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3 books on happiness I read in 2009, I would recommend you

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3 books on happiness I read in 2009, I would recommend you

Post by qnn on Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:24 am

It's the end of the year 2009 and it's time to make some conclusions. It's been a crazy year for me, but I will report about that in another topic.

In this topic I will discuss three books I read in 2009 that I think I learned most from. The general theme of my personal development this year was everything related to state of happiness.

See, I have been bugged by the state of happiness for a very long time. I had so many questions that needed answering. Wouldn't it feel wonderful to feel happy all the time? What makes us happy and why aren't we happy all the time. Why is it that we feel happy, medically speaking? Well... The area of happiness is actually more researched than you might think of and there is a pretty good understanding of what makes one human being genuinely happy. There is special area in psychology called 'Positive Psychology' that covers exactly this topic.

So naturally, the first logical thing for me was to grab a book that covers the basics of psychology. For me it was "Atkinson and Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology". It's targeted to students who are thinking of studding psychology and focuses on basics without much scientific mumbo-jumbo. It's really nice book and it covers all aspects of psychology and is easy to understand and fun to ready. This book specifically isn't a must, but is highly recommended and makes the two following books and concepts in discussed in them more understandable. Also any other book that covers the basics of psychology would do as well.

The next book on the menu is "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert:

This is fascinating book that shows how terribly wrong can we be about past events and predicting our emotional states in future. It's well written, quirky and full of facts and based on real scientific data. It really made me reanalyze my perception of major past life events and making more realistic expectations about the future.

I suggest you to read the summary and reviews on Amazon yourself:

And here is Daniel Gilbert at TED conference, giving the lecture on the same topics he discusses in the book:

The third book on the menu is "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

This book is more hard core, so to say. It's longer, in small typeface and feels more scientific. Nevertheless it is interesting reading and probably the best book on happiness out there. It covers what really makes us happy and the science behind it. Armed with the information you accumulate from this book you will be guaranteed not to feel so confused about the happiness anymore. After reading this book happiness doesn't seem like some ungraspable concept.

I suggest you to read the summary and reviews on Amazon yourself:

And here is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at TED conference, giving the lecture on the same topics he discusses in the book:

Finally I would like to discuss "4-Hour Workweek" by Timothy Ferriss.

I have read this book twice, between gap of about 5 months, and got totally different meaning out of it each time. I guess it shows how fast your perception can change towards some ideas and how you interpret things based on how much life-knowledge you have.

To be honest, I really don't like Timothy Ferriss that much and was really reluctant to recommend his book and blog. I find him the exact match to cheesy online-marketing kind of stereotype. Most of what he writes in his book and blog is exaggerated and overly illustrated utopian dream. It feels like this guy has thousands of good ideas but no words and logic to connect the dots. People like to read about great future and positive stuff and that's what sells. People dream that they can achieve it by following some fixed step by step guide. What this book produces is thousands of homan-robots who in good faith try to copy him and fail miserably without understanding why. In the end I got the feeling that he wrote the book purely for the money.

However, although he is not much of a writer and no matter how unprofessionally the book is marketed, this guy has stepped on something. I read the book again, because I felt that I might have gotten wrong perspective on his ideas. This time keeping in mind the knowledge that I had accumulated from the previous 2 books.

Then I figured, his book doesn't have to do so much making money and living high life, but rather it inspires you to take action, challenge the norms of society and do what you feel is right and drop the stuff you don't like. If you have read the previous two books on happiness, I think you can relate to him on totally different level...

So, can I say that I am constantly happy after reading these books? Of course not, but at least now I am able to rationally analyze the reasons of my happiness or unhappiness and take corrective action if needed. I am no longer frustrated over not understanding the workings of happiness.

I must warn you though, these books are not available as eBooks so you have to spend some money and get them on paperback. They are however, totally worth the money.

So, if anybody has read these books or decides to read them, I would like to hear some feedback.
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