- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (February 5, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060859504
- ISBN-13: 978-0060859503
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #763,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Happiness Myth: The Historical Antidote to What Isn't Working Today Paperback – February 5, 2008
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
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From Publishers Weekly
History teaches us, contrary to popular belief, that money can buy happiness, drugs are mostly good, low-fat diets may not prevent cancer or heart disease. For Hecht, the assumptions about happiness that guide our actions are distorted by myths, fantasies and "nonsensical" cultural biases. Taking a tour of historical and contemporary ideas of happiness, Hecht (Doubt: A History) demonstrates that women's clothes shopping is a celebratory act of freedom from the long nights their ancestors spent spinning, and that the shopping mall gives us back some of the social intimacy of group activity that consumerism wiped out of our lives. In the 1830s, Sylvester Graham encouraged Americans to identify whole-grain, home-baked bread with happiness, a notion still embodied today in myriad message-carrying birthday and anniversary cakes. Our love of sports and exercise stems from Southern slaveholders' need to distance themselves from heavy labor and its connotation of slavery, and from the Protestant equation of happiness with aggressive self-control and self-denial. American ambivalence about drugs reflects our fears about unproductive happiness and palliatives that numb us into complacency. Although the erudite Hecht (Doubt: A History) sometimes loses her audience in verbose, philosophical dissections, her energetic romp through the arbitrariness of history's ideas about happiness is eclectic and entertaining, providing ample perspective on the rituals that make us human. (Apr.)
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.
Adding to the recent spate of happiness books, Hecht, author of Doubt: A History (2003), proves a beguiling writer blessed with a most agile mind. She skillfully confronts modern assumptions about what it means to be happy, investigating four factors frequently involved in happiness--drugs, money, bodies, and celebration--historically in sections on the wisdom of happiness through the ages, "good" and "bad" drugs and telling the difference, the relationship of money and happiness, the physicality of the body, and the ritual of celebration. There are three kinds of happiness, she maintains, those roused by a good day, by euphoria, and by a happy life. Not only different, they are often at odds. Her conclusions are often blunt (surprise! Money can buy happiness) and also practical. She offers suggestions that can conceivably help make a happier life, but her good judgment, common sense, and insightful commentary make the book a pleasure not only to read but also to ponder. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Times have definitely changed. In this book you will explore the myths and the facts of our history and today. It provides an in-depth look into many different theories that we thought were good for us which today's modern science proved them not-so. It shows us the differences between what happiness is today and what people expected happiness to be in times past. Jennifer Michael Hecht keeps you stimulated and interested while reading this book, kind of like the coca plants did for the Colombians working in the fields. Heckts' conclusions are quite interesting and many times practical, making it easy to get the message to care for ourselves.
Washington Post says "Heckts' curiosity ranges widely, and the breadth of her learning is impressive....Fresh and daring analysis."
This book will keep you informed and laughing all throughout the book. Through its' amazing research into the cultural history, it will certainly rethink your assumptions about happiness.
She reaches some surprising conclusions that are nothing short of fascinating. For example, money can (to some degree) buy happiness. Intuitively we all know this to be true. If put to its proper use, money can make our lives easier, and money can allow us to spend more time doing the things we treasure. Of course, money isn't a requirement for happiness, but it can be a tool for contentment. Also, letting one's hair down on occasion is liberating and exciting. Hecht mysteriously avoids drawing too many conclusions with this insight. I suspect she sees some forms of deviancy as good fun and harmless as long as the significant other is comfortable with the situation. I would have loved more of her analysis on this topic.
Hecht's treatment of drugs and alcohol is intriguing. She seems to advocate narcotics as a means to an end, and she doesn't make any value judgments on those who wish to partake. Is this a blanket approval of engaging in such illicit activities? Ah...once again the clever professor decided not to reveal her own personal conclusions. Rather, she lays out the case and leaves it for the reader to decide.
Hecht's writing is witty and engaging. I'd love to see her on C-Span's Book TV talking about her writings.
Most recent customer reviews
"It is clear to me that adults who want to know more about happiness ought to employ drugs...Read more