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The publisher's title for and capsule summary of "The Happiness Hypothesis" doesn't do full justice to the exceptional range of learning, research, and wisdom that combine in this book. It's not pop psychology or a generic self-help book: Haidt is a professor in the Psychology Department at the U. of Virginia, and a leading researcher in the "moral emotions". His working hypothesis is that human moral systems have underpinnings in evolutionary biology, but he's as far from being a reductionist as possible. Instead he believes it's impossible to understand morality, and by extension happiness, without examining their history in human cultures and religions.
Haidt covers a tremendous range of interwoven topics: the history of Western moral philosophy; ideas of virtue and the sacred in Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism; child development and parent-child bonding in relation to the moral emotions; modern neuroscience and the biological foundations of behavior; and the role of trauma and adversity in personal growth. He is especially gifted at explaining things in everyday language, avoiding jargon and carefully defining and illustrating new terminology.
George Wilson's narration is clear and paced appropriately, and he's solid on technical terms, foreign names, and so on. He gets a chance now and then to show his skill in creating voices for extended quotations from Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and William James.
180 of 182 people found this review helpful
It's not really a self help book at all, it's more like a guide to the human brain, if you ever wonder why you think you are so much different then everybody else, this book will explain why you are not and why you are almost exactly like the rest of us, it also tells us what brain functions make us believe in religion, and so much more, I rate this book a must read, even if you have no knowledge about brain anatomy and functions.
The book offers some insight into early philosophy and it draws parallels to modern brain research, but that part is just publicity.
Other must read books Phantoms in the brain Ramachandran, origin of species Darwin
66 of 70 people found this review helpful
I loved this audiobook. Though it is long, it is never boring and I found myself hanging on for the next passage. This marries neuroscience, psychology and spiritual teachings from many sources. It is full of Eureka moments where I learned the how and why and the processes whereby we make decisions and judgments. I particularly liked the discussion of unconscious decision making. Very highly recommended
26 of 26 people found this review helpful
A wonderful insight into what it is to be human. The best guide on how to achieve happiness that I have ever read, and it really breaks new ground in that it is based on good science. This is not pop-psych motivational book, it provides the reader with an understanding of how the brain works, and how to apply this knowledge to the pursuit of happiness. Be warned - this book will challenge your current beliefs especially your confidence that you see the naked truth about anything...
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by Jonathan Haidt or narrated by George K. Wilson?
I'd definitely try another book written by Jonathan Haidt, but never one narrated by George K. Wilson. These 'professional' narrators are horrendous! They read with no feeling for the material, and often their voices are over-polished and insufferable to listen to.
Has The Happiness Hypothesis put you off other books in this genre?
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of George K. Wilson?
Jonathan Haidt. Having listened to quite a few audiobooks now, I've found that the author is the best person to read their own work.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Any additional comments?
Unless the non-author narrator is exceptional in the sample audio, this is the last time I listen to a book not read by the author him/herself.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
changed my perspective on politics and religion in a single chapter. helped me understand an element of humanity I previously ignored