Monthly Book Group's Reviews > The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
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Dec 24, 2010

really liked it

The proposer had found the book to be stimulating and thought-provoking. It was a cross-disciplinary amalgam of fable, literature, psychology, philosophy, literature, and genetics and own-life experience. Haidt’s approach was based on evidence rather than assertion. The style was very accessible and readable, and revealed enough personal information about the writer to humanise the book without making it irritating.

The proposer had been sufficiently impressed to read the book twice, and skim it for a third time. He had recommended it to both his daughters, who were in turn enthusing about it to their friends. It was thus a book that was creating interest across the generations.

The majority of the group shared his enthusiasm. This was so much more than the standard American self-help manual that some had feared. Haidt had a remarkable ability to make complex ideas and research accessible, and to encompass a vast range of learning in concise and elegantly written prose. The range and density of the subjects covered was such that many would want to read the book for a second time to get the full benefit from it. It was an understated book which – unlike, for example, “The Black Swan” - did not trumpet its own virtues.

While much of the book did indeed focus on issues of what made people happy and the possible meaning of life, the book was much broader than that. It provided a wide survey of much modern psychological research, and of many systems of philosophy. To pick up one of Haidt’s own themes, the journey through the book was more rewarding than the destination it reached. Thus the title of the book – no doubt proposed by the publisher - was rather misleading. The yellow Mr Happy smile cover had proved something of an embarrassment to those reading the book in a public place, but at least it reflected the appealing fact that the book did not take itself too seriously….


This is an extract from a review at http://monthlybookgroup.wordpress.com/. Our reviews are also to be found at http://monthlybookgroup.blogspot.com/



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