Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom” as Want to Read:
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,816 Ratings  ·  715 Reviews
An award-winning psychologist examines the world's philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science.
ebook, 321 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Not Avail (first published December 26th 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 09, 2008 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: cognition
When pitching Jonathan Haidt's "Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom" to friends, I often find myself explaining away the title -- no, it's not another self-help book and yes, it's about more than just plastering a silly smile on your face. With that said, the title is appropriate; Haidt is chiefly concerned with what's responsible for making humans happy.

The title fails, however, to convey the breadth and depth of Haidt's search, which touches on philosophy, psychology,
Mar 03, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: Cognitive Science Reading & Discussion Group
As I was reading the first few chapters, I put this book on my “to buy” list, but my enthusiasm ebbed as I finished the book, and my natural inclination not to buy books I never expect to re-read has taken over.

But it’s still a book I think I can recommend: it has plenty of interesting and thoughtful points to make, a few that are confusing and disconcerting, as well as some advice towards the front of the book.

The early chapters have a bit of a “self-help” feel that dissipates further into the
Aug 12, 2009 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all there is a tone to this book that I thought from the beginning was really going to be a problem for me. I guess that is the tone of self-help books. All the same, this book was much more interesting and much more challenging (at least, to me) than most other self-help books I’ve read. I actually found parts of this book quite confronting.

The parts of this book that I liked the most were those where he was discussing his elephant and rider metaphor. Essentially, he believes that we a
Kate Savage
Feb 08, 2014 Kate Savage rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could probably give this book two stars if I hadn't just got my fill of evo-psy smarm from Steven Pinker. Haidt's got the same penchant to 1) explain away the cultural status quo as a natural consequence of biological human nature; 2) present all of his ideas as scientific consensus, when there are very few non-controversial conclusions in positive psychology (it's fine for him to stick with his theory, but his disinterest in bringing up these disagreements leaves me very distrustful of him); ...more
Orton Family Foundation
I’ve often marveled at how seemingly rational people can forgo reason when engaged in public debate over a land use issue. A few years back I was involved in a community meeting about a new village scale project being proposed for the center of a small Vermont town. Even faced with a plethora of facts, figures and testimonials to the contrary, many people held fast to their belief that the project—designed to mimic the design and spacing of the clustered houses already in the village center—woul ...more
Michael Johnston
Jul 27, 2011 Michael Johnston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished reading this last night. Two things first - 1) the book is not really about ancient wisdom. It's primarily about current research/thinking in the field of Psychology on emotional happiness. 2) The first third of the book is among the most depressing things I have ever read. The book starts by focusing on the view that humans have virtually no control over our own ability to be happy (or miserable). It's genetic - we are born with an innate predisposition towards personal happiness or mi ...more
Nyamka Ganni
If you are in passionate love and want to celebrate your passion, read poetry. If your ardor has calmed and you want to understand your evolving relationship, read psychology. But if you have just ended a relationship and would like to believe you are better off without love, read philosophy. and if you are unsure about what category falls for you, just read this book! :D
Jan 21, 2013 Karson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The short conclusion at the end of this book was really good. I wish the rest of the book stuck to the author's concise summary a little bit better. In some of Haidt's best advice within the whole book he says, "Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and a connection to something larger." He adds, "You have to get the conditions right, and then wait." There are a lot of other good insights in the book, but I find them to be burried in piles of other not ...more
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)
“Do people have a tendency to dump on you?
Does your group have more cavities than theirs?
Do all the hippies seem to get the jump on you?
Do you sleep alone when others sleep in pairs?
Well there’s no need to complain
We’ll eliminate your pain
We can neutralize your brain
You’ll feel just fine
Buy a big bright green pleasure machine!

Do figures of authority just shoot you down?
Is life within the business world a drag?
Did your boss just mention that you’d better shop around
To find yourself a more pro
Nithya Nagarathinam

This book starts off as great. It neatly draws from the ancient philosophy and extrapolates the relevance of ancient wisdom to modern life. For example, the elephant-rider analogy, for which it gets one star. But somewhere in the middle, it loses itself in theological arguments. The scope of the book is so broad that the title becomes misleading.

The book gets another star for the valuable insights into human psychology, morality and life in general that lie interspersed in between elaborate dig
I've been slogging away at this book for nearly a month, which is unusual for me. Usually, if I stall on a book (as I did with three other books I started reading over the month of February), I simply put it down with a note that it's been partially read. But The Happiness Hypothesis was so compelling that I kept coming back after putting it down and letting my mind digest the material. It's a book that's designed to be read slowly.

I discovered this book through Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath, wh
Jan Rice
Jul 03, 2012 Jan Rice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
If I hadn't read Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, first, I may not have been able to get into The Happiness Hypothesis. Although they mine some of the same territory, The Happiness Hypothesis is an ordinary book. Kahneman's book, on the other hand, is a land mine. I think he wrote it using the knowledge that was his subject matter, giving it its penetrating power. Haidt, on the other hand, comes across as attempting to "convert" the reader, which can set up some resistance. Also, while ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2013 Payam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. I truly do! It is a combination of the three subjects I think about most: psychology, philosophy, and religion.

In the Happiness Hypothesis the (humble) author brings together theories of the past, the theories of religion, and updates them with understandings from psychology. In many ways, he either adjusts traditional thinking with science or he validates traditional thinking with science. It is an excellent approach that must have taken the author a long time to put together
Sep 05, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don’t be put off by the title! It sounds wishy-washy, but it’s not. Haidt’s claims are specific and empirical, and are backed-up with citations to published studies.

The Happiness Hypothesis serves two functions: (1) it’s a psychology professor’s introduction to his chosen subfield (“positive psychology”), which aims to help people “find happiness and meaning” (Kindle Loc. 132); and (2) it explores the continued applicability of (mostly ancient and/or religious) philosophical and moral ideas, in
Dec 04, 2007 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: evelyn, anna
Claire thinks this is the best book I have put her way in recent years and now has about six of her friends reading it. I seem to get good feedback from others I have suggested it to. Basically Jon Haidt (who I have had email correspondance with about the link between his work and mine) looks at what thinkers over the last 3000 years have said about what makes us happy and then applied modern neuro-science and the emerging study of positive psychology to see what light it throws on ancient wisdo ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Zedsdead rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zedsdead by: Rip & Chrys
Non-fiction is not my usual milieu, but this was a gift from a family member so here I am.

The author explores the nature of happiness, its properties and sources, with the end-goal of teaching the reader HOW to be happy. He searches for commonalities across ancient writings (Buddha, Confucius, the Bible, Torah, Aristotle, etc) to support his ideas, though in truth these felt superfluous to me. Haidt mostly relies on psychology and philosophy to back his assertions.

The Happiness Hypothesis's big
Dec 08, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
This book, given to me by my daughter Julie on my 61st birthday, is excellent. I learned a lot about myself, but more about society in general. I think that all leaders, managers, marketing professionals and, most important of all, people interested in understanding themselves and society should read this book.

I love the elephant - rider metaphor and I am constantly reminding myself to "be the rider" and to be aware of "the elephant" when I am making decisions.

It took me a long time to read the
Mario Tomic
Aug 03, 2014 Mario Tomic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 star, pure wisdom! This book gave me great insights on how our mind works. It's a great combination of scientific research, philosophy and psychology of today diving deep to figure out what really makes us happy. I highly recommended reading this book, if someone would say that I had only 3 books to pick for them this would be one of them. If you're wondering about the reasons for our seemingly never-ending pursuit of happiness and meaning "The Happiness Hypothesis" will give you very solid an ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Yazeed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No review would do this book justice. This is simply one of the most enlightening and thought-provoking books I've read in a very long while. Worth every hour spent reading and thinking. That's all I can say.
Subjective rating alert*: This is a lovely book that repeated information from all of the other lovely books I've read on the psychology of happiness.

*as if there's some other form lololololol
Yin Pang
Jan 26, 2015 Yin Pang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I start reviewing this book I want to mention that I started reading it back in August or something. My concentration was super challenged from the beginning because of outside sources, so there's a lot from this book I can't specifically recall. It's not because it's a boring book at all! It's actually a super interesting and mind opening one and the writing isn't too heavy for a non-fiction book.

I really love Haidt's outlook on how to achieve happiness and deal with the stress of an ex
Ben Lavender
Nov 28, 2014 Ben Lavender rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's definitely a self-help book, but the suggestions are all largely backed by science instead of feel-good bullshit. Nice.

A good example is the usual trope about "money doesn't buy happiness", tried and true territory for self-help books/articles/blog posts. Rather than just say it, he points to studies, then, crucially, *points to exceptions*: you'll be happier with enough money to reduce your commute or live somewhere with less noise. He also discusses how meditation for 30 minutes a day for
What is happiness? What makes a person happy?

This is a medium-weight book that remains balanced by combining religious and philosophical ideas with the neuroscience and biology of the captain of all our lives - the brain. (See Swab's We our are Brain.

The chapters tackle different viewpoints and provides viewpoints on what makes an individual and collection of individuals happy - or happier.

The author likens the brain as consisting of two parts, a driver and an elephant, which is depicted on the
Pittayut Panswasdi
May 08, 2014 Pittayut Panswasdi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
- ชือหนังสือพาลใหนึกถึง self-help สามญทัวไป ไมใชครับ เขาใจตรงกันนะ
- แตเรามองวามันเปนหนังสือในอุดมคติของนักจิตวิทยาสมัยใหมทีจะพยายามทำความเขาใจ "จิตใจ" ของมนุษยเราผานสามแงมุม คือทางดานชีววิทยา (พวกฟังกชันตางๆของรางกาย สมอง ฮอรโมน พันธุกรรมรวมไปถึงทฤษฏีวิวัฒนาการ), ทางดานสังคมวัฒนธรรมรวมไปถึงมิติทางดานจิตวิทยาทีศึกษากลไกตางๆของจิตใจมนุษยซึงลุง Haidth ผํูเขียนเอง มีฐานทางดานปรัชญา จิตวิทยาเชิงบวก และจิตวิทยาวัฒนธรรมมากอน จึงเปนทีมาของการนำทฤษฏี สมมติฐาน หรือ myth เกียวกับความสุขตางๆมาตรวจสอบโดยแงมุ
Fabulous insights into the causes and parts of happiness. I read it because I'm trying to figure out why I'm so happy. The author's contention, based on a whole lot of reach into positive psychology, sums up to three parts: happiness is composed of 1. a biological happiness "set point," 2. environmental factors, and 3. practices that lead to happiness.

The biological set point isn't something you can do much about. It's kind of the fundamental level of happiness that you return to after brief sti
May 10, 2013 Khuyen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Random notes before I have time to write a proper review.

Feeling of elevation aptly captured by Thomas Jefferson in defending fiction (and explaining so enthusiastically why he recommends books): they provide an experience in which we can depart from our profane self to something greater, and we yearn to be like that! And if that's a common theme in lots of adolescents then perhaps it's a stage in our bio development.

Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
And thus we move, logically, to The Happiness Hypothesis. Ben Tanaka, main character of Shortcomings, could use The Happiness Hypothesis. Ginger Pye and the rest of the Pye family apparently intuitively knew The Happiness Hypothesis.
Haidt looks at ancient wisdom and compares it to the result of the new science of positive psychology. Some of the things I learned from this book:

*Reciprocity is the best guide to life. This is the classic “Do unto others” thought.

*There are three effective ways t
Feb 10, 2012 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Happiness Hypothesis is a synthesis of information from positive psychology, social psychology, philosophy, biology and religion to explore what is most likely to make individuals lead satisfying, happy lives. Although the author makes it clear that he is an atheist, he should be given credit for his recognition of the strengths offered to individuals and communities by religion and his respectful treatment of the subject of religion.

This could have been a very dry book. The author consiste
Lena Tumasyan
May 11, 2013 Lena Tumasyan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book for a book club. I read it in hardcover, from the library. I liked this book, but it did take a while to read. It was more scientific then I thought it would be.

It was actually very interesting bc of the research and studies that were used, and that is one of the things I appreciated the most. That the information wasn't just opinion, it was BACKED-UP by science. I also liked that the author himself performed some of the studies in the book. It shows that he really cares a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
FULL Creative Lib...: The Happiness Hypothesis 1 12 Mar 05, 2014 01:44PM  
  • Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow
  • Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
  • Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
  • Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile
  • Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill
  • The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life
  • The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want
  • Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification
  • Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth
  • Practical Wisdom: The Right Way To Do the Right Thing
  • Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive
  • The Ego Trick: In Search Of The Self
  • Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor
  • Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life
  • The Self Illusion: Why There is No 'You' Inside Your Head [Extract]
  • Happiness: A History
  • Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious
  • Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life
Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business. He is the author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. He lives in New York City.
More about Jonathan Haidt...

Share This Book

“If you are in passionate love and want to celebrate your passion, read poetry. If your ardor has calmed and you want to understand your evolving relationship, read psychology. But if you have just ended a relationship and would like to believe you are better off without love, read philosophy.” 28 likes
“Happiness is not something that you can find, acquire, or achieve directly. You have to get the conditions right and then wait. Some of those conditions are within you, such as coherence among the parts and levels of your personality. Other conditions require relationships to things beyond you: Just as plants need sun, water, and good soil to thrive, people need love, work, and a connection to something larger. It is worth striving to get the right relationships between yourself and others, between yourself and your work, and between yourself and something larger than yourself. If you get these relationships right, a sense of purpose and meaning will emerge.” 23 likes
More quotes…