If You're so Smart, Why Aren't You Happy?

  • by Raj Raghunathan
  • Narrated by Raj Raghunathan
  • 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The first book by the creator of COURSERA®'s most popular online course in 2015, "A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment"
Could the same traits that drive your career success also be keeping you from being happier?
Fifteen years after getting his MBA, Raj Raghunathan spent some time with his old classmates. He noticed that though they'd all done well, there didn't appear to be much correlation between their academic success and career success. What Raj found even more curious was the even smaller correlation between career success and what he calls life success. The greater the career success, the more unhappy, out of shape, harried, and distracted his friends were.
If intelligence helps with decision making, smart people should naturally make better life choices. So why are so many of the smartest, brightest, most successful people profoundly unhappy? Raj set out to find an answer to this problem and extensively researched the happiness of not just students and businesspeople but also stay-at-home-parents, lawyers, and artists, among others.
If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? takes listeners on a fun and meaningful tour of the best research available on how some of the very determinants of success may also come to deflate happiness. Raghunathan explores the seven most common inclinations that successful people need to overcome and the seven habits they should adopt instead. Among his surprising findings:


The correlation between wealth and happiness is much smaller than you'd expect it to be
Generosity is not only a key to happiness but a determining factor of long-term success
Appreciating uncertainty, rather than seeking full control of outcomes, is necessary for happiness

If You're so Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? will give you a powerful new perspective on your work, personal goals, and relationships, whether you're already successful or just starting out.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Lives Up to Its Title

"If You're So Smart" is a professional spin on the time-honored question of finding happiness. Dr. Raj comes from a business background and asked this question of himself and his students several years ago, leading him to write this book.

IYSS does excellent justice to this question, with material largely from mindfulness practice and academic psychology. Dr. Raj outlines seven happiness "sins" and the complementary remediating "habits" (detailed notes below). My most beneficial takeaway is the concept of passionate processes but dispassionate end results, which has had an immediate positive impact on some of the stresses I face in my career and personal life.

Clearly a lot of effort went into this title, from the academic research to the online Coursera curriculum to the happysmarts.com website with numerous reference materials for the reader. Dr. Raj narrates his own title--indeed he has a subcontinent accent and the written work could use further editing, but for the majority of the read I found this unobtrusive. I find self-narration adds a level of sincerity to a title like this. Dr. Raj's effort yielded an engaging read that leaves the reader with plenty of food for thought. IYSS is worth the credit--enjoy.

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- Sin 1: Devaluing happiness (for example: trading it away for frugality).
- Habit 1: Prioritize--but do not pursue--happiness. Don't chase happiness the way insomniacs chase sleep. Be happy with what you have ("harmony/abundance"), and you can deal with whatever comes your way.
- Sin 2: Chasing superiority. Human adaptation diminishes happiness via superiority over time.
- Habit 2: Pursue flow. Identify your talents and what you enjoy doing. Sacrifice short-term happiness when probability of long-term flow goes up.
- Sin 3: Desperation for love.
- Habit 3: The need to love and give.
- Sin 4: The need to be overly controlling. It's why driving feels safer than flying (though statistics clearly state that it's not) It's why we can't book the post-bar vacation until we know the bar results. When obsessed with goals, the goals control you. Time abundance is a perception: for example, stress as a function of hourly wage.
- Habit 4: Gaining internal control. Never blame someone else for your own unhappiness. It's okay to let your emotions run free, so long as you're consciously doing so. You can still keep others accountable for your actions. External control is often a projection of the lack of internal control. Labeling feelings lowers their intensity.
- Sin 5: distrusting others.
- Habit 5: Exercise smart trust. Practice forgiveness and keeping in mind the perspective of other people. Builds trust with others over time.
- Sin 6: Passionate to indifferent pursuit of passions. Worrying about the goal more than the process (or worse, not caring about the work at all.)
- Habit 6. Focus on processes, not results. Do everything it takes to pursue a goal, but care not if the the final result is not as desired (understanding that sometimes you cannot control everything).
- Sin 7: Allowing your focus to be pulled and distracted in all directions, worrying about the past and future, something which modern technologies enable.
- Habit 7: Maintaining presence. There's nothing better you can do than focus on the here and now.
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- Rich

But before I write this review ...

What made the experience of listening to If You're so Smart, Why Aren't You Happy? the most enjoyable?

The book's content is fantastic but the organization is horrible. Raj drifts into tangents every few minutes. He must have said, "but before I talk about X, let me ..." about 75 times in the book. This would be such a better book if someone could re-write it in a straight-forward, organized manner! I want to recommend it for the content, but hesitate to do so because I know most people won't enjoy the frustrating narrative.Raj self-narrated this audio book. Usually I love when authors self-narrate but his accent is very strong and required my absolute focus just to interpret (even at 1.0x speed).


What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Best parts, great content on understanding happiness. Worst parts, trying to understand Raj's accent and follow his narrative.


What about Raj Raghunathan’s performance did you like?

Actually did not like it.


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- mmmatt!

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-26-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio