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Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  6,647 ratings  ·  453 reviews
Can You Learn to Be Happy?

YES . . . according to the teacher of Harvard University's most popular and life-changing course. One out of every five Harvard students has lined up to hear Tal Ben-Shahar's insightful and inspiring lectures on that ever-elusive state: HAPPINESS.

Grounded in the revolutionary "positive psychology" movement, Ben-Shahar ingeniously combines sci
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 31st 2007 by McGraw-Hill Education
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Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a professor at Harvard University who leads a positive psychology seminar, wrote Happier "to raise awareness of the general principles underlying a happy and fulfilling life." The philosophical questions surrounding happiness have interested him since the age of sixteen when he became the Israeli national squash champion. He was perplexed as to why after fulfilling his dream he didn't experience the happiness he expected. Of course, he was ecstatic after winning, but almost i ...more
Duffy Pratt
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
This is a pretty thin book with about enough content to fill a magazine article. The book centers around two ideas. First, that happiness is the "ultimate currency." The use of "currency", here, I think is unfortunate. Currency is actually a means of exchange that, at least with modern floating currencies, has no intrinsic value. A twenty dollar bill is not worth much in and of itself. It's worth comes from what we can exchange for it. Happiness is not like that. We don't exchange happiness for ...more
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The last book I'll tell you about was an airport impulse buy. It was me being afraid I might run out of things to read in Eastern Europe and knowing how hard it is here to get books in English. “Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment” is by Tal Ben-Shahar, a Harvard professor whose “Happiness Class” quickly became the most popular courses on campus!

This is not your typical self-help book full of mindless platitudes. Instead it is more like a workbook for your life. It's
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
very simple but profound book. i found myself bookmarking a lot of sections and exercises to return to when i had a bit more time. certainly, reading it did not make me suddenly *happier* - but it gave me some things to reflect on more.

two quotes:

"The proper role of goals is to liberate us, so that we can enjoy the here and now. If we set off on a road trip without any identified destination, the trip itself is unlikely to be much fun. If we do not know where we are going or even where we want
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Meh. Not great, not terrible. The problem I had with this book was that it was so theoretical as to be nearly impossible to apply in any concrete way. Also, I felt like the people who can read/get something out of this book are wealthy, first world singles living in a free society with no obligations other than to themselves and the means to do whatever they want (basically, the Harvard students that the author teaches). The whole talk of 'duty' and 'sacrifice' being bad for your happiness (even ...more
Conrad Zero
Hard NOT to like a book about being happier. :)

The author has big ambitions for this book. Not just a social change away from Materialism and towards Happiness as the "ultimate currency," but a worldwide Happiness Revolution. (I can see it now, rainbow flags, glitter bombs, and all sides with the same battle cry, "YAY!" Good luck with that.

Some of the book is a bit oversimplified and requires the occasional building an escape route out of painted-in corners. (OF COURSE there are times when we
Oct 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, favs, books-i-like
Great read. While some of it is obvious (find what makes you happy), he makes some great points. He poses some poignant questions on how to discover what matters to you, and how to add happiness to your life. He briefly discusses external vs. internal manifestations of happiness. Definite 5 star.

A few quotes from the book:

"To live a meaningful life, we must have a self-generated purpose that possesses personal significance rather than one that is dictated by society's standards and expectations
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Nothing surprised me in the content of this book, yet it's a nice and well-written reminder of how to focus on yourself, your view of life, your goals and overall understanding of happiness. If only it was easier to be happy (poof! and you're happy), if only everyone would know how to reach such state, show example.. we'd live in a way better place. But this book is one of many baby steps to reach this destination.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” /Mahatma Gandhi/
Patrik Hallberg
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
The backbone of the most popular course at Harvard today. A lot of great exercises to complete! I liked his hamburger model to describe people
- the vegetarian burger is the rat racer - future benefit, present detriment - inability to enjoy what they are doing and their persistent belief that once they reach a certain destination they will be happy.
- the junk-food burger is the hedonist - future detriment, present benefit - seeks pleasure, avoids pain.
- the worst burger is the nihilist - future
Sean Goh
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, psych
Interesting frameworks and concepts, like the future/present pleasure/detriment matrix, gratitude letters, and sentence completion.

Rather than asking yourself if you are happy or not, a more helpful question is "How can I become happier?"

If we do not ritualise activities - whether working out at the gym, spending time with our family or reading for pleasure - we often don't get to them, and rather than spontaneous we become reactive to external demands.

Hedonism: the experience of present bene
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it
This "self-help" book, I would recommend. It started out slow, but became more interesting and insightful as it went along. The book has you ask questions and complete sentences as exercises in the study of becoming "Happier". I actually worked through these exercises by writing down the questions/sentences and answers in a spiral. The thought patterns send you down many different paths to determine where your true happiness comes from and what you can do to feel happier in the greater part of y ...more
Oct 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
The author taught this Happier course at Harvard and he had the largest enrollment of students in Harvard history.
The book is a somewhat dry read for a self help book however but he references lots of studies and research which is unusual in this field and very interesting.
I love his basic premise which is that the ultimate currency is not money but happiness. In any situation, we should determine how much of the most important "currency" (happiness) we are going to earn.
I saw on TV that Denma
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
1. Create meaningful rituals.
2. Daily gratitude journal.
3. Live and appreciate the present moment.
4. Enjoy the journey: "Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain, nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain, happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak."
5. Struggles, hardship, and challenge are necessary components of an emotionally rich life.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Be
Patrick Peterson
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
2020-09-05 - I liked what I read, but it required more thought and discipline (taking daily activity notes) than I was willing to put into it,... so I dropped it.

But I have seen, heard and read so much since in this topic that I have come to appreciate it's idea and method far more now, than then.

I need to come back to this... and carve out the time to do so.
Neil Quinn
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
How to enjoy your unhappiness life by....? This is what professor Tal Ben-Shahar shares with us. Many ways to understand how your worthiness of your life is. I have seen many kinds of astonishing ideas about making your life happier. Sometimes, we may not notice it, until we are riddled with deadly disease leading us to know how to value and appreciate your life, and also people around you.

Recently, people are struggling with depression more than 20-year ago due to time and environment pressure
Alexander Rivas
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-books-read
I read that this author taught a course at Harvard and it was one the most popular with its students, that info led me into reading this book. After reading this book I can see why people love this class and as a current University student, I wish there was a class like this for me to take. There is a lot of practical advice that is supported by science and case studies on a topic that is one that a lot of people are seeking to achieve, being happier.

I love the fact that the author cites a lot
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
stuff you should already know from memes your friends share on facebook.
Main takeaway: there are 4 types or people/ activities:
those that have pleasure now forsaking the future (hedonists) -learned helplessness
forsake now for future pleasure (rat-racer) - the destination fallacy
those not good now or later (imo this is the actuality for both of the above)
those that cultivate happiness now and later - the main focus of the book. Lots of time spent examining how so many activities should be this wa
as i was reading this book, it seemed to apply to every situation and person around me. i love books that sink into the mesh of your life that way.

i didn't find "answers" in the exercises, but it's given me a lot to think about and integrates a lot of good thought about what happiness really represents.

i haven't found my personal north star, but i have found a clear answer as to why i might not feel as happy now as i once did. and somehow that gives me peace just to understand maybe my current
Janice Dimock
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
In a world gone mad- it's nice to read the logic and reason of Tal Ben-Shahar. The concepts in this book are similar to those in Shawn Achor's 'The Happiness Advantage'- as should be expected since Shawn was Tal's student. Still, repetition is not a bad things with these ideas. Our culture is designed to strive for happiness, so it's good to be reminded about what's really important in life. Be happy! ...more
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
nice little reminder about what really makes us happy. though this positive view not for everyone.
Jen Rentner
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Game changer. A truly worthwhile read. I’m happier already. :)
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that will change your life - if you let it.
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it

Instead of feeling despondent I am not perfectly happy as I think I ought to be, and instead of wasting my energies trying to gauge how happy I am, I am going to recognize that happiness is an unlimited resource. I am going to focus on ways in order to attain it. What I am going to do? Happiness is lifelong pursuit, anyway. To say I am going to be disciplined and leave it at that as we do with New Year's resolutions is not enough or practical. I need rituals, that is, routine, and it is useful b
Feb 26, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
I guess I shouldn't expect too much from a self-help book--even if it is written by a college professor. I think the book is designed to help Harvard students who still feel malaise even though they have "accomplished" a lot. The basic premise is to redefine what happiness is and then do things (set goals) so that you become happier. It boils down to keeping busy so you don't notice you're unhappy--as far as I can tell. The book is superficial: it can't help people whose life circumstances disem ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
By all accounts, Tal Ben-Shahar is a success. He won the Israeli squash championship when he was sixteen and received his PhD at Harvard University in Organizational Behavior. In 2006, he taught PSY 1504 — Positive Psychology – Harvard’s most popular course. Despite accomplishing many of his goals, he was not happy and became committed to answering the question of how one can attain lasting happiness.

Happier is an easy book to read. It does a great job translating with rigor the science of posit
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have read quite a few happiness books and wasn't initially impressed. However as I continued reading I thought that Ben-Shahar made some important points that other authors didn't fully cover. Essentially the book is about finding meaning in life, and he makes a strong case for why money and success aren't enough to bring happiness. There is much of the research that other books cover that he doesn't, but what he does cover he discusses clearly and thoroughly. It was worth the time to read. I ...more
May 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
I do not know how this book came to me. But I did not like it very much. I was interested in some anecdotes, but the book did not keep my interest. I just read some parts and left it in just a few hours.
Ni siquiera sé cómo este libro llegó a mis manos. Pero no me gustó especialmente. Alguna anécdota captó mi interés, pero el discurso general no mantuvo mi interés. Lo leí en diagonal y lo dejé en apenas unas horas.
Jan 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Ugh, lame. Bad writing, bad examples, way too many words to get across a very basic idea that you can find in any self-help book. Be happier by living in the moment. The author comes across as a complete tool.
Dana *
Aug 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting theories and observations. Alternative way to look at happiness in life. I listened to the cd version first, and am reading it to reinforce some of the ideas. Highly recommend to provoke some thought.
Elizabeth Gordon
Jan 18, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was assigned for my Positive Psychology class. I found a lot of it interesting, although some of it felt a little cheesy at times.
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Tal Ben-Shahar (Hebrew: טל בן-שחר‎, also known as Tal David Ben-Shachar) is an Israeli teacher and writer in the areas of positive psychology and leadership.

Tal Ben-Shahar taught at Harvard, where his classes on Positive Psychology and The Psychology of Leadership were among the most popular courses in the University's history. Today Tal teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

Tal receiv

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