Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine

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Random House, Sep 22, 2016 - Self-Help - 576 pages


‘Deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love’
Alain de Botton

Everyone says they want to be happy. But that's much more easily said than done. What does being happy actually mean? And how do you even know when you feel it?

In Happy Derren Brown explores changing concepts of happiness - from the surprisingly modern wisdom of the Stoics and Epicureans in classical times right up until today, when the self-help industry has attempted to claim happiness as its own. He shows how many of self-help’s suggested routes to happiness and success – such as positive thinking, self-belief and setting goals – can be disastrous to follow and, indeed, actually cause anxiety.

Happy aims to reclaim happiness and to enable us to appreciate the good things in life, in all their transient glory. By taking control of the stories we tell ourselves, by remembering that ‘everything’s fine’ even when it might not feel that way, we can allow ourselves to flourish and to live more happily.


"Crammed with wisdom and insight . . . I'm going to recommend it to everyone I know" Stephen Fry
"Witty, useful and beautifully written" The Sunday Times
"A wonderfully evocative - and enjoyable - book" A.C. Grayling


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its ok, not great

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This is a subtle and clever criticism of Stoic philosophy and its unhealthy offspring. Page 20 brings up the central belief of stoicism that we are to blame for our negative feelings about events. Perhaps not in those direct words but Derren eventually explains, "This mite of ancient wisdom is the source of many modern-day self-help and therapeutic methods of varying substance. . ." He spends the majority of the book going through the different methods. Again, it may seem like an endorsement but it turns out to be a criticism. The explanations of Epictetus, Schopenhauer, NLP, CBT and many other methods leaves the reader with nagging questions. It's not until the last chapter that Derren asks us to consider our lingering doubt about Stoicism. The last pages repeatedly ask why we run from negative emotions that may pull our attention to important issues. This is more in line with the beginning of the book's admonition to push back against the scripts life hands us. And for the kind advice to challenge and push and question, I will always love Derren Brown.  


Once Upon a Time
The Problem With Being Positive
The Considered Life
A Very Brief History of Happiness
The Stoic Building Blocks
Relinquishing Control
Applying Stoic Methods
1 Fame
After Death
Fearing Death
How to Die Well
And in the End

Anger and Hurt

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About the author (2016)

Derren began his UK television career in December 2000 with a series of specials called Mind Control. Since redefining the genre of magic for intelligent, modern audiences, he has become synonymous with the art of psychological manipulation. His TV shows have become must-see events. Amongst a varied and notorious career, Derren has played Russian Roulette on live television, convinced middle-managers to commit an armed robbery in the street, led the nation in a sťance, stuck viewers to their sofas, successfully predicted the National Lottery, motivated a shy man to land a packed passenger plane at 30,000 feet, exposed psychic and faith-healing charlatans, and hypnotised a man to assassinate Stephen Fry. On top of this he tours the UK every year with a sell-out stage show.

He has published four books: Tricks of the Mind, Confessions of a Conjuror, Happy and a book of his caricatures, Portraits.