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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  14,238 Ratings  ·  911 Reviews
Jonathan Haidt skillfully combines two genres-philosophical wisdom and scientific research-delighting the reader with surprising insights. He explains, for example, why we have such difficulty controlling ourselves and sticking to our plans; why no achievement brings lasting happiness, yet a few changes in your life can have profound effects, and why even confirmed atheist ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 26th 2005 by Basic Books
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Jun 27, 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, 2017 Amir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: happiness
درباره کتاب:
کار بزرگی که نویسنده در این کتاب انجام داده، بررسی بسیار عمیق تحقیقات علم روانشناسی مدرن و همچنین ایده ها و آموزه های اساتید و پیشوایان باستانی و مذهبی بزرگاز بودا و کنفوسیوس گرفته تا محمد برای پاسخ به این سوالات:
دلایل و شرایط رشد و شکوفایی انسان
موانع موجود بر سر راه خوشحالی
در نهایت اینکه چه طور تحت هر شرایطی، می شه راه رو برای کامیابی و داشتن یک زندگی هدفمند توام با رضایت و شادی باز کرد

ساختار کتاب
نقطه قوت این کتاب بدون شک ریسرچ بسیار عظیم و جامعی هست که نویسنده انجام داده و همچنین
Jul 17, 2009 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
Kate Savage
Jan 24, 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
Jul 20, 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
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
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
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
Tom Tabasco
I loved Haidt's most recent book, "The righteous mind". This one (written years earlier) contains a lot of fascinating insights, but it seemed to me a little weaker. While "Righteous mind" examines the origins of morality, "Happiness" goes through some studies of happiness that I have already found or heard elsewhere, and it draws pertinent links with some ancient wisdom.

According to Haidt, the ones among us who have lost at the "cortex lottery" and are therefore less naturally prone to be happ
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
Jan Rice
May 30, 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
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
Aug 31, 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
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
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
Jan 28, 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
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Oct 16, 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
Mix of philosophy and social psychology. I liked the parts dealing with the issues of ethics and morality best, the ones regarding religion not so much. 3.5 stars

Fav. Quotes:

Threatened self-esteem accounts for a large portion of violence at the individual level, but to really get a mass atrocity going you need idealism— the belief that your violence is a means to a moral end. The major atrocities of the twentieth century were carried out largely either by men who thought they were creating a uto
Nov 03, 2013 Kirk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was recommended this book by a friend. Going in, I was skeptical - the premise sounded like some sort of self-help hand wavy junk. When I realized the ambition of the book, I got much more interested. To me, the concept seemed great: "here's an ancient theory on life from an important philosopher, here's some modern science that provides empirical evidence for this theory so it seems they were correct and we should follow his / her advice." However, I think this book may have reached too far a ...more
Петър Стойков
Единствената книга на еволюционния психолог Джонатан Хайд преведена на български. Тъжно е, че книга на такъв добър автор може да бъде издадена у нас само защото най-вероятно са я помислили за селф-хелп/духовно израстване/сила на духа четиво, каквито най-много се харчат сред по-голямата част от населението (не само у нас).

Всъщност, книгата най-добре може да се разбере съпоставена с цялостната работа на Хайд по отношение на разбирането на това от къде идва човешкият морал и как се проявява. Според
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
Nov 28, 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
David Quijano
Jan 19, 2017 David Quijano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Haidt's other book, "The Righteous Mind" and decided to read this one because of how much I liked it. The books are distinctly different from one another, but there is still a decent amount of overlap in information.

I view this book as a science based self help book. It is very informative and much of what I read, I didn't previously know. The book is filled with science-based advice on how to be happier, but in a practical way that acknowledges the limits of human willpower. The writing
Mario Tomic
Jul 22, 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 24, 2012 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.
Mar 26, 2017 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend this book and it's successor The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion highly enough. I read them in reverse order, and I imagine you will think whichever you read first is the better one. The second depends on much of the same research that informs the first, developing thoroughly ideas only hinted at in the earlier book. There is a fair amount of repetition; but for me that was a good thing. When you're not familiar with a discipline, repetition ...more
Pittayut Panswasdi
Jan 28, 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
Mar 24, 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.

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FULL Creative Lib...: The Happiness Hypothesis 1 15 Mar 05, 2014 01:44PM  
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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...

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“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.” 38 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.” 29 likes
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