The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

I finished my first book about positive psychology – Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment by Martin E. P. Seligman – and am on to Jonathan Haidt‘s The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.

I really enjoyed Authentic Happiness so I’m excited about The Happiness Hypothesis — and yes I’m still currently also reading Carson McCullers‘s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter; I’m just taking my time with it and reading other books at the same time.

Jonathan Haidt is a professor of Social Psychology at the University of Virginia who studies morality and emotion and how they vary across cultures. He is also a leader in positive psychology and studies positive emotions such as moral elevation, admiration, and awe.

From what I gather from reading the introduction, The Happiness Hypothesis is about ten Great Ideas that Haidt has come across in the works of ancient wisdom (Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, the sayings of Buddha, Analects of Confucius, the Tao te Ching, the Old and New Testaments, the Koran, etc.) and other works of philosophy and literature (Shakespeare for example). Each chapter attempts to savor one of these ten Great Ideas and to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives. This book gives advice on how to construct a life of virtue, happiness, fulfillment, and meaning.

Visit the author’s website to read Chapter One (The Divided Self) and Chapter Four (The Faults of Others). Here are the other Chapter titles in case you’re curious:

Introduction: Too Much Wisdom

1 The Divided Self 1
2 Changing Your Mind 23
3 Reciprocity with a Vengeance 45
4 The Faults of Others 59
5 The Pursuit of Happiness 81
6 Love and Attachments 107
7 The Uses of Adversity 135
8 The Felicity of Virtue 155
9 Divinity With or Without God 181
10 Happiness Comes from Between 213
11 Conclusion: On Balance 241

Acknowledgments 245
Notes 247
References 265
Index 291

My favorite quotes from the Introduction are two from Shakespeare and Buddha with similar meanings.

There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. – Shakespeare

Our life is the creation of our mind. – Buddha


2 responses to “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

  1. Pingback: The Happiness Hypothesis: The Divided Self, Changing Your Mind, Reciprocity with a Vengeance, The Faults of Others « Adventures in Reading

  2. Pingback: Haidt’s Happiness Hypothesis: Chapters 5 - 11 « Adventures in Reading

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