Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine
‘Deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love’
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.
PRAISE FOR HAPPY:
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its ok, not great
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.
The Problem With Being Positive
The Considered Life
A Very Brief History of Happiness
The Stoic Building Blocks
Applying Stoic Methods
How to Die Well
And in the End
Anger and Hurt