This is the happiness hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom book review. Why do some people find purpose and fulfillment in life while others do not? Jonathan Haidt’s book provides a detailed answer to this question. The Happiness Hypothesis aligns philosophical, religious, and theoretical texts with recent scientific insights. He also draws from psychology’s “attachment theory” and recent developments in the neuroscience of emotion.
Haidt shows how the field of positive psychology is tapping into something universal and timeless by illuminating modern truths in ancient and classic thinking—from Buddhism to Benjamin Franklin, the New Testament to Nietzsche, Plato to Freud.
What is the Happiness Hypothesis?
At first glance of my review of the Happiness Hypothesis may sound like a self-help book, but Haidt makes a point of distinguishing his theory from the standard self-help perspective. He argues that psychology places much importance on conscious thought and the analytical mind. Moreover, self-help books imply that if we are self-aware enough in our daily lives, we may use our intellect to overrule our emotional instincts, thus willing ourselves to be happy.
However, Haidt argues that we can best promote happiness and well-being through our brains’ emotional and subconscious parts. Thus cultivating habits of daily meditation—or even using anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac are more potent than insights emotionally rather than intellectually driven from an episode of Dr. Phil. (This is why New Year’s resolutions don’t often last.)
The Happiness Hypothesis is about the “origins of positive psychology in ancient wisdom,” furthermore, it is a guide to applying what scientists know about the mind to find ever greater happiness. Throughout the book, Haidt offers an interpretation of the culture wars in the United States. He provides few keys to understanding relationships and how Western virtue and morality may be costing us happiness and well-being.
The Happiness Hypothesis is a book that is both scientifically sound and well-written. This literary masterpiece reads like a novel and is at the same time a genuine moral achievement.
Who is Jonathan Haidt?
Jonathan Haidt is a Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. In 1992, he received his Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. He also did his post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago and in Orissa, India. Jonathan Haidt taught at the University of Virginia for 16 years before moving to NYU-Stern in 2011. Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the “top global thinkers” and one of the “top world thinkers” by Prospect magazine.
Haidt’s research focuses on morality, its emotional foundations, cultural variations, and developmental course. He began his career studying negative moral emotions, such as disgust, shame, and vengeance. He then went on to the understudied positive moral emotions, such as admiration, awe, and moral elevation. Haidt is also the co-developer of Moral Foundations Theory and the research site YourMorals.org. He is a co-founder of HeterodoxAcademy.org, which advocates for viewpoint diversity in higher education.
Moreover, Johnathan Haidt uses his research to help people understand and respect the moral motives of their enemies (see CivilPolitics.org and see his TED talks).
He also authored a few bestsellers like The Happiness Hypothesis, The Righteous, and (with Greg Lukianoff) The Coddling of the American Mind. For more information, see www.JonathanHaidt.com.
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
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Final Thoughts on the Happiness Hypothesis
During my review of The Happiness Hypothesis, I found that it is an excellent read, and you can buy it by clicking this link. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom is one of Johnathan Haidt’s bestsellers.