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Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  6,385 ratings  ·  563 reviews
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?

Across the millennia, philosophers have thought long and hard about happiness, and come up with all sorts of different definitions and ideas for how we might live a happier life. Here, Derren explores the history of
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 22nd 2016 by Bantam Press
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  6,385 ratings  ·  563 reviews

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Richard Estep
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not to mince words, I believe that Derren’s latest book will be truly life-changing for the right type of reader. It is that rarest of books: one that I felt had been written for me personally. There’s very little about magic or illusion in here. This is essentially a 400+ page discourse on the ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism, and how one might usefully and practically apply it to their own life in order to help bring about that most elusive of goals: Happiness.

Stoicism wasn’t anything new
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(No spoilers included here) It is so frustrating knowing that people will choose not to read this book because they don't like Derren Brown, or that many fans of Derren are picking this up, getting 100 pages in and giving up because it's 'too intellectual.'

A fantastic book of essays drawing on ancient philosophy, psychological methods, and general observation, exploring genuine ways to think differently. Not dressing itself up as a self-help book is entirely correct but misleading, because it r
Nov 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf

If life is about the stories we build, then one of my most cohesive narratives is reading. It’s fair to say most everyone spends their entire life reading, so I suppose I am no exception, but even so, I like to count it as a hobby, rather than a necessity of life. And part of that story is that I never give up on a book, no matter how poorly-written, boring or just plain baffling.

I gave up on Happy.

It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Because knowing Derren Brown there’s probably a twist
K.J. Charles
I am not into self help books but that's alright because nor is Derren Brown. I picked this up on the grounds that you won't get a better guide to knowing how human minds tick / can be manipulated, and found it actually strikingly useful, especially in the middle section focusing on Stoicism. There are a lot of very good quotes, a lot of really easy memorable nuggets of useful thought; I highlighted a huge amount.

I would say that despite the best efforts of both the Stoics and Brown it comes ac
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020read, 1nonfiction
I highly recommend this book if you currently find yourself addicted to self-help or new age spiritituality, and neither seems to get you anywhere as this is such a thought-provoking book. I think that exposing ourselves to the opposite viewpoint can be very enlightening in general.

Firstly, I love the fact that the author is never implying that he has the absolute truth because these are people I simply do not want to read nor listen to in the future - and a lot of these people can be found in t
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
My love for Derren Brown’s work as a philosopher magician made me eager to pick up his book on happiness, which draws much from the Stoics view of life. I’ve recently found that Stoicism resonates a lot with me, and I was eager to see how Derren Brown uses their wisdom, his own experience, and other schools of thought to talk about finding happiness in the every day.

Even though I feel like most of the ideologies in this book were familiar to me, Derren’s way of delving into each thought methodic
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Yep, there is no secret formula, no only recipe for all best things.
Other stories, like the one we sense the girl at the stage door is learning from her mother, become deeply ingrained and in many ways define who we are. We tell ourselves tales about the future: ‘Oh, I’m an awkward misfit who looks terrible and always will.’ Or, ‘I’ll never have a fulfilling relationship.’ Other stories are about the past: ‘I’m like this because my parents treated me in a particular way.’ Or, ‘I’m an unlucky p
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've noticed some reviews beginning with the phrase "No spoilers." It's a self-help book, folks. I can't help but envision a SNL-style skit where a young man goes to church for the first time, hears the priest say "Jesus died for your sins" -- and then storms out shouting, "Thanks for RUINING it for me!" ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, not-my-thing
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I couldn't finish this, it's just not my thing....
Thought this might stop me from being such a grumpy arse but it seems I shall remain one for the time being.
Aimee Went
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The only thing to say about this book is that it is life-changing. If you're scared, worries, depressed, or are simply unsatisfied with where your life is in the here and now in whatever capacity, you should at the very least give this book a go.

Not only is Derren's writing style an absolute joy to read in the same vein of entertainment and intelligence that his shows continuously bring, but this book is highly educational and thought-provoking. I've always been a fan of the Stoics and have trie
Abbie ‘britishbookreader’
I have dog-eared, underlined, and made notes on every page of this book. It’s amazing and has genuinely changed my mindset.
It’s also so refreshing to connect so with an author who understands what it means to be an introvert,
who answers every question I have, and who sums up abstract concepts in concise sentences and breaks down happiness into achievable steps.

Highly, highly recommend.
May 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I find this book really hard to rate, might be more like 2.5 for me. It's not what I usually read so I'm probably not the target audience and I'd never heard of Derren Brown before. The reason I picked it up was because I wanted a pick-me-up after reading "Cat's Eye" (Atwood), typed "happy" into the search bar and voila... "Happy"

Now the first part of this book is kind of a quick introduction to western philosophical concepts of happiness, this is an important part if the reader is unfamiliar wi
Gary Knapton
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a joy from start to finish. A real road trip through the pinnacle of philosophy. Deep and wide. Interspersed with personal logs, helpful analogies and rooted in Stoic theory but arcing high and wide like a who's who of considered living. From Seneca to Kafka. From Stephen Gross to Marcus Aurelius. And all the gods in heaven.

Better still, Derren puts a strong case for not getting hung up on conflicting logic but rather enjoying a pick n mix approach in our bid to arrive at an under
Juliana Graham
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This was quite hard going but interesting. Derren Brown looks primarily at Stoicism and how it can be applied to every day, modern life. However, the lessons on not focussing on material goods or career trajectories and so on were of no help to me at all as I'm very confident that I don't do that anyway. It was hard to come away with much that I could apply to my own life - it's all well and good saying that it's not external events that make you feel sad or happy but your interpretation of thos ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I like Derren Brown a lot - I've seen a few of his stage shows and watched most of his TV programmes and he seems a genuinely lovely guy - but I did struggle with this book.

There's some good advice, suggestions and viewpoints in this book but, in my opinion, there's just far too much discussion and, on occasion, guff inbetween which makes it hard to get from one interesting nugget to another. Cut out a lot of this and the book would be much more readable and about half the length!

Perhaps my bigg
An interesting read coming from an author who believes that the modern day "positive" attitude which is being forced down people's throats is more, rather than less, bullshit. I do agree, and have been happily hating on the self-help industry for years. Coming from the perspective of someone who has had her fair share of diabetes-inducing positive thinking thrown to her face as if it's the Lord's blessing, it was refreshing to read a book where such ideas were rejected. When I say rejected, don' ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting sections but far too long and repetitive for me.
Sean Goh
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sweeping in its scope, unexpected in its provenance. The last few chapters on death are a bit drier, but the book ends well. Hopefully like our lives. But that's up to the story you write for yourself.
You don’t make decisions based on your experiences.
You make them based on the stories of your experiences.
You should be more concerned with this remembering self.
Pampering the experiencing self is not enough; you want memories too.
Your bestial experiencing self has an attention span of about th
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I like Derren Brown, bought this book on a whim, and was unsure what to expect.

Be reassured this is no celebrity memoir, indeed I was delighted to discover that Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine is actually a very intelligent and perceptive book which draws upon Derren’s personal history, psychology, and philosophy to create a helpful guide to happiness, or perhaps more accurately how to lead a good and considered life which will provide moments of happiness and satisfaction.
May 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
As a performer and a magician, Derren is unparalleled. Sadly, when it comes to writing actual books, his skills don't shine through in quite the same way. Happy, for all its careful research, is indisputably pop philosophy/ pop psychology. Thus, it should be written in a tone that communicates personality, that makes the author shine through the research. Pop academia is very much reliant on the best communication of the material. Derren does not manage to communicate the material well, with his ...more
Kitty Luck
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Although I am a huge fan of Derren, this book was slightly underwhelming. I really liked the underlying philosophical concepts referred to throughout the book, but if stoicism isn’t something you’re interesting in then this book is a definite no. It definitely isn’t a self-help book nor did I find a lot of the chapters could be applied to everyday life, particularly the chapter on fame. However, I did read the whole book and personally thought that the chapters on death were interesting and perh ...more
Moh. Nasiri
Happy takes a look at the ancient world’s most zen philosophers – the Stoics – and asks what classical thinkers like Epicurus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius can teach us about happiness.
خوشبختی به سبک خویشتن داری رواقیون

Stoicism teaches:
1) It is not external events that make you feel bad or good but instead your interpretation of the event.
2) There are only two things you can control: your own thoughts, and your own actions.

Our anxiety common form is a hyper-active search for deeper meaning in thin
Alex Leggatt
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Overall Verdict:
This book is a humorous, thought-provoking, well-researched book that has given me key tips to reframing my experience and achieving a more serene and tranquil state of mind. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in living and dying well.

Overview of Book:
In this book, illusionist and magician Derren Brown draws on ancient philosophy and modern psychology as an antidote to the abundance of self-help books, which all too often draw on pseudoscience and mere “p
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*** UPDATE 05/02/20 - I’ve just finished this book for the second time. I’ve changed my mind. This is not one of the best and most important books I’ve ever read. It is the best and most important book. And I expect it is a book I will read at least once every year for the rest of my life. Particularly wonderful on the audio version read by Derren himself which gives it more colour and emotional vibrancy. It is a wonderful tour of what it is to have purpose, to have meaning, and to be human and ...more
Marjorie Jones
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Oh dear. I really like Derren Brown, as a brilliant performer, a superb mentalist, a level-headed, articulate debunker of mumbo-jumbo and fraudsters, an all-round good egg, and up until now, as a writer too.

But this book really does him no justice. The idea is great, the philosophical background is carefully researched and thoroughly presented, and the message is powerful and worth hearing.

But the writing style is rambling, repetitive, and, in many places frankly tedious for the medium of the
This book is quite magnificent. If I was a much richer person I would buy it for everyone. Derren Brown has a great way with words and an understanding of psychology that up until now has fortunately only been used for good and never anything truly Evil. (Except for maybe The Experiments; still recovering from the game show).

This book is in a few sections including: a history of happiness, and the pursuit thereof, from the perspective of various philosophies, most notably The Stoic's, then a two
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first 200 pages or so of this book are fascinating. It is so interesting to question where this obsession with being happy comes from and why it is such a novel part of our society. It is a useful thought experiment to think about how people lived when they were less focussed on being happy and their aim in life was something completely different. It got me thinking about how my own life would be if I wasn’t so driven to have it eternally smelling of roses. Would I be more accepting and tole ...more
Bruce Hatton
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Not my usual sort of read, but I heard the author talking about it on a radio programme recently which piqued my interest.
The book is intended as an antidote to the fraudulent claims of religions and - the secular equivalent - self-help "gurus" and their "positive thinking". These only help foster an unrealistic, solipsistic viewpoint which leads to an endless cycle of disappointment, guilt and self-recrimination when things don't turn out as promised - which is invariably always. Derren contras
Chris Porter
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
As a fan of Derren Brown, a fan of self-development books and a student (in it's various forms) of happiness in 2016 - this was a great book to end the year, and my GoodReads reading challenge on.

A majority of the book focuses on Stoic ideas. My biggest takeaway was his simple "sum-up" of Stoic belief (which I've struggled to define to others in the past).

Stoicism teaches:

1) It is not external events that make you feel bad/good/x/y/z but instead your interpretation of the event.

2) There are only
Wise Fool
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
HAPPY.... what a great book! It put a lot of self help books into check! I've seen people follow some of these books and its a "fake it till you make it," years later they have broken down because they have not dealt with deeper issues. But this one is something special, it's more of an analytical look at being happy. It's notions i have been telling people for years and now there's a book I can give them! LOL
The concepts found in this book are ones I found through the Tao, Sikhism and Buddhism,
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Derren Brown is an English mentalist, illusionist, and author. He has produced several shows the stage and television and is the winner of two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment. He has also written books for magicians as well as the general public.

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