What exactly is happiness? Can we measure it? Why are some people happy and others not? And is there a drug that could eliminate all unhappiness? People all over the world, and throughout the ages, have thought about happiness, argued about its nature, and, most of all, desired it. But why do we have such a strong instinct to pursue happiness? And if happiness is good in itself, why haven't we simply evolved to be happier? Daniel Nettle uses the results of the latest psychological studies to ask what makes people happy and unhappy, what happiness really is, and to examine our urge to achieve it. Along the way we look at brain systems, at mind-altering drugs, and how happiness is now marketed to us as a commodity. Nettle concludes that while it may be unrealistic to expect lasting happiness, our evolved tendency to seek happiness drives us to achieve much that is worthwhile in itself. What is more, it seems to be not your particular circumstances that define whether you are happy so much as your attitude towards life. Happiness gives us the latest scientific insights into the nature of our feelings of well-being, and what these imply for how we might live our lives.
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Published:27 July 2006
Genre:Cognition & cognitive psychology
Secondary Genre:Physiological & neuro-psychology, biopsychology, Popular science, Popular medicine & health
Illustrations:10 halftones and figures
Daniel Nettle is Lecturer in Psychology at University of Newcastle. His publications include Vanishing Voices (with Suzanne Romaine), Linguistic Diversity, and Strong Imagination: Madness, Creativity, and Human Nature. He runs the psychological research website www.psychresearch.org.uk. Vanishing Voices was winner of the BAAL prize for 2001, and was described by The New Yorker as 'a superb study of endangered languages'. Strong Imagination was described as 'a fascinating, pithy little book' (Sunday Times), giving 'a critical survey of current psychiatric knowledge that is as good an overview as is available from any source' (Times Literary Supplement).