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Happiness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – October 1, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199590605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199590605
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Welcome and erudite Huffington Post [T]he book is interesting, well-written and well-argued. GrrlScientist, the guardian

About the Author


Daniel M. Haybron is an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at Saint Louis University. An authority on well-being and the good life, moral evil, and the virtues, he has conducted research on happiness since 1995. He is the author of The Pursuit of Unhappiness.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By antti s. mattila on November 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Philosopher Daniel Haybron's short introduction to happiness is highly recommended! The author really knows his subject after several books and articles about the philosophy of happinesss and the good life. This is one of the first books to paint the whole picture that connects such concepts as happiness, flourishing, wellbeing and good life and explores their relations.
Haybron is also one of the few scholars of happiness, who knows both the theories, philosophical perspectives and empirical studies about happiness and good life.
This is the most accessible way to get an overview of happiness research and it is fresh and current.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
Written by a philosophy professor, this book is wide ranging and probing in its exploration of the topic of happiness (and related topics), but unfortunately I didn't get much out of it. We get a knowledgeable tour of many trees, but without the benefit of a clear overall map or otherwise getting a sense of the overall forest. With some effort, the main broad conclusions I was able to draw were:

- We'll be most satisfied with our lives if we live them in accordance with our values.

- Those values will preferably be aligned with the way the world actually works, as well as our individual, human, and social natures. So our relationships with other people matter a lot, and 'good' personal attributes like virtue, empathy, integrity, character, responsibility, caring, etc. are important. We should also choose wisely as far as the people we spend time with.

- We need a balance between engaging activity and relaxation. Stress needs to be managed, and we need to be resilient so that we can handle inevitable tough times. It also helps to have a connection with nature and a general attitude of appreciation of what life offers (glass half full).

- We need enough money and material resources to have basic security, and some freedom and options as far as how we spend our time. Beyond that, money and material resources are of limited benefit. So choose your career carefully based on your interests, personality, and abilities, don't simply chase after money and status.

Of course, this is all fairly standard wisdom, so this book only reinforced what I already knew, rather than adding to or deepening my understanding. But perhaps others will get more out of the book than I did.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim on November 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most important books I've ever read. It makes a really good case for the importance of happiness using rationalist, researched, and common sense examples.

I found myself thinking about happiness as the main goal in life more than I'd done before after reading the book. It's a great combination of classical philosophical views of how to live a happy life (virtue and whatnot) along with many practical examples such as pointing out that evidence that being out in nature produces happiness.

If you want to prevent yourself from living a life "deprived of beauty and wonder" (quoted from the book) or improve your ability to ponder the aforementioned "beauty and wonder" the VSI "Happiness" is a good start.
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Format: Paperback
This book, being a philosophical discourse on happiness, does not give a definitive answer as to what happiness is or how one can achieve. Haybron covers the different approaches to identifying and measuring happiness, including well-being and life satisfaction. These tools, however, are limited, not only by the slippery subject of happiness but also by respondents' apparent tendency to rate their happiness level high whenever they are asked, as if providing a lower rating would be embarrassing or shaming. Hayborn lists three major factors that he believes can construct a happy life: Endorsement (feeling happy and other "classic" emotions; Engagement (vitality and flow); and, Attunement (peace of mind, confidence, expansiveness). For the most part, I think these categories work and Hayborn explores how they can be attained. The one item that seems to have been covered ad nauseum is the effect of money on happiness - it is good up to a certain point ($70,000 in the US) and then goes flat. The hedonic treadmill is also discussed, where individuals seem to return to a set point of happiness after a change in circumstances, new experiences or material possessions. Meaning is also explored, and how while other things may appear counter to a happy outlook, a meaningful job, for example, could overall result in someone having a happy life (or having the subjective perspective that your job is meaningful). The bottom line, I think, is that happiness is something that we experience in spurts and intermittently, simply because that's how life is, but we can always step back and see that, in the big picture, our lives are not all that bad or that they could be far worse or that there is something to be learned from tough times, and so we can rate our overall well being highly. This book does a great job of covering all the different angles from which happiness can be studied in a short volume.
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