The Happiness Hypothesis
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Advance Praise for The Happiness Hypothesis


“The Happiness Hypothesis is a wonderful and nuanced book that provides deep insight into the some of the most important questions in life--Why are we here?  What kind of life should we lead?  What paths lead to happiness?  From the ancient philosophers to cutting edge scientists, Haidt weaves a tapestry of the best and the brightest.  His highly original work on elevation and awe--two long-neglected emotions--adds a new weave to that tapestry.  A truly inspiring book." 
-- David M. Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire:  Strategies of Human Mating

“In our quest for happiness, we must find a balance between modern science and ancient wisdom, between East and West, and between ‘left brain’ and ‘right brain.’ Jon Haidt has struck that balance perfectly, and in doing so has given us the most brilliant and lucid analysis of virtue and well-being in the entire literature of positive psychology.  For the reader who seeks to understand happiness, my advice is: Begin with Haidt.”
Martin E. P. Seligman, Director, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness

“It would be something of an exaggeration to say that Jonathan Haidt has found the final answer to happiness, but he has come as close as any other writer of our times. Every page of his book provides gems of insight about the good life and where to look for it. Anyone who is interested in human nature and its potential must read this book.
--William Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence and author of The Moral Child



“Jonathan Haidt leaves no doubt about the importance of emotion in the creation of personal meaning.  This is a delightful and courageous book.”
Antonio Damasio, author of Looking for Spinoza

“Should we live our lives by age-old wisdom or the latest discoveries?  Haidt gives us the luxury of not having to choose, bringing together both sources of insight in this sparkling investigation into the psychology of life and happiness.”
-- Daniel Wegner, author of The Illusion of Conscious Will

"This fresh and original book goes to the heart of what people have found out about happiness, across cultures and times. Enjoyable, important, and eminently readable."
-- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of FLOW

"An intellectual tour de force that weaves into one fabric wisdom that is ancient and modern, religious and scientific, Eastern and Western, liberal and conservative—all with the aim of pointing us to a more meaningful, moral, and satisfying life.”
David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, author of Intuition: Its Powers and Perils

“In this beautifully written book, Jonathan Haidt shows us the deep connection that exists between cutting-edge psychological research and the wisdom of the ancients.  It is inspiring to see how much modern psychology informs life's most central and persistent questions
Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less


Full Length Reviews

Review in The Times of London: "riveting... the most humane, witty and comforting of these three books, brilliantly synthesising ancient cultural insights with modern psychology, and even holding out some faint hope that your happiness, if not your tallness, might be marginally adjustable after all." (Aug. 6, 2006):

Review in The Guardian (U.K.): "A marvellous book... 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." (July 22, 2006)

Review in The Financial Times (July 22, 2006)

Review in Nature: "This is by some margin the most intellectually substantial book to arise from the 'positive psychology' movement."(May 4, 2006)

Review in the Philadelphia Inquirer: "This review has provided a small taste that I hope serves as an appetizer. My recommendation to readers: Dig in and enjoy the feast." (March 27, 2006)

Review in The New Yorker (Actually, this is more an inaccurate summary of chapter 5 than a review. Oprah was much more accurate.) (Feb. 27, 2006).

Library Journal Reviews: Editor's Pick
Psychologist Haidt (Univ. of Virginia) studies morality across cultures and historical periods, bringing prophets and philosophers together with contemporary science to forge a fresh, serious, elevating guide to living everyday life better. Integrating research from Harry Harlow's monkeys and John Bowlby's toddlers and the positive psychology of A.H. Maslow, Martin Seligman, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi with his own, Haidt proves to be a teacher who brings psychology to a new level of relevance for general readers. Finding common ground among cultures and diversity within them, he advocates for balance, empathy, and respect-and against naïve realism as in the myth of pure evil. "Gossip is a policeman and a teacher. Without it there would be chaos and ignorance" sums up several typical pages of discussion girded with apt studies. Happiness comes from relationships, he concludes, but this oversimplifies his method, which presents deep learning enriched with creative thinking, feeling, life experience, and a touch of self-disclosure that makes the reader want to know him. (Reviewed by E. James Lieberman, January 2006)

Summary/Review in Psychology Today: HAIDT'S REMEDY FOR the modern glut of frivolous self-help literature is to review and revise the classics, examining the ideas of thinkers like Plato, Buddha and Jesus in light of modern research into human behavior. Along the way, Haidt, a social psychologist, provides practical advice for parenting, romance, work and coping with the political and cultural divisions currently preoccupying the country. The new science he outlines mostly confirms ancient wisdom, but Haidt finds several instances where the two disagree, suggesting that the surest path to happiness is to embrace and balance both old and new thinking. (January 2006)

Summary/Review in O (Oprah) Magazine (January 2006)

Review in Book Page:“Haidt is a fine guide on this journey between past and present, discussing the current complexities of psychological theory with clarity and humor. . . Haidt’s is an open-minded, robust look at philosophy, psychological fact and spiritual mystery, of scientific rationalism and the unknowable ephemeral – an honest inquiry that concludes that the best life is, perhaps, one lived in the balance of opposites.” (See full review of 6 books on meaning, January 2006)

Review in Seattle Times (January, 2006)

Review in San Francisco Bay Guardian (January 2006). "The Happiness Hypothesis... has more to say about the pleasures and perils, the truths, of being alive than any book I've read in a long time."

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an "elephant" of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual "rider." Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiate—and sometimes critique—with the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's studies into pleasure. And Nietzsche's contention that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger is considered against research into post-traumatic growth. An exponent of the "positive psychology" movement, Haidt also offers practical advice on finding happiness and meaning. Riches don't matter much, he observes, but close relationships, quiet surroundings and short commutes help a lot, while meditation, cognitive psychotherapy and Prozac are equally valid remedies for constitutional unhappiness. Haidt sometimes seems reductionist, but his is an erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues. (November 2005)


Radio Interviews

CBC Radio One (Canada), 4/23/06 (This might be the best one, out of 50 or so)

WMRA Public Radio, Virginia, 12/18/06 (This is a more recent call-in show)

Podcast on (a positive psychology center, recorded 5/4/07)