The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science

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Agent: Chung Winner

Agent Activities: Filmmaker

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Where to Find Him: @chungwinner (Twitter)




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Author(s): Jonathan Haidt

Published: 2006

Report Published: 14th June 2016

QUAKE Magnitude: 9.0 major quake stamp_100x36

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Field Survey

Happiness Hypothesis by social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt, paints an image of happiness that is equally dependent on the quality of our inner and outer lives. Much of this book looks at the concept of contentment through the lens of evolutionary psychology, given that humans evolved into ultra-social creatures who feel the need to belong, but who follow the law of reciprocity: the idea of returning a favor with favor, and insult for insult. No wonder the world is in turmoil–we’re born with genes that cry out: “an eye for an eye!”

In this book, Haidt details skills people have developed over time to raise their standard happiness set points, such as gratitude, meditation, and cognitive therapy. He also shares insights about which life conditions raise and lower happiness, and even gives us a formula for it!

The Happiness Hypothesis is a book for those QUAKE Book Agents who want to embrace a life of contentment and inner peace, who desire growth and mastery. If you’ve read this far, you might as well click on the link below and purchase the book off Amazon. Why? Because, if you do your life will never be the same again.


“Instead of following Buddhist and Stoic advice to surrender attachments and let events happen, we surround ourselves with goals, hopes, and expectations, and then feel pleasure and pain in relation to our progress.

“You should learn the terrain, pick a direction, find some good traveling companions, and enjoy the trip, because there may be nothing at the end of the road.”

“Because human beings were shaped by evolutionary processes to pursue success, not happiness, people enthusiastically pursue goals that will help them win prestige in zero-sum competitions. Success in these competitions feels good but gives no lasting pleasure, and it raises the bar for future success.”

QUAKE Moment

It sounded like a wooden board falling and slapping against concrete. When I looked down at my leg and saw my bent thigh, I knew my femur had just snapped in half. It was my third Judo class after nearly a decade away from the martial art. That sparring session was probably the biggest life altering moment in my adult life.

I remember waking up from surgery with an enormous sense of relief. Man was I happy just to be alive! But I knew this feeling was temporary, and so I searched for a way to keep it with me always.

Following the accident, and pouring over the pages of The Happiness Hypothesis, I realized that I was the main cause of my discontent. I was fixated on unhealthy habits like social comparisons and competition, and neglected the things that give lasting joy: a positive perspective, the fostering of good relationships, and a love of learning and growth. To use the old but true cliché, I wasn’t living in the moment. I was waiting for something to come along and make me happy, when I could have been so all along, just by re-evaluating my values and perspective.


In the wake of this book, I have found myself more content with life. My friends have remarked that I’m more positive and easy going. I’m also reconnecting with my family.

Yet, my ambition and pursuit of my life’s mission haven’t waned or diminished in the slightest. Rather, my newfound positivity has emboldened my quest. To quote Viktor Frankl, “success, like happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue and … success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.” I really hope that other Quake Book Field Agents would find the same sense of bliss The Happiness Hypothesis has helped me enjoy.

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