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The Conquest of Happiness

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  10,647 ratings  ·  868 reviews
The Conquest of Happiness is Bertrand Russell's recipe for good living. First published in 1930, it pre-dates the current obsession with self-help by decades. Leading the reader step by step through the causes of unhappiness and the personal choices, compromises and sacrifices that (may) lead to the final, affirmative conclusion of 'The Happy Man', this is popular philosop ...more
Paperback, 183 pages
Published February 3rd 2006 by Routledge (first published 1930)
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Nathaniel Dakin Yes. I think the first part where Russell talks about the causes of unhappiness contains some really good stuff. For example, he reminds the reader to…moreYes. I think the first part where Russell talks about the causes of unhappiness contains some really good stuff. For example, he reminds the reader to not worry about things that are outside of your control. I think it is useful to be reminded of that whenever I am worrying too much about things in my life, like when I am going to find another job. I can't control how quickly that happens and shouldn't really worry about it as there is no point as I can't do anything about it. Instead I should focus on finding appropriate jobs to apply for and to try and present myself in the best way I can on my application and in the interview. It's a useful principle to keep in mind as I find it does eliminate a lot of worry and helps me focus on things I can have an impact on. (less)
Christopher Donaghue If you want a thoughtful answer, don't give the type of question that one would expect to find in school. We aren't here to do your homework.…moreIf you want a thoughtful answer, don't give the type of question that one would expect to find in school. We aren't here to do your homework.(less)

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Roy Lotz
In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more.

Like many people, I suspect, I find Russell an extremely agreeable person. And though he is, no doubt, several orders of magnitude cleverer than I am, I still identify very strongly with him. Perhaps this is only wishful thinking, but the m
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had my doubts: how can a privileged white, male philosopher tell me, a modern-day female minority about the conquest of happiness via a book that was written before my dad was born? How could we possibly have anything in common? Color me surprised. It's striking how relevant his writing is, to our society today.

I started reading this book after a stressful year in my life where I got too caught up with feelings of anxiety and lack of achievement despite working hard most days. I will not go th
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Some great advice from Bertrand Russell,for the conquest of happiness.

But first he looks at the causes of unhappiness.
The social system creates war,economic exploitation and unequal opportunities for individuals.

Unhappy people have mistaken habits,ethics and views of the world.A lot of self absorption,brooding and loneliness creates what he calls "byronic unhappiness."

Many people don't have the zest required for happiness.Competition,fatigue and boredom also create unhappiness.Envy is an even mo
Mar 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
I was so excited to read this book, because I love Bertrand Russell. I still love Bertrand Russell. It's just too bad that his view of humanity is so narrow-minded in this work. His descriptions of people, of society make you go "whaaaaat?", and while it could be chalked up to the fact that it was written nearly eighty years ago, I think there's more to it. Russell displayed enormous depth and understanding when he wrote "A History of Western Philosophy" a decade later, and I think time really i ...more
Oct 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I first read its second-hand hardcover (1930) bought at the National Book Fair XXXVI in Bangkok in 2008 and found Russell's views on happiness practical and witty. Russell famously wrote so clearly and contributively to the world that he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1950 (another similar case is, I think, Sir Winston Churchill), therefore, his writing style is still worth studying and applying in one's narration.

Let me show you some interesting quotes from this book published by
Dec 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

Bertrand Russel, cheery scientist and one of the greatest minds and personalities of the era, explains his take on human happiness and what keeps most of us from it most of the time. He explains this from a purely rational and non-theistic perspective, taking nothing for granted. This is NOT a self-help book, bu
In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more. This is due partly to having discovered what were the things that I most desired and having gradually acquired many of these things. Partly it is due to having successfully dismissed certain objects of desire—such as the acquisition of indubit ...more
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Russell was very right to title this quintessential self-help book with the word "conquest", since happiness is hardly a thing that emanates from the heavens down to your precious soul - unfortunately, the opposite view has held sway for a couple thousand years. Consequently, many average people do as they're told, expecting happiness to come to them if they are obedient, i.e., enjoy mainstream media, conform one's behavior to outside groups, etc. Yet, everything of human worth is precisely outs ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
In this little book, philosopher Bertrand Russell aimed at bringing across a very important message to the general public: happiness is both attainable and socially beneficial. Since it’s a book aimed at the general public, it’s not a tightly-knit philosophical discussion (although even these are a pleasure to read in the case of Russell). So, don’t expect to find any academic distinctions or clear definitions. Yet, since Russell was versed in mathematics, philosophy and science, he draws heavil ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
A transcendent experience, I could relate so much, it was like looking into the mirror, it called to me. A genuine book, calling it a self-help book wouldn't do it justice.

I don't know what happiness is, but Russell sure has taught me how to get there. His methods and views were so understandable, his logic irrefutable. Being a man of Science, his observations remain so accurate, I was blown away. I loved his observations about people in Science, they seemed so close to the truth. A Mathematicia
I had to keep in mind that this book was written in 1930 by man who lived within the confines of the privileged class of white privilege. If I hadn't kept that in mind the racism and sexism would have made this book intolerable. I had to grit my teeth and move along at times.

I'm not sure Russell could write this book today, even without the racism/sexism. It would probaly be better suited in 2013 to a blog than a book. He goes through all the of the reasons he sees for unhappiness and then throu
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Written in Russell’s usual say-it-like-it-is style, The Conquest of Happiness gets straight to the point with an incisive view of how to be happy, that is as apt today as when it was written nearly 50 years ago.
The book is split into two halves: the first describing the main causes of unhappiness, and the second, well I think you can guess that it’s the causes of happiness.
To summarise: live in the present; enjoy the small things; don’t compete with others; avoid boredom, yet aim for moderation
Oct 23, 2010 rated it liked it

It is always refreshing to hear exact scientists give their opinions about life or sociological matters. I find them a lot more refreshing than the usual quick guide to happiness by some psychologist, or the energy-inside-yourself babble by a spiritual charlatan.

Already from the introduction you understand that Russell is not writing this to make some easy money: he clearly wants to just pass on ideas that have worked for him, and that may be useful for others as well.

The book consists of two se
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
its a wonderful read . with great insight and indepth studyof human behaviour the author identifies what makes a man happy or unhappy. And the solutions he offer are practicable and easy to adopt if one so one wants. its a must read for all book lovers and for those who are interested in the study of human charcter.
Farhan Khalid
Unhappiness, why?

Day-to-day unhappiness from which most people in civilized countries suffer, and which is all the more unbearable because having no external cause, it appears inescapable

I believe this unhappiness to be very largely due to mistaken views of the world, mistaken ethics, mistaken habits of life


Gradually I learned to be indifferent to myself and my experience

I came to centre my attention increasingly upon external objects


Sins are committed by everyone or no one

The m
Apr 16, 2013 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read it because I'm into happiness books these days, but this one felt curiously dated (it came out in 1930). Its traditional philosophical approach and voice just isn't my thing.

However, if you can borrow it from the library or a friend--or if you can read a portion of it in a bookstore--it's worth reading Chapter 11: Zest.

His argument is that "the most universal and distinctive mark" of happiness is zest, which he essentially defines as a love of and curiosity about life. I like the way he
Debbie Massry
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think this book has very wise insights of life and the way we should be living.
I read it in parts to be able to absorb the information inside which is a lot.
I agree with most of his points of view.
Jo-Ann Zhou
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest chicken soup for the soul books I read so far, though frankly I haven't read a lot. The book was first published in 1930, which still applies to present life. It's an art to be happy, life long class. Below is what I quote from the book:

What I disagreed:

"A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live."

What I agreed:

"Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile."

1) "Remember that your mot
Liv Loran
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I give this book five stars not because I agree with everything Russel says, but because I disagree with most of it. Reading this book only makes me more sure of what I believe in regards to happiness.
P.J. Sullivan
Bertrand Russell was the quintessential rational man. In this book he applies rationality to psychology in a systematic examination of human thinking and motivations. Without denying the importance of external social forces, he concerns himself here with only those factors which lie within the power of the individual mind to change.

Discussing the psychological causes of unhappiness, he concludes that preoccupation with self is the chief culprit. The personality should be directed outward. The in
Zhiyar Qadri
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
insightful and lovely reflections of a genius on happiness #Mustread
finding our Anchors that genuinely give us gratefulness and zest for life is what matters.
Top 2 lessons to remember:
1- graceful accepting of an objective life however counterintuitive it maybe.
2- I will only put my favorite colors on my canvas ..
Matt Riddle
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is a bit dated in parts but still packed with goodness.

Some people consider self-love or self-esteem the counter to or cure for self-loathing. Russell makes a very compelling argument that self-esteem and self-loathing are merely flip sides of the same coin of self-absorption. Russell argues that the best and most healthy practice is to think about yourself as little as possible and instead become absorbed by causes and activities outside of yourself.

"Through such interests a man come
Carmen Movilă
Let's just say it's... enlightning ^^
One of the best lectures so far. :)
Radhika Roy
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up a copy of this book more than 5 years back at a book fair. I had flipped through it, but never got the chance to sit down with it. I can safely conclude that I could not have chosen a more opportune moment to read this.

Bertrand Russell is a renowned philosopher and mathematician. One might remember him for his 1945 book "A History of Western Philosophy", which earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. "The Conquest of Happiness" is one of his lesser-known works, which I hav
Ami Iida
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
excellent philosophy
Snehal Bhagat
A mathematician-turned-philosopher reflects on what constitutes true happiness, and how to attain it.

Russell is highly regarded in mathematical circles, but I have little idea of what his contribution to philosophy is, or in what light modern psychology views his recipes for achieving a happy life. And recipes they are, arising out of his personal observations. Which probably explains the unappetizing elements of the book- a friend of mine says that if you only ever get to see circles when you a
M Jahangir kz
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book.
There is a great rave in the writing of Bertrand Russel, he really writes with great wit and clarity.

This book as the title suggests digs deep down upon the humanity most sort after and most wanted thing "the happiness".

Divided into two parts, in first part author eloquently discusses the things that makes us unhappy, such as Competition, envy, sin, and others.. the author goes deep and pen down the causes of unhappiness, and explain why, how and in what capacity these things cont
Bogdan Raț
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you, Sir Russell, for your wisdom.
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, owned
3.5 ☆
Invented self-help written by old ethnocentric white men
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Much more the passionate carpe diem approach of Horace than the placid sit down quietly and wait for happiness to alight on you approach of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Even the title is proactive, suggestive of territory being taken in a war with an opposing force.

Russell begins with the notion that happiness begins in something exterior to a person. I would have to agree with him on purely etymological grounds. Happiness is related to the English words 'happenstance' and 'hapless' (both words that ind
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Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS, was a Welsh philosopher, historian, logician, mathematician, advocate for social reform, pacifist, and prominent rationalist. Although he was usually regarded as English, as he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born in Wales, where he also died.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 "in recognition of his var

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