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Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom...Why the Meaningful Life is Closer Than You Think [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Jonathan Haidt , George K Wilson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 23 2007
This is a book about ten great ideas.Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world's civilizations - to question it scientifically, and to extract from it the lessons that apply to our modern lives.Jonathan Haidt skillfully combines two genres#151;philosophical wisdom and scientific research#151;delighting the reader with surprising insights. He explains, for example, why we have such difficulty controlling ourselves and sticking to our plans; why no achievement brings lasting happiness, yet a few changes in your life can have profound effects, and why even confirmed atheists experience spiritual elevation. In a stunning final chapter, Haidt addresses the grand question "How can I live a meaningful life?," offering an original answer that draws on the rich inspiration of both philosophy and science.

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an "elephant" of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual "rider." Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiate—and sometimes critique—with the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's studies into pleasure. And Nietzsche's contention that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger is considered against research into post-traumatic growth. An exponent of the "positive psychology" movement, Haidt also offers practical advice on finding happiness and meaning. Riches don't matter much, he observes, but close relationships, quiet surroundings and short commutes help a lot, while meditation, cognitive psychotherapy and Prozac are equally valid remedies for constitutional unhappiness. Haidt sometimes seems reductionist, but his is an erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues. (Jan.)
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.

From Booklist

Using the wisdom culled from the world's greatest civilizations as a foundation, social psychologist Haidt comes to terms with 10 Great Ideas, viewing them through a contemporary filter to learn which of their lessons may still apply to modern lives. He first discusses how the mind works and then examines the Golden Rule ("Reciprocity is the most important tool for getting along with people"). Next, he addresses the issue of happiness itself--where does it come from?--before exploring the conditions that allow growth and development. He also dares to answer the question that haunts most everyone--What is the meaning of life?--by again drawing on ancient ideas and incorporating recent research findings. He concludes with the question of meaning: Why do some find it? Balancing ancient wisdom and modern science, Haidt consults great minds of the past, from Buddha to Lao Tzu and from Plato to Freud, as well as some not-so-greats: even Dr. Phil is mentioned. Fascinating stuff, accessibly expressed. 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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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read!! Aug. 6 2006
By H. Lade
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is very psychologically and philospohically based. Thus, it should not be embarked upon lightly for it is quite dense. However, I have never read anything that so completely reframes everyday experience as this book. I really love it.

It starts with looking at the evolution of the human brain and talks about the two parts of it: the elephant (wise emotional) and the rider (wise logical). Then the book continues to take the reader through the most popular spiritual, philospohical and psychological theories and compare their postulates against current psychological research. The results

are pretty amazing.

One of my favourites was the exploration of the adage : "money can't buy happiness". The author quips "It turns out it can if you just know where to shop". A short summary...

Humans are excellant at adapting to their environment. So for most of us, the everyday becomes somewhat hum drum no matter what your everyday is like. (The author takes the time to explain when and why we don't adapt.) However, we feel happiness thoughtout our day when we are engaged in activities that suit are greatest strengths (possibilities such as compassion, creativity, learning, honesty, justice). The author

further states that if we use money to buy experiences that allow us to use our strengths then we feel more happy on average than others. The same if we use our money to buy

us time to use our strengths. (Examples... pay a cleaning service to free up time, painting classes (create your dustables instead of buying them), vacations, family picnics

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Happiness Hypothesis Sept. 27 2006
By Lisa
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking book. Jonathan Haidt was able to put his own prejudices aside in the style of a true scientist and present evidence as to whether our ideas about what makes us happy work or don't work. He is involved in trying to understand in minute detail the factors which motivate humanity towards certain behaviours. He presents evidence which explains how our biology, our brain functioning may result in certain social behaviour and how this has in effect created the human animal in all its manifestations. I would have liked the book to be longer, and for him to have cited more examples. However, the book gave me a fresh perspective on a number of issues and helped me understand others in a new and more thorough way. He manages to do this with humour and a sense of fun which make me wish he'd been my college professor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is happiness and the modern malaise disected and understood in a way, it's pretty safe to say, that you likely haven't seen before. Haidt views happiness through the lense of ancient philosophers and modern psychology, integrating diverse perspectives by forcing them to converse with each other. In the end, I think it's safe to say he gives us a stronger understanding of what it truly takes to make us happy, and why we so often fail in our attempts to get there.

Just like the promise in the title, much of the wisdom is ancient, but it's complemented in surprising ways by modern research.

Haidt at times undermines his story by relying on mere assertions and rhetoric to make his points, in areas where many might find cause to dispute what he takes as a given. Nonetheless, despite any problems, the sheer originality and good humour of this book make it well worth reading.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Wisdom + Modern Research Sept. 3 2009
Before hearing a CBC radio interview with the author, I never knew this field of psychology existed. I'm not really a big self-help reader, but I love this book.

Professor Haidt matches ancient wisdom with modern research, and presents scholarly research in a very approachable, easy to read manner.
Wonderfully written, and full of timeless advice.

Thanks Professor Haidt for a wonderful book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Made me Think Aug. 10 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoy reading books that expand my vision of the world; this is one of those. The only missed points, for me, were around religion and left vs right politics, both items are too much USA-centric and added nothing of value for me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book Aug. 10 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great little book, filled with huge ideas and dense information. I go back to it over and over again. Some of the ideas have become seminal to my own way of thinking, and for the better I think. Thank you Jonathan Haidt!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read this Book! July 27 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to anyone interested in what it means to live a good life, and to anyone who likes to read insightful and thought-provoking books. I also recommend "The Righteous Mind" by the same author.
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