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The Happiness Problem

by Sam Wren-Lewis

Business The Real World

LoveReading View on The Happiness Problem

It does not follow, over time, that as a society gets wealthier and more secure, it’s people become happier.

Do you find the goal posts are always moving; that no matter your degree of personal or professional achievement, you never quite reach satisfaction? Contentment, at least full contentment, is a myth?

And is the pursuit of personal happiness in fact self indulgent and selfish? If we do an unselfish act for another in order that it provides us with a good feeling, is that not, in fact, a selfish act?

The Happiness Problem is a book written to invite us to stand back and ask a question. What is happiness, and what is it we seek to achieve through its pursuit?


Wren-Lewis's book is thought provoking, disturbing and at the same time reassuring. A good read for anyone wanting to re-assess their goals in life, to reconnect with it, and to explore the notion that all that glitters is not gold.

Matt Johnson

The Happiness Problem Synopsis

We appear to have more control over our lives than ever before. If we could get things right - the perfect job, relationship, family, body and mind - then we'd be happy. With enough economic growth and technological innovation, we could cure all societal ills.

The Happiness Problem shows that this way of thinking is too simplistic and can even be harmful: no matter how much progress we make, we will still be vulnerable to disappointment, loss and suffering. The things we do to make us happy are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Sam Wren-Lewis offers an alternative process that acknowledges insecurity and embraces uncertainty. Drawing on our psychological capacities for curiosity and compassion, he proposes that we can connect with, and gain a deeper understanding of, the personal and social challenges that define our time.

The Happiness Problem Press Reviews

A must read for anyone who wants to apply the latest science of well-being to wider issues of individual success and societal progress. There is much more to happiness than meets the eye, and this book will make you think differently about what you want and care most deeply about.

Scott Barry Kaufman, Columbia University and co-author of Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

What would the study of wellbeing look like if it wasn't centred around the goal of increasing individuals' ratings of happiness? Wren-Lewis walks a fine line between the thoughtless optimism of positive psychology and the defeatist pessimism of its critics and forges a distinctive path that's both complex and hopeful.

Anna Alexandrova, University of Cambridge

In this profoundly thoughtful and important book, Sam Wren-Lewis asks us to step aside from the `self-improvement movement', and instead seek happiness by letting go, taking risks, and connecting with pain, failure and loss. This is an absolute must read for anyone who is ready to tackle the deeper, more complex, and ultimately more fulfilling life.

Brock Bastian, author of The Other Side of Happiness

This wise and engaging book punctures a toxic myth about happiness: that it is ours to choose. Yet our mania for control itself makes us less happy. In its stead Sam Wren-Lewis offers an inspiring, and liberating, message of acceptance and understanding.

Dan Haybron, Saint Louis University, Missouri, USA

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781447353553
Publication date: 08/11/2019
Publisher: Policy Press
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781447353553
Publication date: 8th November 2019
Author: Sam Wren-Lewis
Publisher: Policy Press
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 304 pages
Genres: Business, The Real World,
Categories: Popular psychology, Psychology: emotions,

About Sam Wren-Lewis

Sam Wren-Lewis is an independent scholar with a PhD from the University of Leeds on the philosophy of happiness, and the author of a number of published papers on the study of happiness and wellbeing. He is also a self-employed wellbeing consultant, and former Head of Research and Development at Happy City, where he carries out collaborative research and policy work with a wide range of wellbeing policy organisations. His website is

More About Sam Wren-Lewis

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