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"The Conquest of Happiness" - B. Russell

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"The Conquest of Happiness" - B. Russell

Postby Bela_Bartok » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:40 pm

Hi. This is my first post (other than the obligatory introduction to make sure you are not a robot/spammer) and I thought that sharing knowledge of Bertrand Russell's insightful book "The Conquest of Happiness" would be a good place to start.

Written between the World Wars, this book may not appeal to our society on the surface. But keep in mind that Bertrand Russell was one of the most intelligent people who ever lived. As a person with degrees in Mathematics & Physics, his influence is still felt to this day. However, he didn't just sit in the so-called Ivory Tower. He was a strong advocate of human rights and progress in society. This book, aside from references to things like street-cars, is still far ahead of most modern psychological tomes IMO.

In fact, within the book, there his ideas on how to deal with life and suffering in the "modern world" curiously overlap significantly with the now popular "mindfulness" idea, "radical acceptance" idea, and "cognitive-behavioral" ideas. However, unlike the dogmatic approaches some of those movements espouse, Russell keeps things skeptical, light-hearted, and full of a genuine love of life and for other people. One thing that he also avoids is "moralistic" judgements which have gotten out-of-hand in modern psychology as far as I can discern. By that, I don't mean "morals" as in "not killing people" and such, but rather things like putting excessive guilt on yourself for things you do that society "doesn't approve of". He is clear that this self-imposed guilt is actually a large reason for people's suffering, and is actually quite selfish (as it is done to create an image of a "saint" for others to "revel in").

The book is only 250 pages or so, and is very easy to read, unlike his more famous work "Principles of Mathematics" which doesn't even contain English-language sentences.

I hope to meet some interesting people on this website. Have fun!
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