Happy

Why More or Less Everything Is Absolutely Fine
Narrated by: Derren Brown
Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (365 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The audiobook edition of Happy, read by Derren Brown.

Everyone says they want to be happy. But that's much more easily said than done. What does being happy actually mean? And how do you even know when you feel it?

In Happy Derren Brown explores changing concepts of happiness - from the surprisingly modern wisdom of the Stoics and Epicureans in classical times right up until today, when the self-help industry has attempted to claim happiness as its own. He shows how many of self-help’s suggested routes to happiness and success – such as positive thinking, self-belief and setting goals – can be disastrous to follow and, indeed, actually cause anxiety.

Happy aims to reclaim happiness and to enable us to appreciate the good things in life, in all their transient glory. By taking control of the stories we tell ourselves, by remembering that ‘everything’s fine’ even when it might not feel that way, we can allow ourselves to flourish and to live more happily.

©2016 Derren Brown (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love." (Alain de Botton) 

"Crammed with wisdom and insight.... I'm going to recommend it to everyone I know." (Stephen Fry)

"Witty, useful and beautifully written." (The Sunday Times)

What members say
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Stoicism for the ages!

If you want to know how to live life and live it well then this is the book! Derren Brown explains how Stoicism can be applied to help oneself live in the present moment & to let go of what cannot be controlled. It’s like cognitive behavioral therapy delivered in a methodical, approachable, & reality centered way. It left me feeling well...quite happy.

3 people found this helpful

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A witty and thoughtful take on stoicism

This is a breath of fresh air in a genre cluttered with empty platitudes and wishful thinking. One would expect no less from the renowned debunker of charlatans, but even Derren manages to leave the listener pleasantly surprised.

Derren wades slowly but surely into the murky waters of life's biggest questions. Why are we here? What should we do with our short time on earth? What would we like to do with our lives?

This book will make you think hard and probably leave you with more questions than answers, but it will definitely point you in the right direction and leave you better than it found you.

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Excellent primer on living a considered life.

The book isn't a stoic book exactly. It's philosophical, and the philosophy that he leans on most is certainly Stoicism.

The book is partly a much needed corrective the mawkish and naive pablum that fills the self help bookshelves and, unfortunately, people's desperate minds.

This book is a serious, realistic look at what can really be done to live a better, more fulfilled and happy life. This is a book about what matters, really, and how to focus on that.

If you're new to Stoicism this is an excellent place to start. It's modern, engaging and relavant. If you are long down the road of Stoicism much of this book will be retread, and that's okay.

But, there is a lot of this book that isn't Stoicism. He draws from many sources, referencing all sorts of sciences, philosophy and schools of thought. It's worth a read for that alone.

And, Darren reads it. He's an excellent narrator and you get the benefit of the passion and inflection that only the author could convey, with no downsides. He could no doubt be a narrator if he cared to. He's fully professional.

This book is underrepresented by the quantity of reviews and accurately represented by the quality of them. It's excellent. I'll be recommending it to many people for the foreseeable future.

3 people found this helpful

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Must read/listen

The timing of this book couldn't be any better. In our modern world full of victim-hood and the cult of me, me, me we can all use the quiet, but firm, reality check Derren so eloquently delivers.

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tiresome

rehash of other ideas. very little value or aha moments. tough to finish. Hoped for much more as I appreciate Brown.

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A Great Journey Into How We Torture Ourselves

Derren Brown does an incredibly clear-minded job of methodically taking the listener through every alleyway of philosophy on the subject of happiness, and his conclusions. A must-read for malcontents like myself.

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Real talk

Derren is a great narrator and the book is pure gold - very genuine information.

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Self-help book not wanting to be a self-help book

While there are some interesting parts to this book, there are many times it rambled. Being aware that Interesting is subjective, I don’t think many would find a whole section on how to deal with people who come up and want your picture and autograph to be relatable. There were a bit too many references to how he’s famous or recognizable that are strewn throughout the book for my taste. He also does not want it to be self-help book (as stated repeatedly), but when you have conclusions about how best to live, it cannot help but be a self-help book.

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Very pleasantly surprised

If you’re the kind of person who has glanced at books about happiness and found them trite and shallow, then this book may help satisfy that which made you look in the first place. It gives no easy fixes, rather a foundation on which to build. It has become one of the favorites that I’ve listened to recently for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that Derren Brown has a wonderful, soothing voice and, unlike some authors, reads his work very well. I sometimes put it on and just let the words flow over me, so to speak. I can understand why he’s such a good mentalist. Second is the content, which is not just “do this and you’ll be happy.” It’s mostly an overview of various philosophies, both ancient and modern, and what they tell us about finding happiness and contentment in life. His favorites are the Stoics from ancient Greece and Rome. He’s not fond of modern “you can have it all” approaches to the subject. I must admit they have at times taken me in and I, too, have found them wanting. I realized that the Stoic philosophy parallels my own ideas on real happiness. The one drawback to the book is that at times he gets a bit repetitive and goes on too long about the pitfalls of fame and wealth, though that’s not to say it isn’t still interesting even at those times. Overall it’s a well-written and engaging work that I highly recommend.

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Intriguing perspective

Really appreciate the insights & pithy reminders shared. Having it read by the Author in his native British tongue adds a wonderful element. The ability to cultivate the understanding of what we control & what we don’t control, embracing death & realizing we are interpreting the events of our life will facilitate many along their path to flourish. Grateful for the opportunity to hear this message. Thank you, sir!

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  • (Andee4me:)
  • 12-01-18

Derren the intellect & sage....emerges!

As shared by many others this is a witty & entertaining book.
Derren peels back the layer on parts of his “manipulation“ model in psychology and equally importantly he dives deeper and thoughtfully into how the mind builds reality.....moment-to-moment.
His reflective qualities also shine brightly throughout and some of the commentary is certainly uncomfortable & provoking, as it should be.
In my view, if you rate the tremendously talented Mr Brown - then this is a must listen/read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-12-18

Happy

The liberation of reconnecting with my own story, as this book so delicately suggests, has provided me the means to begin to live a more full and considered life. The historical significance of where our modern day notion of happiness derived itself and how best to apply the interest of self and simply being leave me in a state of otherwise unknown bliss and tranquility. Certainly I may more than likely at some point return to a bad time and adopt my old erroneous ways of thinking but I feel now able to step away and examine situations and events with clarity accepting that simply not everything is within my control and that’s fine. Much like the difference between attempting to stop road traffic which would inevitably cause anxiety and stress, I am reminded that to merely sit back and observe things which otherwise are out of my control and embrace them for the way they are, rather than how I would like them to be, is an extremely beautiful and yet simple notion and one which I intend to embody in my day to day life. Amazing book and would recommend to anybody and everybody.

9 people found this helpful

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  • AC ROBINSON
  • 03-16-19

Death defying

It must be a truly great audio book to keep an old, self help book cynic entertained for fourteen and a half hours. I was lucky to have the former Chief Rabbi; now Lord Sachs, as my philosophy lecturer at Middlesex Poly but I'd have settled for the audacious Derren Brown. His enthusiasm for the Stoics considered lives as contrasted with our daily pap of positive thinking is great fun. The. last chapter makes clear that the Stoics didn't have all the answers to a fulfilled life and the current focus on mindfulness is beneficial but they'll do for me. As well as being superbly presented this book is well researched with direct quotes from philosophers, psychologists, authors, songwriters, celebrrities and, poignantly, from his fans. One of his fans dying of cancer, provides the most uplifting, happy way of facing death I,he ever read. This is a serious book on balancing our thoughts and actions against the slings and arrows, but there is humour too. The author's views on why being rich and famous is unlikely to be a recipe for happiness is worthy of a stand up comedy spot. He is refreshingly honest throughout and never patronising. I felt even luckier to have lived 66 fulfilling and fun years after listening to this and I learned so much that this is now the top self help book I will, happily, recommend:

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  • Andrew F Jones
  • 03-15-19

interesting. bit long winded

A great introduction to a few philosophical perspectives regarding Happiness. worth reading/Listening to. Derren at time quite humorous. but as stated a little drawn out at times, but we'll worth a listen/read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-12-19

rather a lot of focus on fame!

Enjoyed the book overall but felt Derren focused for a long time on things that may affect happiness levels in himself maybe? i.e fame and thoughts of death! Overall through enjoyed this book and took some good content from it and it has caused me to delve deeper into stoic thinking.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Another passing stranger
  • 03-02-20

Psychology meets Philosophy meets Derren

This will easily go down as one my favourite listens of the year (despite it having only really started).

Derren Brown makes philosophy digestible and relevant to the everyday. This book is a trove of intriguing ideas which help you to examine your own life and experiences.

It goes beyond 'how to be more happy' and becomes a book about life, death, relationships and everything in between.

I highly recommend this to anyone with a unexplored interest in psychology. It is a fascinating listen.

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  • StephMcM
  • 07-05-19

Astounding

Derren brings together 2000 year of wisdom and delivers it with brilliantly. Thoughtful and humane.

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  • ufred
  • 05-27-19

Excellent but hard going at times.

At times be a challenging book and you need to listen carefully. But highly recomend.

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  • C.Meadleton
  • 03-23-19

Better Derren reading it to me, than me reading it

I bought the hard copy of this book and as much as I love Derren I REALLY struggled reading it. The 'brief' history of happiness just seemed to go on and on and on when I was reading it myself. I was very happy when I noticed Derren had recorded for Audible and it's much better listening to him narrate his work as he intended it to be heard.

Whilst not much concrete advice is given I did enjoy the book and his trashing of Rhonda Byrne of "The Secret" fame and "just think of what you want and it happens" mantra.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-24-19

Brilliant book on philosophy and happiness

Derren Brown delightfully narrates his own interesting thoughts and musings on happiness: where it comes from, the way he attempts to achieve it and how it shouldn't always be the ultimate prize. He uses philosophy, psychological studies and anecdotes from his life to illustrate his points in a smart and sometimes humourous way. Some heavy philosophical elements may detract from the experience, but he attempts to explain these concepts in layman's terms and for the most part, I understood (though I do have a little, broad knowledge of philosophy myself).

Overall a brilliant book which I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and will happily do so again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-06-19

The best book I have ever come across

I really do mean it. There is not a single sentence in this book which I did not find insightful or meaningful. It is a book which provides tools that help to create a life which is ultimately more fulfilling and honest. It is a book I can see myself coming back to time after time and I was astounded to realise how often I was awestruck I was by this fantastic work. Please do yourself a favour and read this, then pass it on to those you love. You will not regret it.

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  • samuel upston
  • 11-24-18

Amazing

Best narration of a book I've ever read. He treats it more like a speech than a book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-11-19

brilliant

"Happy" is an utterly incredible book which will stay with you long after your finished listening

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  • droimar
  • 06-30-19

Think differently about life

A valuable collection of knowledge and advice. A useful perspectives on life. Interesting and well-narrated.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-26-19

Outstanding

What a great book....listened to several chapters two or three times over. Derren is a master wordsmith and his diction is superb and so very entertaining , highly recommended book for its insight.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-13-20

Very insightful and helpful

A well thought-out and articulated modern summary of timeless philosophies summarising stoicism. Principles laid out make sense to me and are steering me and my story to a happier place that makes sense. Derren is great to listen to and has put a lot of work and thought into this. Top 5 books of all time for me. Thanks Derren

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  • Robin
  • 02-03-20

Brilliant

A fantastic review of stoic and Buddhist philosophy and applied beautifully to an understanding of the meaning of life. I’m his newest and biggest fan.

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  • J. Bowey
  • 11-28-19

Well worth reading

Fascinating journey into how Derren thinks. Having enjoyed all of his shows and being a student of "beliefs" I found this interesting. I am sure many who were seeking a quick fix would give up, but I listened to every word and was deeply moved by the revelations from Derren about facing death. Whilst mortality is something we all face, I now have a more grounded view on happiness and our journey through life. I will certainly be editing my comments to people facing life threatening illnesses after learning what it's like to experience glib comments about positive thinking, which I entirely agree with. Anyway, enough to say, this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend, and it leaves you in a better shape to tackle "happiness" and the constant barrage of "just think positively" that we are faced with. I am a naturally positive and happy person, and yet I am unafraid to feel the full range of emotions and I enjoyed Derren's perspective.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-01-19

thank you

I loved this book. Rich in ideas, beautifully written. Narration excellent.
Absolutely worth it

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  • Ben Orson
  • 10-16-19

I just want to be Darren’s friend

His voice is so soothing and well spoken. It sounds like Darren had put in a lot of work into this book. Full of brilliant thoughts and references. Recommend this to everyone, nay, I would like to ask that everyone please listen or read this book.