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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.)
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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 the Hardcover edition.
Incredible! This book is one you go back to many times throughout your life and continuously apply the techniques Jonathan has discussed. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Shay
One of the best basic books on the new positive psychology topic.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
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... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Paul V Connors
Great little book, filled with huge ideas and dense information. I go back to it over and over again. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Island Kate
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. Read morePublished 13 months ago by JAMES R SYKES
This book deserves reading, revising and applying to our life. A through way to happiness. I borrowed the book from the library and before I finish reading it, I decided to have... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Mahdi Hadidi
broad range of topics pulled together in a easy to understand way. Put into words why the Eastern doctrine of nonattachment didn't feel quite right in relation to relationshipsPublished on May 14 2013 by Paula Bruckard
I have purchased many copies of this book and given them to friends. I highly recommend this book to everyone. Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2013 by Danny P