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Happier: Can you learn to be Happy? [Paperback]

Tal Ben-Shahar
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2008

Can You Learn to Be Happy?

"There are few self-help books more resolutley down to earth than Happier…Ben Shahar provides straightforward guidelines for integrating habits of gratitude and accepting negative emotions into daily life" Observer, January 2012

YES . . . according to the teacher of Harvard University’s most popular and life-changing course. One out of every five Harvard students has lined up to hear Tal Ben-Shahar’s insightful and inspiring lectures on that ever-elusive state: HAPPINESS.

HOW?
Grounded in the revolutionary “positive psychology” movement, Ben-Shahar ingeniously combines scientific studies, scholarly research, self-help advice, and spiritual enlightenment. He weaves them together into a set of principles that you can apply to your daily life. Once you open your heart and mind to Happier ’s thoughts, you will feel more fulfilled, more connected . . . and, yes, HAPPIER.

“This fine book shimmers with a rare brand of good sense that is imbedded in scientific knowledge about how to increase happiness. It is easy to see how this is the backbone of the most popular course at Harvard today." - Martin E. P. Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness

This paperback edition contains a preview chapter of Tal Ben-Shahar’s ‘The Pursuit of Perfect’


Frequently Bought Together

Happier: Can you learn to be Happy? + Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create Your Own Road to Happiness + Being Happy: You Don't Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Though everyone wants to be happier, how many of us can actually define what that means? In his class, "Positive Psychology," one of the most popular courses at Harvard University, Ben-Shahar teaches that happiness isn't as elusive a concept as people think, and can actually be learned; he commits the fundamentals of his course to paper in this primer on getting happy, which he defines as a combination of pleasure (short-term happiness) and meaning (long-term). Divided into three parts, "What is Happiness?", "Happiness Applied" and "Meditations on Happiness," Ben-Shahar provides insight and exercises, prodding reflection in readers ("Do you accept negative emotions as natural?" "Do you see your work as a job, a career, or a calling?") while explicating the relationships among happiness, motivation and goals. Though it sounds simple, Ben-Shahar insists on keen self-awareness and purposeful action to overcome entrenched patterns of despondency and/or disbelief. For answer-seekers, this is definitely a good start.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Jeff Woodman’s reading has a narrative drive that captures the author’s affirming ideas.”
AudioFile (Audiofile) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No-Nonsense Happiness Info Dec 5 2008
By Beth
Format:Hardcover
I really liked this book. While conducting my ongoing research on the subject of happiness, this book caught my eye with its bright red and yellow cover. Glancing through the book, the information caught my attention.

I guess what I liked best about it, and what sets it apart from the rest of the happiness books on the shelf, was the author's approach. Right off the bat, the book makes it clear that one's goal should not be to merely strive for a great state of happiness. As it points out, this approach suggests happiness is a point you try and reach, and then you've "made it"- game over.

Wrong. Nobody goes around in a perfectly blissful state all the time, and pursuing such a goal is doomed to fail.

Instead, our approach should be to try and continually work on being "happier" (hence the reason for the title of the book). The trying to be "happier" approach leaves us with a much more realistic goal- and suggests that it is more of an ongoing process in life we should be shooting for, rather than trying to reach a state of happiness and then you're good to go forever. So just how does the book intend to make one "happier"?

In two words, the research. Since the author teaches a class in positive psychology at Harvard, the book's tips to increase your happiness, such as setting goals and expressing gratitude, stand on solid ground. I also believe most readers will find them pretty doable.

When all was said and done, I found this book to be pretty good read with a sensible approach to becoming happier.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Happier Oct. 19 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Because the book arrived well before the due date and in the condition I expected. I would certainly be encourage to order more books in future. In fact I think I am going to order another one right away
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5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding happiness March 22 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ben-Shahar provides the reader with comprehensive discussion into what it means to be happy. Along with realistic examples and exercises one can discover the answer to this historic question in the context of today's world. "Happier" is a good beginning to a subject matter that many try to explain but frequently fail. Don't worry, read Happier.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  109 reviews
94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Years Later March 7 2009
By R. Oda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this book during the lowest point in my life. Now that I look back, about 1.5 years later, it was the catalyst that put me on the road to recovery. A few minutes ago I was sitting in my room looking at my bookshelf and caught sight of the yellow spine. I thought, "Damn. I HAVE to write a review."

The most significant observation in the book is that happiness is the ultimate currency. It's so basic, and so true. All this stuff that we do in life is for the purpose of gaining happiness. When I realized that status, possessions, relationships and accomplishments have no intrinsic value, I began to rethink my approach to life. The funny thing is, I do just about the same things today that I did back then. The difference is my experience of them. For me, it was matter of changing the way I motivated myself. For you it will probably be something else.

I don't know if this self-help book is better than any other, but it was very valuable to me. If you are in need, read it and do the exercises. The results will not be instant, but hopefully it will start or continue something good in your life.

Best of luck, everyone.
71 of 83 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but there are better introductions Aug. 8 2009
By P MARTIN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
.....and there are better follow-ups after your introduction.

This does descend into mimicking the self-help genre pretty quickly.

I think my issue with this book is that the author underpins his reflections and conclusions too often with, with, well, not with much other than his opinion supported by Samuel Smiles type aphorisms.

This is a shame, because the field of Positive Psychology (capital letters employed deliberately) has so much going for it, not least a substantial serious wealth of empirical data to support it.

I understand that the author's lectures at Harvard are incredibly well-attended and indeed well-regarded. Not quite sure why, on this showing.

It's not a pure example of the self-help genre (thank goodness), but neither is it sufficiently scholarly or referenced to be much more.

In fact one of the books that Ben-Shahar should have included in his bibliography, but for some inexplicable reason didn't, would be a far better introduction: "The Happiness Hypothesis", by Jonathan Haidt (a definite 5 star read) is everything this book should have been, but was published a least a year earlier.

An alternative introduction, more practical but better-referenced than "Happier" is Ilona Boniwell's "Positive Psychology in a Nutshell", which I can also recommend whole-heartedly.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 5-Star Read Feb. 21 2008
By Butterscotch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read Daniel Gilbert's `Stumbling on Happiness' and Sonja Lyubomirsky's `The How of Happiness.' Of them all, Happier is by far the best book in the area of positive psychology because it provides practical exercises and information that will really allow you to achieve happiness and view life in a different way. Happier is extremely readable because it isn't filled with statistics, anecdotes, or testimonials. Unlike Lyubomirsky's book, which has garnered much more media attention, Ben-Shahar of Happier doesn't force his theories and research at you; the book reads more like a comprehensive lecture of the subject of happiness. I really enjoyed the author's writing style, the way in which he presented the information, and the helpful tips he gave to increase my personal happiness. In my opinion this is the best book dealing with positive psychology because it doesn't just describe what positive psychology/happiness is, but allows you to start being happier right away. If you're looking for theories/research about happiness then I'd suggest Sonja or Gilbert but for practical advice, Happier will make you very happy.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU CAN BE HAPPIER NOW June 27 2007
By Betsy Landau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
HAPPIER has something for everybody. It is a brief guide to increasing happiness no matter how happy you are when you start reading. The tone is cheerful throughout. It is filled with exercises to help increase happiness on a daily basis while pursuing long term goals. If you have research interests, the bibliography will peak your curiosity. The little book is a philosophy of life which allows for ups and downs without having to give up present and future happiness. While other writers on happiness have said much of what Tal Ben-Shahar has said, and in more detail, the author has put the information together in a way new. A way that makes being happier accessible now.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To be happier, create more balance between extremes Nov. 19 2007
By Michele Connolly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Happier is based on Tal Ben-Shahar's positive psychology primer - the most popular class at Harvard and attended by about 20% of all Harvard graduates.

Ben-Shahar wisely suggests that a better question than 'Am I happy?' is 'How can I be happier?', since this recognizes happiness to be an ongoing and lifelong process.

He positions his book in contrast to self-help guides which, because they aren't subject to the scientific method, tend to 'over-promise and under-deliver' (page xi). Findings published in academic journals, he says, have greater substance.

Part 1 seeks to define happiness and identify the components of a happy life. Here purpose plays a large role in reconciling immediate and delayed gratification, as well as meaning and pleasure.

Part 2 applies these ideas to:

* Education - suggesting a 'lovemaking model' for more enjoyable learning
* Work - happier work gives meaning and pleasure and also uses a person's strengths
* Relationships - we may need to cultivate rather than find the relationships we want.

Part 3 contains Ben-Shahar's reflections on the nature of happiness and its place in our lives.

Rather than simply surveying the research, Happier seeks to help the reader become happier by incorporating interactive elements:

* Time-ins (as opposed to time-outs), which ask the reader to apply the ideas to their own life - for example, What are the things that you really, really want to do? (page 77).
* Exercises, which include journal-writing, meditations and tasks such as reading a particular book or joining a class.

In short:
Happier argues for a balanced approach to life - balancing present with future wants, pleasure-seeking with meaning-seeking, and self-interest with altruism. The combination of research, anecdotes and exercises give the reader a sense that being happier is an achievable and worthwhile goal.

Although Ben-Shahar's writing style is certainly not hard work, for some readers the book may be. There are so many concepts and tasks that the whole project may come to feel onerous after a while.

For readers really ready to get happier and looking for the information and exercises to follow, this is a good guide.
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