Happy Ever After: Escaping Narrative Traps About How to


Happy Ever After: Escaping Narrative Traps About How to Live Dolan writes about how the dominant social narratives restrict our idea of what we have to do with our lives, and suggests that sometimes happiness is to be found outside of them His topics include education, wealth, marriage and children Some of the statistics he quotes are truly arresting, e.g twice as many people in the US compared to the UK are seemingly willing to be miserable in order to be wealthy. A book by a behavioural scientist whose main theme is to bring out the extent to which our life choices and desires career, wealth, family, health, charitable giving etc are frequently conditioned by social narratives that is, cultural assumptions and expectations that may actually not correspond to what makes for happiness The book adopts a utilitarian standpoint what makes for greater happiness and argues that evidence shows that people are happier if they do not let themselves A book by a behavioural scientist whose main theme is to bring out the extent to which our life choices and desires career, wealth, family, health, charitable giving etc are frequently conditioned by social narratives that is, cultural assumptions and expectations that may actually not correspond to what makes for happiness The book adopts a utilitarian standpoint what makes for greater happiness and argues that evidence shows that people are happier if they do not let themselves be conditioned by social narratives As a simple example, studies suggest that people are happier if they have just enough wealth not to have to worry too much about money than if they are very rich.Paul Dolan cites lots of academic studies, and I found myself wondering how far some of them were were statistically reliable But his overall thesis is surely right.With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review I read this because I saw the article on The Guardian about how the book talks about how single, child free women tend to be happiest However, this was only a smaller part of a wider discussion about happiness narratives and how in actuality, mainstream societal ideas about what happiness and success mean are very different from what actually makes people happy I could go on about what I liked and didn t like, but overall I wasn t the biggest fan because it was sort of boring it took me for I read this because I saw the article on The Guardian about how the book talks about how single, child free women tend to be happiest However, this was only a smaller part of a wider discussion about happiness narratives and how in actuality, mainstream societal ideas about what happiness and success mean are very different from what actually makes people happy I could go on about what I liked and didn t like, but overall I wasn t the biggest fan because it was sort of boring it took me forever to read because it was a lot of listing statistic after statistic I also thought the physical health narrative he talks about in part 3 was oversimplified It s almost impossible to say you can be physically unhealthy and hardly ever feel miserable because well, no, a lot of people who are physically unhealthy DO feel miserable If anything, I felt he underestimated how good it feels to be in good health I think what he means to say is you do not make 100% healthy choices all of the time but you feel fantastic but a night out here and there in your early 20s is hardly the same thing as your body being in poor health over a long period of time Idk, I don t feel strongly enough about this book to recommend it one way or the other It s sort of self help, but also academic It s nice to have it validated that being unmarried and or child free are actually good options for women but tbh, if you re a woman in your mid 20s or older, you have probably already met a woman who lives a great life while unmarried and child free, or you are that woman and you feel happy about your choices, so you most likely already knew that The claims is Some common beliefs of what leads to happiness held by society just aren t backed up by data Duh. Based on the description for this book I thought I was going to be reading a self help book But instead I found it to belike a text book for academics on the subject of happiness complete with graphs, or in the case of my kindle ARC no graphs, which wasn t helpful I can only assume if you buy the kindle edition there will be graphs.I was off to a bad start with this book when the author proclaimed that as an LSE professor he was not expected to swear He then goes on to say that there is Based on the description for this book I thought I was going to be reading a self help book But instead I found it to belike a text book for academics on the subject of happiness complete with graphs, or in the case of my kindle ARC no graphs, which wasn t helpful I can only assume if you buy the kindle edition there will be graphs.I was off to a bad start with this book when the author proclaimed that as an LSE professor he was not expected to swear He then goes on to say that there is no correlation to swearing being due to poor vocabulary and or low intelligence There is however evidence to suggest that students payattention to a teacher who swears That s my exclamation point The author then says that swearing is only ever harmful when it is aggressive or abusive and proceeds to litter the book with swearing as if to prove his point This I found unnecessary and crude and felt it didn t help me learn in the slightest.The book carries this rather sanctimonious attitude throughout and really I felt I was being preached at Yes, there are studies in the US and UK reported with x results but we all know about statistics I thought this book was going to be a little bitreal life than quoting research at me.At the beginning of each chapter you are asked two questions about yourself and then the same two questions thinking about them in relation to a friend at the end of each chapter the conclusion is then revealed When I wrote papers my conclusion had to be a paragraph succinct, sum up what I had written Unfortunately the conclusions in this book were so long winded and over many pages, that I lost the point of the conclusion There were a few glimpses of things that I thought now this is interesting but they passed and in the main I found the book unappealing If you are going to be writing a thesis I can imagine you will find plenty of material to quote in this book If you are just someone interested in being happier maybe look up the art of hygge I m giving this book 3 out of 5 stars 4.5 starsThis book is a fascinating read and an excellent chance for self and societal reflection While I found the introduction very academic it s been a long time since I used the word deontological , the rest of the book gave a broad overview of the societal stories we continue to tell ourselves It doesn t seek to be an authority on each topic or to cover the field, but force introspection and assessment of how we continue to believe and uphold those narratives While the arguments in the 4.5 starsThis book is a fascinating read and an excellent chance for self and societal reflection While I found the introduction very academic it s been a long time since I used the word deontological , the rest of the book gave a broad overview of the societal stories we continue to tell ourselves It doesn t seek to be an authority on each topic or to cover the field, but force introspection and assessment of how we continue to believe and uphold those narratives While the arguments in the book don t make me think that happiness is achieved by unlocking certain achievements in society, it demonstrates how clearly we are subconsciously swayed by prevailing narratives I found the chapters about income and self determination pretty eye opening Get a good education, be successful, get married, have kids and look after your health This is what we re told will make us happy But what if these stories are doing harm than good In Happy Ever After, bestselling happiness expert Professor Paul Dolan draws on groundbreaking research and data to bust the common myths about happiness and show that the path to fulfilment is actually far unexpected than we thought With straight talking wisdom, he invites us to reappraise our values, free our minds from the narrative traps of conventional wisdom and write our own version of the good life, based on maximising positive, meaningful experiences that can generate new social benefits not least greater tolerance for different ways of lifeHappiness isn t what you re told It s what you do Don t get married, don t have kids, party hard, eat fat and get fat, settle down at 75k per annum Not that I don t find some of it appealing But a it s one man s vision of happiness and not a recipe, and b it misses out on do much like learning, seeing the world, etc I d give it a negative rating if I could. Paul Dolan is a psychologist and this is an educated and well researched book but it is for everyone to read as it is truly fascinating We have a social norm set up for us and we strive to be happy by achieving that norm and woe betide you if you deviate in any way But Mr Dolan suggests that to be really happy we need to move from a culture ofplease to one of just enough He believes we should haverespect for people who choose to live their lives to a different set of rules Paul Dolan is a psychologist and this is an educated and well researched book but it is for everyone to read as it is truly fascinating We have a social norm set up for us and we strive to be happy by achieving that norm and woe betide you if you deviate in any way But Mr Dolan suggests that to be really happy we need to move from a culture ofplease to one of just enough He believes we should haverespect for people who choose to live their lives to a different set of rules and look to them for ways to increase our own happiness There is a stigma associated with trying to conform to a narrative and falling short and there is a separate stigma from not trying to conform in the first place This is a book that should be read by all sorts of people but maybe most by those who feel there isto life than the latest gadgets or trends but don t know where to turn to find purpose.I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review A fresh approach on social narratives that follow all of us through our lives In the western world, we ought to be successful, wealthy, educated, married with children, healthy, The list goes on and on But do those social narratives make us happy Some might, and some might not The book also points out how we are permanently judged by people and how we judge people too, especially those who make different choices no children, no university, part time jobs andleisure time, etc A fresh approach on social narratives that follow all of us through our lives In the western world, we ought to be successful, wealthy, educated, married with children, healthy, The list goes on and on But do those social narratives make us happy Some might, and some might not The book also points out how we are permanently judged by people and how we judge people too, especially those who make different choices no children, no university, part time jobs andleisure time, etc Society won t change over night, of course, but reading this book may help to at least question all these social narratives on how to lead a perfect life There is no perfect life, therefore, just live your ownIt was the perfect book to start the new year 2020, as it gave me loads to think about


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About the Author: Paul Dolan

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