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

Paul Dolan

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

4.2 (71 ratings)
17 mins
8 key ideas
Audio & text

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.

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. 

Table of Contents

    Happiness By Design
    summarized in 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    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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    Key ideas in Happiness By Design

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    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

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