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Publisher's Summary

Jonathan Haidt skillfully combines two genres-philosophical wisdom and scientific research-delighting the listener with surprising insights. He explains, for example, why we have such difficulty controlling ourselves and sticking to our plans; why no achievement brings lasting happiness, yet a few changes in your life can have profound effects, and why even confirmed atheists experience spiritual elevation. 

In a stunning final chapter, Haidt addresses the grand question "How can I live a meaningful life?," offering an original answer that draws on the rich inspiration of both philosophy and science. 

"The Happiness Hypothesis is a wonderful and nuanced book that provides deep insight into the some of the most important questions in life - Why are we here? What kind of life should we lead? What paths lead to happiness? From the ancient philosophers to cutting edge scientists, Haidt weaves a tapestry of the best and the brightest. His highly original work on elevation and awe - two long-neglected emotions - adds a new weave to that tapestry. A truly inspiring book." (David M. Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating)

"In this beautifully written book, Jonathan Haidt shows us the deep connection that exists between cutting-edge psychological research and the wisdom of the ancients. It is inspiring to see how much modern psychology informs life's most central and persistent questions" (Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

"In our quest for happiness, we must find a balance between modern science and ancient wisdom, between East and West, and between "left brain" and "right brain". Haidt has struck that balance perfectly, and in doing so has given us the most brilliant and lucid analysis of virtue and well-being in the entire literature of positive psychology. For the reader who seeks to understand happiness, my advice is: Begin with Haidt." (Martin E.P. Seligman, Director, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness

"Haidt is a fine guide on this journey between past and present, discussing the current complexities of psychological theory with clarity and humor...Haidt's is an open-minded, robust look at philosophy, psychological fact and spiritual mystery, of scientific rationalism and the unknowable ephemeral - an honest inquiry that concludes that the best life is, perhaps, one lived in the balance of opposites." (Bookpage)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2006 Jonathan Haidt (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"An erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues." (Publishers Weekly)

"The Happiness Hypothesis...has more to say about the pleasures and perils, the truths, of being alive than any book I've read in a long time." (San Francisco Bay Guardian)

"[T]he psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows in his wonderfully smart and readable The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom [that] modern science and history have a lot to say to each other." (Darrin McMahon, The Washington Post)

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What listeners say about The Happiness Hypothesis

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Excellent Book; Highly Recommend

This book was a long read, BUT nearly every chapter was full of riveting examples and useful knowledge.

I’m going to reread this again in a few months; I enjoyed it that much!

39 people found this helpful

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Amazing book, terrible choice in voice.

The information is amazing and instantly applicable. The reader is extremely hard to understand without perfect concentration. I stopped listening and read the hard copy instead. I’m commenting on the issue with audio because this is how I normally consume books and would have appreciated knowing this.

76 people found this helpful

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a bit of a mishmash of ideas, but interesting

Overall pretty interesting notions and ideas. Bits on the structure of the brain and the activities that different brain components control was fascinating and may have merited its own book. However, aside from that the book became tedious. The author seemed to skip around ideas about what are the elements of happiness, what are the emotional states that constitute elation associated with religious activity, and where to find wisdom. Overall it was a probably a better listen than it would have been a read. On those activities associated with happiness, specifically strong relationships, fulfilling work, and religious belonging, it seems he didn't have a lot to add that hasn't been discussed in other books. Although an athiest, he does a somewhat spirited defense of those who are religious, arguing that our brains and society have evolved to put us in emotional states that we connect to religious experience. It came off as a bit condescending to religious people, but I'll give him credit on this, since any sort of defense of religiosity probably gets him looked at cross eyed by his academic peers. I had also read his more recent, "The Coddling of the American Mind", which discusses how youth, particularly college age youth, is so much less resilient and more willing to look a the the splinters in others rather than the logs in their own eyes. I was hoping that this book might touch on how the drop in religiosity among youth may have contributed to them less resilient. But alas, the author does not make this connection as I recall. Overall, an interesting book, if a bit sloppy in its organization and presentation. The narrator was also only okay and his presentation didn't seem to fit the material. I would give this a recommendation though, but caveat emptor.

106 people found this helpful

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Amazing & Beneficial - A Must Have!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book when I first purchased it, but considering the fact that I highly enjoyed another book that was co-authored by Haidt I decided to give this book a try and am so glad that I did! Not only was this an intriguing book that continuously gave rich information about the mind and how people’s view of the world matters, it also broke down complicated subjects in a way that allowed me to follow along easily and thus reap the benefits of this book’s message. I actually have already listened to it twice and will be going for a third round after finishing a few others.

This book is without a doubt one of my new favorites because of the life-changing advice I was able to absorb, not to mention the fact that it was a delight to get through because of the entertaining way such advice is presented to the reader/listener by the author.

62 people found this helpful

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The origins of "The Righteous Mind"

I first read Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" and so this book goes over much of what he goes into further detail in that book. Given this, I think this book is likely an easier beginning to the ideas more developed in "The Righteous Mind." Overall fascinating ideas, and it's exciting to see the current and ongoing development(s) between science and religion. This book is a taster of Haidt and other moral psychological insights, and then his later book is a home run, in a sense. After reading both this and his other book I no longer really viewed things in what I now perceive to be a weird 'religious' vs. 'secular' mindset. I now think of almost all human group activity in a wider range, so that any radical group behavior, secular or religious, takes on the term 'fundamentalist' or 'radical,' among other useful ways of viewing the problems and limits in any perspective (and specifically the very heated US political Republican vs. Democrat positions). I now find myself in a spot in which I am pretty moderate with a libertarian flare, without agreeing fully with a lot of various policy issues (more so thinking that living personally in a libertarian manner promotes more self-respect and choice, but understanding that many libertarian policies may in actuality just be bad... this gets into Haidt's great distinction between useful and often correct personal intuitions in interpersonal relations but that on the scale of policy trusting intuitions is often terrible and has bad results).

In short: read or listen to this book and Haidt's following book, "The Righteous Mind," and (hopefully) expand your mind and worldview a bit further beyond limited partisanship and tribalism.

72 people found this helpful

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I feel happier already

I really enjoyed the way this book chose a few main topics to focus on from ancient ideas, then brought forth evidence for or against these ideas from scientific literature. Haidt is truly brilliant and I could stop and think about every few sentences in his writing and get so much out of it. I’m sure I will keep listening to this one in the future.

40 people found this helpful

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Fertilizer for the mind

This is a great thought provoking book. It had me questioning my purchase on more than one occasion only to bring me right back to understanding a few lines later.

19 people found this helpful

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Awesome book, poor performance

Incredibly well-researched book, compelling arguments, perhaps at times a little bit too self-assured but definitely very valuable for our times and extremely common-sensical. Would have enjoyed much much much more had the performance caught any of the humor and irony obvious in the tone of the writer and sadly completely absent in this monotonous reading... so, a much better read than a “hear”, too bad. Still, I listened to the whole thing and am the better for having gained the knowledge in this book.

112 people found this helpful

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good book not great

great few chapters i love the binomial mind analogy of the rider and the elephant, then he seems to go deep with religion as it becomes the dominant focus of the last 4 chapters. I recommend it up to chapter 4 or 5 then skip to last 2 minutes of chapter 10 and the whole last chapter.

44 people found this helpful

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A message our divided culture needs

This is one of the most fair-minded and intellectually honest books I have read. The author does an excellent job of laying out his thesis without ever becoming dogmatic or didactic. The content is well researched and academically sound yet engaging and easy to read. Throughout the book, Jonathan Haidt hits the nail on the head again and again and again.

39 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 03-11-19

interesting listen

Good but not great. Main takeaway were meditate, be part of community, spend money the right way.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Will Kirby
  • 03-19-19

Great book, shame about the narration

Very odd that Haidt didn't narrate this himself. His performance is The Coddling is excellent, but this one is droning and somewhat monotonous. Its still listenable, but would benefit massively from a better performance. The book itself is superb - full of fascinating info and insights. Haidt is a brilliant thinker

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-22-20

This book is a treasure!

By far, the best book I've listened to so far this year. Incredibly insightful and inspiring. A must read!!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hunor Peter
  • 07-26-20

Just buy the book

I've listened to another book by this author and even the content of this book seems to be very interesting.
But the narrator completely kills it for me. I just can't seem to follow the book at all. The delivery is just completely off all the time, it's as if the narrator is just reading words a bit like Google without understanding their meaning. it's incredibly hard for me to get in the zone and follow the content.

I thought of returning it after 10 minutes and I now regret not doing so.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Phillip
  • 04-27-20

Super Brilliant!!!

Brilliantly written from start to finish, wonderfully narrated by Ryan Vincent Anderson, Jonathan Haidt thank you so much!!!

1 person found this helpful

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  • steve hough
  • 10-08-19

Amazing insight into the human brain.

Listnedt to this from start to finish In a day as I just couldn't stop what a captivating book. Bravo x

1 person found this helpful

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  • Big Brown
  • 05-30-19

Really good book, but lacks good delivery

This one delvles into the mind and how our thinking shapes our lives. What we experience, situations, people and how we talk can have an overwhelming impact on us. The elephant and the rider is a very interesting analysis of how our mind can sometimes override our natural reactions and visversa.
Overal this book is a very good listen, but does lack the delivery of the narrator. It might be a better idea to get the book to read. There is not much feeling or expression put in, but if you can overcome that, it's an interesting listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Havabanana
  • 03-04-19

Great content if only delivery could match

Possibly one of the best books put there on happiness. exceptionally lucid and well informed. broad without lacking depth and above all, practical.

the delivery though sounded so monotone I thought at some point this was an experiment in using AI to read books. I am no naysayer and I think negative reviews are mostly pathetic but it actually affected the experience.

if ever you thought reading an audiobook is not a craft, try this book. if the content wasn't so life altering, I would not have endured it.

If you can read, get the print version or wait until there is another reader for this.

that said, I would experience it a thousandfold if it meant I could get access to the content. it is worth it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sam Tuke
  • 03-17-21

Wise

Full of actionable and evidence backed strategies for happiness. The narrator has received a lot of criticism - initially I also disliked his sleepy style. Quickly I came to appreciate it however - it is clear and consistent, and I had no trouble staying focused. It ultimately suits the subject matter well, and makes the, at times, information heavy content more comfortably digestible.

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  • MR J LESCIKS
  • 03-12-21

Awful narration

The only downside is narration. Listening to this narrator is like listening to a computer generated voice.

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  • Annalie
  • 11-28-18

Lost focus

The 1st part of this book was promising, but then the author diverted into morality, his field of expertise, and religious rituals, which lost my interest.
The narrator has a monotonous tone, and pronounce certain words incorrectly.

5 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 02-18-19

Incredible book – appallingly read

This reader clearly reads without having an understanding of the content in many components of this wonderful book. Consequently his monotone and lack of anything particularly expressive whatsoever requires/necessitates far more concentration Van is/should be necessary.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-11-19

Easily in the top 5 books I've ever read!

So important and valuable in modern life to understand and meditate on this hypothesis. Gave me a grounding and Understanding I so needed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-18

i wish i could rate this book 6 star

loved it, jonathan haidt is give some fantastic and well backed up points. the literature is easy to find and read around

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jocelyn Donaldson
  • 02-17-21

Interesting Concepts

It took a few chapters to get into it, but once it did I really found some of the content really interesting. Like other reviewers, I didn’t really enjoy the narration, I think it was too monotone for me. Overall I enjoyed this book.

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  • Ben Hurn
  • 02-13-21

It all finally makes so much sense

Connecting the dots! What an eye opener. Jonathan lays out compelling theories of why we are the way we are, backed by history and science which connects all the things you already knew, but didn't see the pattern. It gave me a deeper understanding of those who are different than me and a better appreciation of the forces which motivate them. Not only is this book great for self reflection and higher thought, but it explains a framework to understand the human condition and therefore how we can see past our differences to grow further into a mature and empathetic world.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-14-21

Ineffably profound and sufficiently humble

my hope for the world is that it reads this god damn book i tell you what

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  • Ken
  • 12-01-20

Wish I found this when it was released

It's just wonderful. PACKED Full of information that I gradually pieced together from reading many other books and studies this is a tremendously helpful resource for when you lose sight of the realities of the world, and what is within our power to change.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-18-20

Shame about the narrator

Great and interesting book, frustrating that the narration often detracted from the subject. Would have much preferred the author narrate.

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  • Damien Hayes
  • 10-15-20

Great book, tough voice to listen to

Dudes voice was a hard listen, but content was amazing. Definitely recommend listening though. was tip top