout history in the context of the latest thinking.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Happiness Hypothesis?

    The chapter on work


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    It doesn't really have scenes. It is more like a series of lectures on how to lead a good or fulfilling life.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Nope, it requires a bit of concentration, but that is because the concepts being discussed make you think. The writing and presentation is very clear.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Si
    UK
    10/12/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bad Title"

    The title suggests this is will be a floaty coagulation of self-help cosmic consciousness hippy claptrap that uses the word 'quantum' all the time and tells you that anything is possible if only you ask the universe nicely. Rest assured, that is not this book. The writing is clear and informative and the commentary is incisive, well presented and succinctly phrased. Perhaps it falls a little short of being an 'important' book but it is certainly worth the read and even connoisseurs of the human condition will discover new avenues of thought that cast the subject of 'happiness' in a novel light. Recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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