I picked up Tal Ben – Shahar’s Happier after finishing reading Shawn Achor’s The Happier Advantage and I really enjoyed this book as well. In my mind, these two books complement each other well, and you should read them both, but the order perhaps doesn’t matter as much.
Positive psychology is a relatively new field, and in the past I’ve also read Martin Seligman’s works, and I feel everyone should familiarize themselves with positive psychology because of course happiness is relevant to everyone, and it is not something we generally think about in our day to day lives.
The name Happier signifies that when you are thinking about happiness you should think of it is as something in a continuum, and not something that can be achieved and be done with.
At the beginning of the book Tal Ben – Shahar draws out a quadrant of four different types of people – the rat racer – someone who thinks that if he gets this job then he will be happy, or if he buys that house then he’ll be happy. Essentially a person who thinks achieving something in the future will make him happier at that time. Then there is the hedonist who’s maximizing pleasure today, the nihilist who has somewhat given up on life, and the truly happy person who is doing something that makes him happy in the moment, and will add to his happiness in the future as well.
Personally, I relate very closely to the rat – racer in all honesty, and this is something I have to work on, and learn to live in the moment, find things that make me happy in the present, have meaning for me, and as a result are fulfilling to me, and also will lead me to have a happier future.
The book goes quite deep into how you can find such things for yourself, and I highly recommend the exercises mentioned there.
The other concept that resonated quite well with me was the concept that for most people they can look at their work in three different ways – as a job, a career or a calling. A job is something that you do just to earn money today, a career is when you look at it as a slightly longer term thing in terms of progression, money, titles etc. and there again the motivation is extrinsic. Finally, there’s the calling where you are doing something because of internal motivation, and because you truly love doing it. Here again, I’m at the stage where my work is a career, and I must work towards making it a calling.
All in all, I really loved this book, and I highly recommend that you read or at least familiarize with the ideas of positive psychology.