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Happiness Theory – Happiness: Lessons from a New Science

Perhaps happiness theory can explain a paradox. Whilst we’re getting richer, healthier and have more possessions than ever before, why are we no happier? In his excellent book ‘Happinesss’, Richard Layard uses lessons from a new science to give us pause for thought. In an unusual departure from many books on happiness, Layard’s thought-provoking book is written from the perspective of a leading economist.

Layard builds his book around the paradox he sees in modern life. Most people want more income and strive for it. Yet, even as our societies become richer, people are not getting any happier. Layard’s book is a readable work, challenging us to think how we, both as individuals and as a society, can really become happier.

Layard’s book persuasively explains happiness theory, but does something else, arguably of much more value. Happiness: Lessons from a New Science is also a call to action. Structured in two sections, the book is full of practical ideas. The first section articulates the paradox while the second suggests what can be done to address it.

To do this he explores some deeper questions, such as:

  • What are the main causes of happiness – and which of them matter most?
  • What should we do differently – to live more happily?
  • Does helping others make us happier?
  • Does success count – or just being more successful than others?

The book reveals Layard’s 7 factors which most affect happiness:

  1. Family relationships
  2. Financial situation
  3. Work
  4. Community and friends
  5. Health
  6. Personal freedom
  7. Personal values

In Layards own words:

“We desperately need a concept of the common good. I can think of no nobler goal than to pursue the greatest happiness of all – counting every person.”
<h3>Some Suggestions to Get the Most From This Book.</h3>

You will find that we have used some of Richard Layard’s ideas throughout the site. You can read more in our article Stress Management Tip: Know when Enough is Enough. Or alternatively see Layard’s straightforward definition of happiness in our article which introduces several definitions from leading thinkers. We also end our collection of happiness quotes with what Layard calls “pretty good advice”….



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