Happiness By Design Book Summary - Happiness By Design Book explained in key points
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Happiness By Design summary

Change What You Do, Not How You Think / Finding Pleasure And Purpose In Everyday Life

4.2 (84 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

Happiness By Design by Paul Dolan is a self-help book that explores the science of happiness and how we can design our lives to experience more of it. It introduces the concept of "pleasure" versus "purpose" and offers practical insights for finding joy and fulfillment.

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    Happiness By Design
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 8

    You are happiest when you experience your daily activities as pleasant and purposeful.

    Imagine being forced to spend the rest of your life watching your favorite comedy show. Would you really be happy? Chances are that eventually you’ll feel there’s not much point to your life. In the end, you might as well have spent your whole life working instead.

    But why is this exactly? Well, happiness isn’t just caused by joy, but by feeling that what you’re doing has some purpose. In order to be happy, you need to experience a combination of joy as well as meaning in your activities.

    Every day, your life consists of a mix of activities that you tend to regard as pleasurable or purposeful. For example, catching up on your favorite TV show is pleasurable, while creating a presentation for your work is purposeful.  

    In order to get the most out of your day, it’s best to alternate pleasurable activities with purposeful ones. For instance, at work, you can consciously integrate “pleasure” breaks into your day, like having a nice lunch and a chat with a colleague, or taking a short afternoon walk.

    Interestingly, whether you prefer to have more pleasure or more purpose in your daily life largely depends on your personality.

    There is no one-size-fits-all, so find the mix of work and play that suits you best. You might be more of a “pleasure machine,” requiring more fun to be happy , or you could be a “purpose engine” valuing your work more than your downtime.

    Lastly, happiness is about feeling good in the moment. Being merely satisfied with your life situation may not indicate that you are happy every day, as happiness is more about spontaneous emotion than contemplating your general situation.

    To feel happier, then, you should focus on actively experiencing pleasure and purpose in your daily activities.

    In the next blinks, we’ll see why it’s also vitally important to focus consciously on these activities.

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    What is Happiness By Design about?

    Drawing from his own behavioral research and economist experience, Dolan explains how happiness arises and how we experience it in our everyday lives. He exposes some of the traps we fall into when trying to be happier and demonstrates some simple tools for adapting your environment to feel happier without having to radically change who you are and what you think.

    Happiness By Design Review

    Happiness By Design (2014) is a thought-provoking book that explores the science behind what truly makes us happy and how we can design our lives for more happiness. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers practical strategies based on scientific research, allowing readers to actively shape their own happiness by making intentional choices.
    • With its emphasis on the importance of our surroundings and behaviors, the book provides a fresh perspective on happiness, challenging conventional ideas.
    • Through a combination of real-life examples and psychological insights, the book is engaging and relatable, making the topic of happiness accessible to everyone.

    Best quote from Happiness By Design

    You are happiest when you have a balance between pleasure and purpose that works best for you.

    —Paul Dolan
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    Who should read Happiness By Design?

    • Anyone who wants to understand what happiness really is
    • Anyone who is fed up with not reaching their goals
    • Anyone who needs easier and faster solutions on how to feel better instantly

    About the Author

    Paul Dolan is a Professor of Behavioural Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science and is acclaimed for his extensive research on the connection between happiness, well-being and behavior. He advises both US and UK government on public policies regarding health care and economy. 

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    Happiness By Design FAQs 

    What is the main message of Happiness By Design?

    Design your life to maximize happiness and satisfaction.

    How long does it take to read Happiness By Design?

    Reading time varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Happiness By Design a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Happiness By Design is definitely worth reading. It offers practical insights to boost happiness.

    Who is the author of Happiness By Design?

    The author of Happiness By Design is Paul Dolan.

    What to read after Happiness By Design?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Happiness By Design, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Happiness by Richard Layard
    • Happy Ever After by Paul Dolan
    • Slow Productivity by Cal Newport
    • The Humor Habit by Paul Osincup
    • The Hunger Habit by Judson Brewer
    • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    • Purpose by Samuel T. Wilkinson
    • As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
    • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk