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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom Paperback – December 1, 2006
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
His research focuses on morality - its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying the negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance, but then moved on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation. He is the co-developer of Moral Foundations theory, and of the research site YourMorals.org. He uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of their enemies (see CivilPolitics.org, and see his 2008 TED talk). He was the 2004 winner of the Virginia "Outstanding Faculty Award." He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. For more information see www.JonathanHaidt.com.
Top Customer Reviews
A major finding is that happiness is a set point for us, and that after good times and bad, we tend to return to our general level of happiness. At the same time, we can do things that help or hurt our happiness, and we can understand better how our minds and emotions work.
Factors that decrease happiness include persistent noise, lack of control, shame, dysfunctional relationships, and long commutes. Strong marriages, physical touch, meaningful relationships and religious affiliation tend to improve happiness. Activities with others enhance our happiness; status objects tend to separate us from others.
In terms of parenting, Haidt finds that secure children are well supported by parents who are nearby, providing safety and security. Avoidant children are neglected by their parents. And resistant children have parents who alternate between support and neglect. Haidt also shows how moral relativism is not good for children.
I was also fascinated by Haidt's observation that modernity and commercial culture slowly replaced the ideal of character with the idea personality, leading to a focus on individual preferences and personal fulfillment. This movement reached a height during the "values clarification" movement of the 1960s which taught no morality at all.Read more ›
First of all, the main hypothesis, that people make decisions with their gut and then use their brains to rationalize those decisions, is well supported. The examples are clear, real, and alive. You'll walk away from the book thinking, there are so many things that I do that I'm completely unaware of.
Secondly, my favorite thing about this book was that it was SO READABLE: it sounds like Jon Haidt is sitting across from you and speaking to you. (For example, you may have heard of the one and two marshmallow studies, but the story-like way that Haidt describes it will really capture your attention). Even the headings and section titles kept my curiosity up: what could that next section be about?
Third, the section on why human beings are hypocrites (ch. 4) is extremely interesting.
Finally, there is so much philosophy and history of psychology interwoven into the hypothesis of the book that you feel like you keep entering a new theatrical stage: one stage after the other, going to the center of a performance. And the best thing is, all the history, etc. is presented as "here is this story that shows why this happens" and "here's this other story."
This book reads like a great conversation with the reader. From the beginning he employs the right balance of simple explanation - such as the central metaphor of the 'Rider and Elephant' (the conscious and autonomous aspects of your mind, respectively) - and deep, nuanced examinations of the ancient ideas and what the light of modern research shows about them.
The chapters are structured to first present a couple of quotes that encapsulate an ancient idea, such as "The Golden Rule" (do unto others...). He explains the ideas, gives some of the ancient context in which they developed (sometimes at very interesting length) and then starts to weave in the nuance and finer detail that modern study has brought to these ideas. He usually frames things in the context of their effect on happiness and other continuums of human state of being (such as spiritual elevation). Haidt is pretty balanced even when he has to point out problems that some of the ancient ideas have. There's never a sense that `science is right' and `the ancients were wrong' in an absolute way. Often he does quite the opposite, he points out what ancient intuition did get right compared to the very unbalanced thinking behind some of the past popular movements within his profession, such as Behaviorism.
Also, Haidt is laugh-out-loud funny a couple of times in the book!Read more ›
Using delightful sparkling prose, Jonathan Haidt has written a meaty and worthwhile book about happiness, emotion and the creation of personal meaning. It is so rare nowadays to find people who can place their work in a broad historical and cultural context. Yet Haidt does just that. Here we have a book in which discussions of the brain rub shoulders with the sayings of the Buddha.
I am sure that nobody is going to agree with everything that he says. But neither would he want us to: he is informing and provoking discussion and understanding. I worry a little about the scientists and writers who try to reduce complex behaviors to neurons and hormones alone, and Jonathan avoids that trap.
This is an insightful book that belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in some of the fundamental problems of living a happy, fulfilled life, and of making a positive contribution to the world.
Very highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this book is truly incredible and I would recommend this to anyone who needs guidance. It will get you back on the right path and explain what you can do to create meaning in your... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Nick ohara
Fabulously researched and written. The title is a little misleading, thankfully I love reading books on ancient wisdom, philosophy, neuroscience and the human communication so... Read morePublished 14 days ago by La Paz
Actual, workable strategies, that are coupled with high, but realistic optimism.Published 17 days ago by Robert F. Carlson
It provided me powerful insights into motivation. It also contains excellent research to back up assertions, presented in an understandable fashion. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Mark A Johnson
Incredibly well researched. It's an insightful read for sure. A bit hard going at times but worth the effort for your own personal growth.Published 21 days ago by Anthony Venn Brown
This book was one of the best I've read. A great explanation on the psychology and anatomy behind happiness and many other facts. Read morePublished 22 days ago by jputnam
The title of this book is somewhat misleading. There are plenty of procedural manuals that postulate a sure fire method to obtain happiness. This isn't one of them. Read morePublished 26 days ago by OLD1mIKE
I found this book interesting. I especially like his explanation of the elephant and the rider, but found it somewhat lacking towards the end. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Michael S. Macfarlane