Book review : The Happiness Hypothesis - Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

Review and Summary of “The Happiness Hypothesis”:


1. The divided self

  1. The first disagreement is that of the mind against the body. For example, we are not often in control of our facial expression.
  2. The second disagreement is that of the left part of the brain against the right part. It has been observed in some people with a rare disease that both hands refuse to cooperate. One hand can grab a phone but cannot pass it to the other hand. The parts of the brain are also divided between those that are young in the history of evolution and those that are older. Between these, the unconscious part often works much better than the conscious part to solve complex problems because the former had much more time to form during natural selection. There is an opposition between parts that function automatically and other parts that depend on conscious control. The latter allows for a long-term vision, unlike immediate responses.

2. Changing your mind

The oldest and most effective method is meditation. This reduces stress and increases contentment.

3. Reciprocity and revenge

4. The principles of progress and adaptation

The difference in your happiness between these two events won’t be that significant. Admittedly, it’s still better to win the lottery than to have an accident.

5. An early happiness hypothesis

Sheldon called the following equation “the formula for happiness”:

H = S + C + V

6. The happiness hypothesis reconsidered

That’s what the very adventurous psychologist, Robert Biswas-Diener, did.

7. The use of adversity

8. The felicity of virtue

9. Conclusion: balance

Conclusion on “The Happiness Hypothesis”:

Strong points:

  • Lots of practical tips to apply
  • Well-argued ideas and reasoning
  • One of the only such comprehensive books on the subject

Weak points:

  • Some chapters are a little too long with passages not necessarily very interesting and somewhat pointless
  • For some of the key points, we’re a bit left unsatisfied: at times; a few more details would have been appreciated



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