How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life Book Summary - How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life Book explained in key points
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How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life summary

Russ Roberts

An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness

4.1 (43 ratings)
10 mins

Brief summary

"How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life" by Russ Roberts is a self-help book based on the ideas of Adam Smith. It provides insights on how to live a fulfilling and meaningful life through the pursuit of virtue and self-improvement.

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    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life
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    Humans are capable of behaving morally despite being inherently selfish.

    Imagine learning that an earthquake in a distant land caused millions to die. And now, imagine learning that your little finger needs to be amputated due to a severe infection. Which scenario would bother you more, the deaths of millions or the loss of your pinkie? Well, although you might want to tell yourself otherwise, you’d probably care more about the amputation of your little finger than the death of a stranger.

    Philosopher Adam Smith used the term self love to describe this tendency. Self love refers to the notion that humans are inherently selfish, that we can’t help placing our lives and interests above everything else.

    Although self love is entrenched in human nature, Smith claimed it had limits. After all, would you actually sacrifice other people’s lives just to save your little finger?

    Of course not! As Smith argued, anyone with a conscience would consider that deal unacceptable. And yet, if we’re fundamentally selfish, why are there such clear limits to our self-interest?

    According to Smith, our conscience functions like an internal observer who observes and judges our actions, thus guiding us and discouraging immoral behavior. In other words, this observer pushes us to act honorably.

    So if you want to purposefully improve your behavior, you’ll pay close attention to this spectator; that way you’ll see where and how your actions are unsatisfactory.

    For instance, when the author started doing podcasts, he had a habit of talking way too much and not letting his guests speak. But after listeners complained about his excessive chattiness, the author tapped into his internal observer and listened to the show from another person’s perspective. And when he realized that the listeners were right, he changed his attitude and made an effort to give his guests more time. He ultimately improved his podcast because he listened to his internal observer.

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    What is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life about?

    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life revives the work of the influential economist and philosopher, Adam Smith – especially his groundbreaking book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. The author applies Smith’s ideas to modern life, showing us how to become happier and more virtuous people, improving our relationships with those around us and ultimately even changing the world!

    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life Review

    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life (2014) is a thought-provoking book that explores Adam Smith's insights and how they can be applied to modern life. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents practical wisdom from the father of economics, offering valuable tools for personal and professional success.
    • The book combines history, philosophy, and self-help, making it a unique and fascinating read that goes beyond traditional economic theory.
    • With its engaging narrative and relatable examples, the book ensures that the exploration of economic principles is not only informative but also enjoyable.

    Best quote from How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool. – Richard Feynman

    —Russ Roberts
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    Who should read How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life?

    • Anyone who wants to find a path to fulfillment and happiness
    • Anyone who wants to apply classic philosophy to their own life
    • Anyone who thinks Adam Smith was just an economist

    About the Author

    Russ Roberts is a research fellow at Stanford and author of several books on economics including The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity. He hosts the award-winning weekly podcast EconTalk.

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    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life FAQs 

    What is the main message of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life?

    The main message of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life is that applying the principles of Adam Smith's philosophy can lead to a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

    How long does it take to read How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life?

    The reading time for How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life can vary. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life is a worthwhile read as it provides insights into applying economic ideas to improve various aspects of our lives.

    Who is the author of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life?

    The author of How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life is Russ Roberts.

    What to read after How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
    • The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith
    • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and comments by Jason Zweig
    • Super Human by Dave Asprey
    • Mindset by Carol Dweck
    • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
    • Deep Work by Cal Newport
    • The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber
    • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    • The Leader In You by Dale Carnegie