The Happiness Hypothesis

Title: The Happiness Hypothesis

Recommendation: 7.8/10


Jonathan Haidt is a positive psychologist (helping people find happiness and meaning) who studies philosophy and literature from the past 500 years. In this book, he distills his research into 10 core ideas to improve our modern lives.

The cover, a man riding an elephant, is a nod to the relationship between the unconscious mind (elephant) and the conscious mind (rider). By force, the conscious mind can control the unconscious, but training the elephant, instead of managing it, is the secret of self-improvement.

He summarizes the book by arguing that Yin Yang, diverse thought and having both sides, is needed “…only by drawing from many sources can we become wise.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that.


“…we often skim books or read just the reviews. We might already have encountered the Greatest Idea, the insight that would have transformed us had we savored it, taken it to heart, and worked it into our lives.*

The modern life trap is that more choices makes you 1) expect to find a perfect fit, and 2) less likely to find a perfect fit.

*I love this because too often I am distracted by the vanity metric, # of books read, and not # of habits changed, which would be much more impactful.

When cognitive therapy stops the benefits usually continue, most prescription drugs in contrast work only for as long as you take it.

Depressed people are convinced in their hearts of three things 1) I’m not good 2) my world is bleak 3) my future is hopeless

When a man knows the solitude of silence, and feels the joy of quietness, he is then free from fear

Something about the vastness and beauty of nature makes the self feel small and insignificant and anything that shrinks the self creates an opportunity for spiritual experience.

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