Happiness & Inspiration


I like to keep a special place in my library for happiness and inspiration. The study of happiness is called positive psychology and is relatively recent. This contrasts with most of clinical psychology which is focused on disease.

  • The book The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt is a summary of the key wisdom and psychological research(1)The psychology research Jonathan Haidt uses is somewhat out of date due to the reproducibility crisis. on happiness. The big point of the book is that psychology is generally obsessed with resolving problems rather than helping you live better. Religion does a better job of the complex problem of how to live a good life.
  • I took Yale’s Happiness Class, the most popular class ever given at the University. Here are my key takeaways from the online class.
  • According to stress researcher Robert Sapolsky, research says that the following things lower our stress and make us happier. As a side fact, you get a lot more benefits if you enjoy doing these things and aren’t forced to do them:
    • Exercise: Do 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. It’ll make your heart and brain work better as well as reduce your stress levels.
    • Meditate: Meditation lowers your blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels. It also lets you put stressors in perspective.
    • Friends and Family: Having friends and family you love and trust helps keep us calm.
    • Sleep: The human body needs 7-9 hours of sleep. Less than this causes significant stress on the body.
  • Jonathan Rausch wrote a great book called The Happiness Curve which explains the unhappiness of mid-life (sometimes called a mid-life crisis) and how it goes away. He has a good summary of the book in The Atlantic.
  • Choose the most respectful interpretation. It’s always best to assume people are doing the best that they can. For example, if someone cuts you off on the highway, it’s best to assume that they REALLY needed to get somewhere fast—instead of holding on to the anger.



  • Some Good News is John Krasinski’s good news from around the world including a surprise rendition of Hamilton for a young girl who couldn’t go.

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Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The psychology research Jonathan Haidt uses is somewhat out of date due to the reproducibility crisis.