The happiness hypothesis is a book by Jonathan Haidt. It’s essentially a self help book but what separates it from just about every other self help book is the level of research and range of evidence presented.
If you want to be a mentalist or if you want to achieve anything in life you need to master yourself. You will have to put countless hours into practicing your skills to get to a good level. Take a look at Derren Brown, Dynamo, David Blaine, all these guys have put in time and a tremendous amount of effort to develop a range of skills to make them masters of their craft. Getting your psychology sorted will set you up with the right attitude and understanding to achieve whatever you desire.
Happiness Hypothesis Central Themes
Elephant and Rider
An analogy used throughout the book is that of the elephant and the rider being like your mind. The rider is your conscious mind and the elephant your subconscious. The elephant needs to be trained to do as you ask it, the rider has to guide this great beast and of course it won’t always do what the rider wants!
Your brain evolved in stages with some parts having evolved millions of years ago and some more recently. The automatic parts of your brain evolved in ancient times and it is those areas that need training. This part of the brain is also responsible for gut feelings and intuition. Your subconscious reacts to pain and pleasure, things you like, danger in the fight of flight response.
If you can’t manage to control your mind there are 3 things which have been proved to help get your mind under control: meditation, cognitive therapy and prozac. Meditation is to free you from attachment, congitive therapy is a successful treatment for depression and anxiety and prozac is also for anxiety and depression.
Friends and Relationships are Important for Happiness
Humans are social animals who have evolved to live in groups. That has lead to certain traits amongst humans. Altruism where people help each other has evolved, tit for tat strategies, gratitude, revenge, gossiping, reciprocity have all evolved as a result of humans being social animals. Caring for young babies is also linked with long term happiness and has been proved in experiments with monkies.
Happiness Comes From Both Inside and Outside
If you are to achieve happiness you need to do more than attain enlightenment as presented in Buddhist culture. Setting and achieving goals leads to happiness, as does progress towards them. If you become highly competent at a skill doing an activity where you use it becomes very natural and this state is described as flow. People in a state of flow are very happy. However a spiritual side to life is also important. For instance living a moral life leads to more happiness, not judging people makes you happier too.
This book really is worth seeking out. If you are already familiar with self help materials you will certainly learn a great deal more however its also suitable for an attentive beginner.