The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (Anglais) Broché – 5 décembre 2006
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Revue de presse
"Marvellous... Haidt...takes us on an extraordinary journey... 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." (James Flint Guardian)
"A superbly argued, crystal clear and intelligent blend of new directions in contemporary experimental psychology with traditional philosophical thought... And you know what? Reading it did actually make this reviewer happier." (Arena)
"A delightful book... By some margin the most intellectually substantial book to arise from the 'Positive Psychology' movement." (Nature)
"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" (Library Journal Best Books 2006) --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
Présentation de l'éditeur
But are these 'truths' really true? Today we all seem to prefer to cling to the notion that a little bit more money, love or success will make us truly happy. Are we wrong?
In The Happiness Hypothesis, psychologist Jonathan Haidt exposes traditional wisdom to the scrutiny of modern science, delivering startling insights. We learn that virtue is often not its own reward, why extroverts really are happier than introverts, and why conscious thought is not as important as we might like to think...
Drawing on the rich inspiration of both philosophy and science, The Happiness Hypothesis is a remarkable, original and provocative book - ancient wisdom in our time. --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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A serious and documented approach of our internal psychological engine.
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A major finding is that happiness is a set point for us, and that after good times and bad, we tend to return to our general level of happiness. At the same time, we can do things that help or hurt our happiness, and we can understand better how our minds and emotions work.
Factors that decrease happiness include persistent noise, lack of control, shame, dysfunctional relationships, and long commutes. Strong marriages, physical touch, meaningful relationships and religious affiliation tend to improve happiness. Activities with others enhance our happiness; status objects tend to separate us from others.
In terms of parenting, Haidt finds that secure children are well supported by parents who are nearby, providing safety and security. Avoidant children are neglected by their parents. And resistant children have parents who alternate between support and neglect. Haidt also shows how moral relativism is not good for children.
I was also fascinated by Haidt's observation that modernity and commercial culture slowly replaced the ideal of character with the idea personality, leading to a focus on individual preferences and personal fulfillment. This movement reached a height during the "values clarification" movement of the 1960s which taught no morality at all. The result of this is "anomie," a lost sense of self and right or wrong and feeling of being detached from other people and the world.
One of the most hopeful sections of the book talks about Martin Seligman's work on positive psychology, and the rediscovery of virtue. Seligman and Chris Peterson researched wisdom traditions and found that these six virtues are common across almost all cultures: (1) Wisdom; (2) Courage; (3) Humanity; (4) Justice; (5) Temperance; (6) Transcendence. These six categories serve to organize 24 character traits. (You can find the complete list on Wikipedia.) The conclusion is that you should work to cultivate your strengths, not your weaknesses. This area of study is a great breakthrough after 100 years of the psychological study of mental illness.
There were also many insightful nuggets I found in the excellent book, including:
- How oxytocin, cortisols and endorphins effect health and behavior.
- Haidt's belief that the chief causes of evil are moral idealism and high self-esteem.
- Letting off steam makes you angrier, not calmer.
- Wisdom is the ability to adapt, shape the environment, and know when to move to new environments.
- Pleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them.
- Social constraints enhance happiness; total freedom decreases happiness (an insight seconded in "The Paradox of Choice").
- Trauma has benefits in that it shows how much adversity you can cope with. It also filters out false friends and changes priorities and philosophies toward the present.
- Passionate love cannot last; companionate love is what lasts.
- Haidt sees two types of diversity, demographic and moral.
- The three major dimensions of social relationships are liking, status and morality/ transcendence. Coherence across these spectrums leads to happiness.
- The six basic emotions that can be read on the face include joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust and surprise.
- Happiness often results from the collective elevation in a church or political rally.
- The three levels of work are a job, a career and a calling. The more autonomy at work, the more happiness.
- Vital engagement in the world leads to love made visible, which is a sign of deep happiness.
- Work that does good for others and leads to income and recognition will enhance happiness.
- Apostates who try to leave a group and traitors who undermine a group are subject to atrocities.
- Group chanting can lead to mystical experiences, which provide a sense of spiritual connection that leads to happiness.
- Eastern views and conservative politics focus on the collective, while Western views and liberal politics tend to focus on the individual.
- Volunteerism increases happiness, and service learning in schools reduces dropout rates.
This is a brilliant and sweeping narrative, and well worth the read. The cross-disciplinary nature of this work reminds me of EO Wilson's seminal work, Consilience. And parts of this book remind me of one of my favorite books of contemporary philosophy: Status
Anxiety, by Alex de Bouten.
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
First of all, the main hypothesis, that people make decisions with their gut and then use their brains to rationalize those decisions, is well supported. The examples are clear, real, and alive. You'll walk away from the book thinking, there are so many things that I do that I'm completely unaware of.
Secondly, my favorite thing about this book was that it was SO READABLE: it sounds like Jon Haidt is sitting across from you and speaking to you. (For example, you may have heard of the one and two marshmallow studies, but the story-like way that Haidt describes it will really capture your attention). Even the headings and section titles kept my curiosity up: what could that next section be about?
Third, the section on why human beings are hypocrites (ch. 4) is extremely interesting.
Finally, there is so much philosophy and history of psychology interwoven into the hypothesis of the book that you feel like you keep entering a new theatrical stage: one stage after the other, going to the center of a performance. And the best thing is, all the history, etc. is presented as "here is this story that shows why this happens" and "here's this other story."
This book reads like a great conversation with the reader. From the beginning he employs the right balance of simple explanation - such as the central metaphor of the 'Rider and Elephant' (the conscious and autonomous aspects of your mind, respectively) - and deep, nuanced examinations of the ancient ideas and what the light of modern research shows about them.
The chapters are structured to first present a couple of quotes that encapsulate an ancient idea, such as "The Golden Rule" (do unto others...). He explains the ideas, gives some of the ancient context in which they developed (sometimes at very interesting length) and then starts to weave in the nuance and finer detail that modern study has brought to these ideas. He usually frames things in the context of their effect on happiness and other continuums of human state of being (such as spiritual elevation). Haidt is pretty balanced even when he has to point out problems that some of the ancient ideas have. There's never a sense that `science is right' and `the ancients were wrong' in an absolute way. Often he does quite the opposite, he points out what ancient intuition did get right compared to the very unbalanced thinking behind some of the past popular movements within his profession, such as Behaviorism.
Also, Haidt is laugh-out-loud funny a couple of times in the book!
I would encourage anyone to seek out Jonathan Haidt's interviews (the CBC radio program "Tapestry" is a very interesting one - Googling "Haidt Tapestry" will pull it up) as he is also very witty and funny conversationally - hardly surprising considering the ease of flow of his writing.
Although this book isn't a self-help book, I feel I've gotten more practically out of it than most self-help psychology books - and certainly there are ways to apply what you learn here. I believe I've benefited more because I felt so engaged and so hopeful that I now know what `works' and (perhaps more to the point) what doesn't in a clinically demonstrated way. I felt that because the book wasn't trying to change me, I resisted its information much less - it was a pleasure to read and not a `utility' for my life.
I highly recommend it!
Using delightful sparkling prose, Jonathan Haidt has written a meaty and worthwhile book about happiness, emotion and the creation of personal meaning. It is so rare nowadays to find people who can place their work in a broad historical and cultural context. Yet Haidt does just that. Here we have a book in which discussions of the brain rub shoulders with the sayings of the Buddha.
I am sure that nobody is going to agree with everything that he says. But neither would he want us to: he is informing and provoking discussion and understanding. I worry a little about the scientists and writers who try to reduce complex behaviors to neurons and hormones alone, and Jonathan avoids that trap.
This is an insightful book that belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in some of the fundamental problems of living a happy, fulfilled life, and of making a positive contribution to the world.
Very highly recommended.