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

Matthieu Ricard

A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill

4.4 (195 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

Happiness by Matthieu Ricard is a guide to reaching inner joy and peace through meditation, mindfulness, and positive thinking. It discusses the science of happiness and offers practical exercises to cultivate positive emotions and improve overall well-being.

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    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    Real happiness is a long-term mental state we have to consciously work toward.

    Are you happy? Interestingly, how you answer that question might depend on where you’re from. There’s a wide gap between the Western conception of happiness and the Buddhist idea of true, long-lasting happiness.

    Many Westerners think of happiness as a momentary, fleeting feeling. The intensity and duration depend on circumstances outside their control. A Westerner might feel happy about passing an exam, for instance, or winning a game or having a pleasant encounter with someone.

    Happiness, however, shouldn’t be limited to such fleeting moments. Real, profound happiness is something more: it comes with having a healthy state of mind.

    That means cultivating a mental state unburdened by memories and future plans. The only thing that matters is what’s happening now: the present. So the key to leading a happy and fulfilling life is being at peace with the present.

    This approach to happiness mirrors Buddhist thought, which holds that one can attain a state of profound and sustained well-being when freed of negative emotions. Buddhists denote this state with a Sanskrit word: sukha.

    Happiness is something that can be cultivated, but you do have work at it. Studies have shown that about 25 percent of our potential for happiness is defined by our genes – but that means 75 percent is up to us!

    So you have a lot of power over your happiness. The way you think, live and perceive the world around you has a major impact on your mental well-being.

    All in all, happiness is a matter of interpretation. It may be very difficult to change the world, but changing how you interpret it is manageable.

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    What is Happiness about?

    Happiness (2007) guides you toward a state of true happiness. Many people today falsely believe that happiness comes from ephemeral things like money or fame, but truly long-lasting and profound happiness stems from maintaining a higher sense of well-being. And these blinks will help you do exactly that.

    Happiness Review

    Happiness (2006) by Matthieu Ricard is a thought-provoking exploration of what it means to truly be happy. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a scientifically-backed framework for cultivating happiness, offering practical steps to apply in daily life.
    • Through philosophical insights and personal anecdotes, the book presents a holistic approach to happiness that goes beyond material wealth.
    • Ricard's expertise as a Buddhist monk and trained scientist adds depth and credibility to his arguments, making the book both enlightening and trustworthy.

    Who should read Happiness?

    • Aspiring and practicing Buddhists
    • Anyone interested in psychology
    • Those wanting to lead a happier life

    About the Author

    Matthieu Ricard gave up a career in cellular genetics so that he could move to the Himalayas and become a Buddhist monk. He’s been a close assistant to the Dalai Lama for about 40 years and has written several bestsellers, including Happiness, Why Meditate?, and The Monk and the Philosopher.

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    Happiness FAQs 

    What is the main message of Happiness?

    Happiness teaches us how to cultivate inner joy and find fulfillment in every moment.

    How long does it take to read Happiness?

    The reading time for Happiness varies, but the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Happiness a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Happiness is a profound exploration of happiness and well-being. It offers practical guidance for a more meaningful life.

    Who is the author of Happiness?

    Matthieu Ricard is the author of Happiness.

    What to read after Happiness?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Happiness, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson
    • Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung
    • Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson
    • The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
    • The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
    • The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot
    • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
    • Don't Overthink It by Anne Bogel
    • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
    • Untangle Your Emotions by Jennie Allen