The Happiness Hypothesis is definitely worth reading.
As Jonathan Haidt notes:
This is a book about ten Great Ideas. Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world’s civilizations - to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives. It is a book about how to construct a life of virtue, happiness, fulfillment, and meaning.
Without further ado, here are some of my favorite quotes from this wonderful read:
- Buddha said, “Our life is the creation of our mind.”
- If Passion drives, let Reason hold the Reins. —BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
- This finding, that people will readily fabricate reasons to explain their own behavior, is called “confabulation.”
- The whole universe is change and life itself is but what you deem it. —MARCUS AURELIUS
- What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. —BUDDHA
- Adverse fortune is more beneficial than good fortune; the latter only makes men greedy for more, but adversity makes them strong.
- “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
- “the only true voyage . . . would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes.”
- They want the “good guys” freed by any means, and the “bad guys” convicted by any means. It is thus not surprising that the administration of George W. Bush consistently argues that extra-judicial killings, indefinite imprisonment without trial, and harsh physical treatment of prisoners are legal and proper steps in fighting the Manichaean “war on terror.”
- “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun.”
- Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (ECCLESIASTES 2:11)
- Variety is the spice of life because it is the natural enemy of adaptation.
- Activities connect us to others; objects often separate us.
- Even a future justice of the U.S. Supreme Court—a body devoted to reason—issued this opinion: “I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.” (OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR., 1884)
- When heaven is about to confer a great responsibility on any man, it will exercise his mind with suffering, subject his sinews and bones to hard work, expose his body to hunger, put him to poverty, place obstacles in the paths of his deeds, so as to stimulate his mind, harden his nature, and improve wherever he is incompetent.
- “This is my moment to sing the aria. I don’t want to, I don’t want to have this chance, but it’s here now, and what am I going to do about it? Am I going to rise to the occasion?”
- “The person who has had more experience of hardships can stand more firmly in the face of problems than the person who has never experienced suffering. From this angle, then, some suffering can be a good lesson for life.”
- A woman in the study, whose partner had died of cancer, explained: “[The loss] enhanced my relationship with other people because I realize that time is so important, and you can waste so much effort on small, insignificant events or feelings.”
- Psychologists often approach personality by measuring basic traits such as the “big five”: neuroticism, extroversion, openness to new experiences, agreeableness (warmth/niceness), and conscientiousness.15 These traits are facts about the elephant, about a person’s automatic reactions to various situations. They are fairly similar between identical twins reared apart, indicating that they are influenced in part by genes, although they are also influenced by changes in the conditions of one’s life or the roles one plays, such as becoming a parent.16 But psychologist Dan McAdams has suggested that personality really has three levels…
- The third level of personality is that of the “life story.” Human beings in every culture are fascinated by stories; we create them wherever we can. (See those seven stars up there? They are seven sisters who once . . . ) It’s no different with our own lives. We can’t stop ourselves from creating what McAdams describes as an “evolving story that integrates a reconstructed past, perceived present, and anticipated future into a coherent and vitalizing life myth.”18
- Although the lowest level of personality is mostly about the elephant, the life story is written primarily by the rider. You create your story in consciousness as you interpret your own behavior, and as you listen to other people’s thoughts about you. The life story is not the work of a historian—remember that the rider has no access to the real causes of your behavior; it is more like a work of historical fiction that makes plenty of references to real events and connects them by dramatizations and interpretations that might or might not be true to the spirit of what happened.
- Adversity may be necessary for growth because it forces you to stop speeding along the road of life, allowing you to notice the paths that were branching off all along, and to think about where you really want to end up.