Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual

Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual

4.2 21
by Dennis Prager
     
 

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We are completely satisfied with nothing

There is little correlation between the circumstances of people's lives and how happy they are.

This is the repair manual we should have been handed at birth

When you ask people abouttheir most cherished values in life, "happiness" is always at the top of the

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Overview

We are completely satisfied with nothing

There is little correlation between the circumstances of people's lives and how happy they are.

This is the repair manual we should have been handed at birth

When you ask people abouttheir most cherished values in life, "happiness" is always at the top of the list. However, unhappiness does not seem to be the exceptional order to be happy, we first have to battle ourselves.

Happiness is an obligation—to yourself and to others

Not only do we have a right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy. Our happiness has an effect on the lives of everyone around us—it provides them with a positive environment in which to thrive and to be happy themselves.

Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
...[Prager] has an astonishing ability to state simple truths we hadn't heard articulated before, at least not so clearly, in a way that makes their truthfulness immediately and powerfully obvious.
Los Angeles Times
Prager's latest book challenges readers to realize that they—not any outside force—are the greatest obstacle to happiness.
USA Today
...a cogent and thoughtful examination on why human beings have a moral obligation to be happy.
Library Journal
A popular lecturer, Los Angeles radio personality, and former TV talk-show host, Prager has developed a surprising following in today's soundbite media culture. Supporters praise his earnest tone, nonideological opinions, and insistence that his audience think deeply about serious issues. Detractors accuse him of sloppy thinking, intellectual pretentions, and a kind of benevolent, patronizing conservatism. Both sides of Prager are in evidence in his latest offering (after Think a Second Time, ReganBooks, 1995), in which he uses the pursuit of happiness as a central motif but generally instructs in the modern art of self-improvement. The 31 short chapters, with titles like "Find the Positive," "Seeing Yourself as a Victim," and "Psychotherapy and Religion," are more like separate essays, often disconnected and occasionally repetitive. But taken individually, they are cogent, complete, and preach a nonreligious yet morally guided moderation that should appeal across a wide range of patron groups. A fine choice for all public libraries where self-help books are popular.Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060987350
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/28/1998
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
205,291
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt


Happiness Is a Moral Obligation


We tend to think that we owe it to ourselves to be as happy as we can be. And this is true. But happiness is far more than a personal concern. It is also a moral obligation.

After one of my talks on happiness, a woman in the audience stood up and said, "I only wish my husband had come to this talk." (He had chosen to attend a talk on business instead.) She explained that he was the unhappy one in their relationship and that much as she loved him, it was not easy being married to an unhappy person.

This woman enabled me to put into words what I had been searching for--the altruistic, in addition to the obvious personal, reasons to take happiness seriously. I told the woman and the audience that she was right; her husband should have attended the talk because he had a moral obligation to his daily partner in life to be as happy as he could be.

Upon a moment's reflection, this becomes obvious. We owe it to our husband or wife, our fellow workers, our children, our friends, indeed to everyone who comes into our lives, to be as happy as we can be. This does not mean acting unreal, and it certainly does not mean refraining from honest and intimate expressions of our feelings to those closest to us. But it does mean that we owe it to others to work on our happiness. We do not enjoy being around others who are usually unhappy. Those who enter our lives feel the same way. Ask a child what it was like to grow up with an unhappy parent, or ask parents what pain they suffer if they have an unhappy child (of any age).

There is a second reason why happiness is a moral obligation. In general, people act more decently whenthey are happy. The chapter on seeking goodness explains the connection between goodness and happiness at length. It will suffice here to answer this: Do you feel more positively disposed toward other people and do you want to treat other people better when you are happy or when you are unhappy?

There is yet a third reason. I once asked a deeply religious man if he considered himself a truly pious person. He responded that while he aspired to be one, he felt that he fell short in two areas. One of those areas, he said, was his not being a happy enough person to be considered truly pious.

His point was that unhappy religious people reflect poorly on their religion and on their Creator. He was right; in fact, unhappy religious people pose a real challenge to faith. If their faith is so impressive, why aren't these devoted adherents happy? There are only two possible reasons: either they are not practicing their faith correctly, or they are practicing their faith correctly and the religion itself is not conducive to happiness. Most outsiders assume the latter reason. Unhappy religious people should therefore think about how important being happy is--if not for themselves, then for the sake of their religion. Unhappy, let alone angry, religious people provide more persuasive arguments for atheism and secularism than do all the arguments of atheists.

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What People are saying about this

Rabbi Harold Kushner
"There is perhaps no more important task for a person that the research for happiness, and no more reliable guide in that quest than Dennis Prager."
Brad Stetson
"This is one of those rare books so dense with compelling insight that every page will likely give pause for reflection. (Prager's writing) is unfailingly clear, and expert at demystifying the brew of emotions, desires and thoughts that impair our ability to understand ourselves."

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