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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

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Overview

In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the world’s philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives.

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The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

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Overview

In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the world’s philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Library Journal, Best Books 2006
“With singular gusto, Haidt measures ten ‘Great Ideas’ against past/present research in psychology and science. LJ ‘s verdict: Dr. Phil et al. don’t have diddly on the old-school sages. No man is an island, indeed, and no modern reader should be without this carefully considered demystification of life.”

Darrin McMahon, The Washington Post
“[T]he psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows in his wonderfully smart and readable The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom [that] modern science and history have a lot to say to each other."

Nature
“This is a delightful book... Haidt’s writing embraces spiritual and mystical viewpoints while retaining scientific and rational coherence.”

Guardian 
(London)
“[A] marvelous book…I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that laid out the contemporary understanding of the human condition with such simple clarity and sense.”

Psychology Today
“Haidt’s remedy for the modern glut of frivolous self-help literature is to review and revise the classics, examining the ideas of thinkers like Plato, Buddha and Jesus in light of modern research into human behavior. Along the way, Haidt, a social psychologist, provides practical advice for parenting, romance, work and coping with the political and cultural divisions currently preoccupying the country. The new science he outlines mostly confirms ancient wisdom, but Haidt finds several instances where the two disagree, suggesting that the surest path to happiness is to embrace and balance both old and new thinking.”


Sunday Times (London)
“This unusual book sets itself apart from the self-help category with its extensive scientific references, and intelligent, neutral prose, while the author’s illuminating illustration of how the human mind works is both educational and refreshing.”


The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Haidt has served up a hearty dish of conventional wisdom, accompanied by a selection of psychological science of excellent vintage…..This book not only offers practical suggestions to help us succeed in these efforts, but also discusses why we should reexamine much of what we have been taught in the light of new
psychological knowledge.”

Seattle Times
“A disarming, original book, reassuring to those more conversant with worriment than merriment…Smart and serious without pomposity.”


People
“[An] inspiring nuanced study.”

The Oregonian
“Haidt explains why what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and why the Golden Rule works.”


Library Journal
“A fresh, serious, elevating guide to living everyday life better.”

Bookpage
“Haidt is a fine guide on this journey between past and present, discussing the current complexities of psychological theory with clarity and humor. . . Haidt’s is an open-minded, robust look at philosophy, psychological fact and spiritual mystery, of scientific rationalism and the unknowable ephemeral – an honest inquiry that concludes that the best life is, perhaps, one lived in the balance of opposites.”
 
Antonio Damasio, author of Looking for Spinoza
“Jonathan Haidt leaves no doubt about the importance of emotion in the creation of personal meaning. This is a delightful and courageous book.”


David M. Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire:  Strategies of Human Mating
THE HAPPINESS HYPOTHESIS is a wonderful and nuanced book that provides deep insight into the some of the most important questions in life—Why are we here?  What kind of life should we lead?  What paths lead to happiness?  From the ancient philosophers to cutting edge scientists, Haidt weaves a tapestry of the best and the brightest.  His highly original work on elevation and awe—two long-neglected emotions—adds a new weave to that tapestry.  A truly inspiring book.”

 
Daniel Wegner, author of The Illusion of Conscious Will
“Should we live our lives by age-old wisdom or the latest discoveries?  Haidt gives us the luxury of not having to choose, bringing together both sources of insight in this sparkling investigation into the psychology of life and happiness.”


William Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence and author of The Moral Child
“It would be something of an exaggeration to say that Jonathan Haidt has found the final answer to happiness, but he has come as close as any other writer of our times. Every page of his book provides gems of insight about the good life and where to look for it. Anyone who is interested in humannature and its potential must read this book.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of FLOW
"This fresh and original book goes to the heart of what people have found out about happiness, across cultures and times. Enjoyable, important, and eminently readable."
 
David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, author of Intuition: Its Powers and Its Perils 
“An intellectual tour de force that weaves into one fabric wisdom that is ancient and modern, religious and scientific, Eastern and Western, liberal and conservative—all with the aim of pointing us to a more meaningful, moral, and satisfying life.”
 
Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
“In this beautifully written book, Jonathan Haidt shows us the deep connection that exists between cutting-edge psychological research and the wisdom of the ancients.  It is inspiring to see how much modern psychology informs life's most central and persistent questions”
 
Martin E.P. Seligman, Director, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness
“In our quest for happiness, we must find a balance between modern science and ancient wisdom, between East and West, and between ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain.’ Jon Haidt has struck that balance perfectly, and in doing so has given us the most brilliant and lucid analysis of virtue and well-being in the entire literature of positive psychology.  For the reader who seeks to understand happiness, my advice is: Begin with Haidt.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465028023
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 12/15/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 77,407
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. His research examines morality, the moral emotions, and the intuitive foundations of politics and religion. He is the co-editor of Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-Lived, and the author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.  He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"The Happiness Hypothesis is a wonderful and nuanced book that provides deep insight into the some of the most important questions in life—Why are we here?  What kind of life should we lead?  What paths lead to happiness?  From the ancient philosophers to cutting edge scientists, Haidt weaves a tapestry of the best and the brightest.  His highly original work on elevation and awe—two long-neglected emotions—adds a new weave to that tapestry.  A truly inspiring book."  -David M. Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire:  Strategies of Human Mating
 
“In this beautifully written book, Jonathan Haidt shows us the deep connection that exists between cutting-edge psychological research and the wisdom of the ancients.  It is inspiring to see how much modern psychology informs life's most central and persistent questions."-Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
 
“In our quest for happiness, we must find a balance between modern science and ancient wisdom, between East and West, and between ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain.’ Jon Haidt has struck that balance perfectly, and in doing so has given us the most brilliant and lucid analysis of virtue and well-being in the entire literature of positive psychology.  For the reader who seeks to understand happiness, my advice is: Begin with Haidt.” -Martin E.P. Seligman, Director, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness

“Haidt is a fine guide on this journey between past and present, discussing the current complexities of psychological theory with clarity and humor. . . Haidt’s is an open-minded, robust look at philosophy, psychological fact and spiritual mystery, of scientific rationalism and the unknowable ephemeral – an honest inquiry that concludes that the best life is, perhaps, one lived in the balance of opposites.”
-Bookpage

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Too Much Wisdom     ix
The Divided Self     1
Changing Your Mind     23
Reciprocity with a Vengeance     45
The Faults of Others     59
The Pursuit of Happiness     81
Love and Attachments     107
The Uses of Adversity     135
The Felicity of Virtue     155
Divinity With or Without God     181
Happiness Comes from Between     213
Conclusion: On Balance     241
Acknowledgments     245
Notes     247
References     265
Index     291
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Religious tone ruins science

    I looked forward to this book as an introduction to emotional intelligence. I was dismayed to find that most quotations used to defend points were biblical. I could not finish the book after I got to the chapter on religion as I felt that is what the book had been about the whole time. There are certainly better books that present the science of emotion.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Interesting, challenging and relevant

    I enjoyed this book very much.
    There is a tendency in reviewing contemporary psychological study to think about human activity in a scientific or sociological context, without addressing what it all adds up to, what it means. Mr. Haidt does a great job of weaving current research together with wisdom literature's common precepts, in a way that brings new focus on our humanity -- the best, the imperfect and the between.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2007

    Interesting Mix of Disciplines

    Author's chatty style helps provide a winding trip thru conventional wisdom (and sometimes its debunking), and a hearty blend of quotations, scientific studies, and blending of religion, philosophy and practicality. I found myself underlining numerous passages and considering this topic as it applies to me, my family, and the world around me. Ultimately, I suspect that I'm happier for taking the time to read this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 1, 2013

    Good review of the state of the science of happiness

    Good review and update on the psychology of happiness by an experienced university researcher. Happiness Hypotheses may have been a more appropriate title.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Clear writing, insightful research and conclusions. Excellent book.

    Haidt manages to bridge the gap between academic writing and material that "everyone" can not only read but also understand. The personal stories that he includes add warmth and reality to the theories!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 8, 2010

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    Posted July 30, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2009

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