Happy Ever After Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life

Happy Ever After Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life Escaping the Harmful Stories about How to Live 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 goodIn 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

10 thoughts on “Happy Ever After Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life Escaping the Harmful Stories about How to Live

  1. Luca Luca says:

    Happy Ever After by Paul Dolan is a book about uncovering myths about a perfect life These myths also known as the happiness narrative are what we tend to think what makes us happy but often we are better off abandoning this narrative Dolan is a behavioral scientist and thus has not surprisingly a very scientific way of looking at this However I liked it that he made it human and relatable by giving his own interpretations of things at times whilst still leaving space for readers to disagree The book consistently worked through several topics on which we are vulnerable to the happiness narrative Ranging from marriage kids health and education there will probably be chapters to which you can relate than others but I found several of them to be real eye openers Further I really felt that Dolan was his unapologetic self while writing this book There is some swearing but he also explains why and I found it hilarious that somebody actually thought that he should not swear because of his position as an academic For fuck sake how ridiculous is that Then there is also this thing with not reading fiction weird if you’d ask me but hey who am I to judge Besides that this provides for some of the ‘easier’ content of the book it also taught me another lesson about not falling for the narrative traps that we so easily want to adhere to without realizing if that really is what makes us happyThis book provided me with some interesting things to think about it was not filled with jargon and thus a relatively relaxing read My rating is 35 out of 5 stars I received a digital review copy of this book from Penguin Books UK in exchange for an honest review All opinions are entirely my own

  2. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    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 uotes are truly arresting eg “twice as many people in the US compared to the UK are seemingly willing to be miserable in order to be wealthy”

  3. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    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 andor 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

  4. Andrey Andrey says:

    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 so much like learning seeing the world etc I'd give it a negative rating if I could

  5. Michael Huang Michael Huang says:

    The claims is Some common beliefs of what leads to happiness held by society just aren’t backed up by data Duh

  6. Michael Cayley Michael Cayley says:

    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 freuently 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 richPaul 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 rightWith thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me have an ARC in exchange for an honest review

  7. Jen Jen says:

    45 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

  8. Lynn Brown Lynn Brown says:

    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 be like 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 graphsI 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 vocabularyand or low intelligence There is however evidence to suggest that students pay attention 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 slightestThe 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 bit real life than uoting research at meAt the beginning of each chapter you are asked two uestions about yourself and then the same two uestions 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 uote in this book If you are just someone interested in being happier maybe look up the art of hyggeI'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars

  9. Anne Anne says:

    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 of ' please' to one of 'just enough' He believes we should have respect 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 placeThis is a book that should be read by all sorts of people but maybe most by those who feel there is to life than the latest gadgets or trends but don't know where to turn to find purposeI was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review

  10. Beate Beate says:

    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 and leisure time etc Society won't change over night of course but reading this book may help to at least uestion 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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