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Happy

Why More or Less Everything Is Absolutely Fine
Narrated by: Derren Brown
Length: 14 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,238 ratings)

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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Happy, written and read by Derren Brown.

Everyone says they want to be happy. But that's much more easily said than done. What does being happy actually mean? And how do you even know when you feel it?

Across the millennia, philosophers have thought long and hard about happiness. They have defined it in many different ways and come up with myriad strategies for living the good life. Drawing on this vast body of work, in Happy Derren Brown explores changing concepts of happiness - from the surprisingly modern wisdom of the Stoics and Epicureans in classical times right up until today, when the self-help industry has attempted to claim happiness as its own. He shows how many of self-help’s suggested routes to happiness and success - such as positive thinking, self-belief and setting goals - can be disastrous to follow and, indeed, actually cause anxiety. 

This brilliant, candid and deeply entertaining audiobook exposes the flaws in these ways of thinking and in return poses challenging but stimulating questions about how we choose to live and the way we think about death.

Happy aims to reclaim happiness and to enable us to appreciate the good things in life, in all their transient glory. By taking control of the stories we tell ourselves, by remembering that ‘everything’s fine’ even when it might not feel that way, we can allow ourselves to flourish and to live more happily.

©2016 Derren Brown (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love." (Alain de Botton) 

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars

Derren the intellect & sage....emerges!

As shared by many others this is a witty & entertaining book.
Derren peels back the layer on parts of his “manipulation“ model in psychology and equally importantly he dives deeper and thoughtfully into how the mind builds reality.....moment-to-moment.
His reflective qualities also shine brightly throughout and some of the commentary is certainly uncomfortable & provoking, as it should be.
In my view, if you rate the tremendously talented Mr Brown - then this is a must listen/read.

16 people found this helpful

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Happy

The liberation of reconnecting with my own story, as this book so delicately suggests, has provided me the means to begin to live a more full and considered life. The historical significance of where our modern day notion of happiness derived itself and how best to apply the interest of self and simply being leave me in a state of otherwise unknown bliss and tranquility. Certainly I may more than likely at some point return to a bad time and adopt my old erroneous ways of thinking but I feel now able to step away and examine situations and events with clarity accepting that simply not everything is within my control and that’s fine. Much like the difference between attempting to stop road traffic which would inevitably cause anxiety and stress, I am reminded that to merely sit back and observe things which otherwise are out of my control and embrace them for the way they are, rather than how I would like them to be, is an extremely beautiful and yet simple notion and one which I intend to embody in my day to day life. Amazing book and would recommend to anybody and everybody.

8 people found this helpful

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interesting. bit long winded

A great introduction to a few philosophical perspectives regarding Happiness. worth reading/Listening to. Derren at time quite humorous. but as stated a little drawn out at times, but we'll worth a listen/read.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Death defying

It must be a truly great audio book to keep an old, self help book cynic entertained for fourteen and a half hours. I was lucky to have the former Chief Rabbi; now Lord Sachs, as my philosophy lecturer at Middlesex Poly but I'd have settled for the audacious Derren Brown. His enthusiasm for the Stoics considered lives as contrasted with our daily pap of positive thinking is great fun. The. last chapter makes clear that the Stoics didn't have all the answers to a fulfilled life and the current focus on mindfulness is beneficial but they'll do for me. As well as being superbly presented this book is well researched with direct quotes from philosophers, psychologists, authors, songwriters, celebrrities and, poignantly, from his fans. One of his fans dying of cancer, provides the most uplifting, happy way of facing death I,he ever read. This is a serious book on balancing our thoughts and actions against the slings and arrows, but there is humour too. The author's views on why being rich and famous is unlikely to be a recipe for happiness is worthy of a stand up comedy spot. He is refreshingly honest throughout and never patronising. I felt even luckier to have lived 66 fulfilling and fun years after listening to this and I learned so much that this is now the top self help book I will, happily, recommend:

7 people found this helpful

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rather a lot of focus on fame!

Enjoyed the book overall but felt Derren focused for a long time on things that may affect happiness levels in himself maybe? i.e fame and thoughts of death! Overall through enjoyed this book and took some good content from it and it has caused me to delve deeper into stoic thinking.

6 people found this helpful

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Astounding

Derren brings together 2000 year of wisdom and delivers it with brilliantly. Thoughtful and humane.

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Excellent but hard going at times.

At times be a challenging book and you need to listen carefully. But highly recomend.

1 person found this helpful

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Better Derren reading it to me, than me reading it

I bought the hard copy of this book and as much as I love Derren I REALLY struggled reading it. The 'brief' history of happiness just seemed to go on and on and on when I was reading it myself. I was very happy when I noticed Derren had recorded for Audible and it's much better listening to him narrate his work as he intended it to be heard.

Whilst not much concrete advice is given I did enjoy the book and his trashing of Rhonda Byrne of "The Secret" fame and "just think of what you want and it happens" mantra.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant book on philosophy and happiness

Derren Brown delightfully narrates his own interesting thoughts and musings on happiness: where it comes from, the way he attempts to achieve it and how it shouldn't always be the ultimate prize. He uses philosophy, psychological studies and anecdotes from his life to illustrate his points in a smart and sometimes humourous way. Some heavy philosophical elements may detract from the experience, but he attempts to explain these concepts in layman's terms and for the most part, I understood (though I do have a little, broad knowledge of philosophy myself).

Overall a brilliant book which I thoroughly enjoyed listening to and will happily do so again.

3 people found this helpful

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Thought provoking

The author is very sure of his beliefs, which is fine, though the book could be read as didactic. Or rather, misread.

There’s many interesting ideas and concepts from ancient times to modernity, especially from the stoics.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book even though I found myself disagreeing with much of what he says. However, it’s the areas that I don’t concur with that I found most rewarding as it challenged and left me pondering deep questions.

Such books are good for ones own growth and self introspection.

An enjoyable, satisfying and thought provoking book.
I’ve ordered many of the books Derren mentioned.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sam Russell
  • 07-04-19

A witty and thoughtful take on stoicism

This is a breath of fresh air in a genre cluttered with empty platitudes and wishful thinking. One would expect no less from the renowned debunker of charlatans, but even Derren manages to leave the listener pleasantly surprised.

Derren wades slowly but surely into the murky waters of life's biggest questions. Why are we here? What should we do with our short time on earth? What would we like to do with our lives?

This book will make you think hard and probably leave you with more questions than answers, but it will definitely point you in the right direction and leave you better than it found you.

3 people found this helpful

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  • sarge
  • 30-05-19

Stoicism for the ages!

If you want to know how to live life and live it well then this is the book! Derren Brown explains how Stoicism can be applied to help oneself live in the present moment & to let go of what cannot be controlled. It’s like cognitive behavioral therapy delivered in a methodical, approachable, & reality centered way. It left me feeling well...quite happy.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-06-19

Excellent primer on living a considered life.

The book isn't a stoic book exactly. It's philosophical, and the philosophy that he leans on most is certainly Stoicism.

The book is partly a much needed corrective the mawkish and naive pablum that fills the self help bookshelves and, unfortunately, people's desperate minds.

This book is a serious, realistic look at what can really be done to live a better, more fulfilled and happy life. This is a book about what matters, really, and how to focus on that.

If you're new to Stoicism this is an excellent place to start. It's modern, engaging and relavant. If you are long down the road of Stoicism much of this book will be retread, and that's okay.

But, there is a lot of this book that isn't Stoicism. He draws from many sources, referencing all sorts of sciences, philosophy and schools of thought. It's worth a read for that alone.

And, Darren reads it. He's an excellent narrator and you get the benefit of the passion and inflection that only the author could convey, with no downsides. He could no doubt be a narrator if he cared to. He's fully professional.

This book is underrepresented by the quantity of reviews and accurately represented by the quality of them. It's excellent. I'll be recommending it to many people for the foreseeable future.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mike A Klotz
  • 26-03-19

Must read/listen

The timing of this book couldn't be any better. In our modern world full of victim-hood and the cult of me, me, me we can all use the quiet, but firm, reality check Derren so eloquently delivers.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-01-20

Awesome Book!

Derren Brown wrote it, need I say more? It is now my favorite book as of the second I started it. On the fence? Do it!

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  • Eric
  • 11-01-20

My new favorite book

This was not at all what I was expecting from Derren Brown, which I suppose was a book full of various insights into the psychology of happiness. I’m not disappointed, though; while there were bits of interesting psychology on the subconscious, I was pleasantly surprised by what appears to be Derren’s personal journey of a Stoic philosophy. Even for someone with experience with Stoicism, Derren’s summarization is helpful in simplifying and applying it to seeking happiness in a very different modern culture.

While stoicism definitely permeates the book, there is a fair amount of personal experience that Derren shares to explore different difficult aspects of life and (especially) death.

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  • Udo
  • 07-12-19

one of the best audio books I've ever listened to!

excellent walk through the philosophy of hapiness. also enjoyed the authors own observations, examples and conclusions.

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  • Buddha
  • 05-12-19

Very Much Loved It!

Intelligent, well written, well read.

I found myself smiling more than I usually do while listening to an audio book. This book contains both height and depth.

Very enjoyable!

Thank you Derren!

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  • Fabian
  • 26-10-19

Overall great intro to the good life.

Great intro to stoicism, epicureanism and other greek thinkers from various traditions. Interesante not a Derren Brown fan since I’ve never heard of him before so the chapters referring to magic and his life were not interesting to me. He’s a lucid thinker and as I said, this is probably the best intro to the good life.

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  • David
  • 17-10-19

Great book. Great Author. Life changing advice.

The first few chapters can be difficult to understand, but they are necessary chapters and the bulk of the book is very easy to understand. I will be listening to this one a few more times.