Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment Tal Ben-Shahar – Book Summary/Notes

-happiness isn’t a destination, it’s an unlimited resource and a lifelong pursuit. We can always look for new ways to become happier and gain more happiness.

-focus on creating “rituals” versus calling them habits. “Building rituals requires defining very precise behaviors and performing them at very specific times, motivated by deeply held values.”

-when priming – keep the emotions fresh. Imagine what each item means to you and experience the feeling associated with It. 

-happiness/hamburger model – 4 types

Junk food burger – present enjoyment while ignoring potential negative consequences. 

Vegetarian burger – rat race – suffer now for purpose of some anticipated gain. 

Worst burger – doesn’t taste good and no benefits. Nihilism type, doesn’t enjoy the moment or have a sense of future purpose. 

Best burger – best of both worlds both delicious and healthy. Happiness burger. Living secure in the knowledge that the activities that bring them enjoyment in the present will also lead to a fulfilling future. 

Rat racers work hard, don’t enjoy what they do, and have a persistent belief that once they reach a certain destination in life, then they can be happy. 

Our culture reinforces the belief that if we do something good (at work) we will receive something in return (a bonus, raise or promotion), making us focus on the next goal rather than on our present experience. 

We are not rewarded for enjoying the journey itself but for the successful completion of a journey. Society rewards results not processes or journeys. 

We mistake relief for happiness, reinforcing the illusion that simply reaching goals will make us happy. 

Just like when we have a headache, when the pain goes away we derive a certain pleasure from the absence of pain but then very quickly adapt and take our physical contentment for granted.

Studies on journaling show that writing about negative as well as positive experiences enhances our levels of mental and physical health. <- Opening Up JW Pennebaker

Studies show that happy individuals are successful in various aspects of life, marriage friendship income work performance and health. Relationship between happiness and success are reciprocal. Happiness brings success and vice versa. Happy people live better and longer. 

Happiness = pleasure (in present benefit) + meaning (in future benefit)

Simply setting goals and even reaching them doesn’t always bring meaning and purpose. Goals we set must be intrinsically meaningful. 

To live a meaningful life we must have a self generated purpose that possesses personal significance rather than one that is dictated by society standards and expectations.

The important thing is that we choose our purpose in accordance with our own values and passions rather than conforming to others expectations.

Mapping your life – spend time writing and reflecting on how your day went to identify important patterns. You can then decide what to eliminate and what to focus more on. 

When making decisions our society makes us focus on material than emotional, as wealth is measurable and emotions/meaning aren’t. Your house or a book is quantifiable, but your feelings for the home or what a book means to you cannot he measured. 

Emotional bankruptcy. Wake up, material wealth doesn’t bring happiness. Think about everybody around you, everybody is looking towards the same place for the same hopeful feelings, but it’s wrong! 

Goals – people who set goals are more likely to succeed then people who do not. having explicit objectives that are challenging and specific with clear timeline and performance criteria leads to better performance – book called building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation Locke and Latham. 

Set concordant goals – goals we pursue out of deep personal conviction or strong interest that are integrated with the self directly from self choice. These goals are chosen from the self stemming from a desire to express rather than from the need to impress. 

Meaning Pleasure Strengths Process – writing down for each to see what you’d enjoy doing most, not what others want for you or doing something just because it’s a strength of yours. 


And seeing overlaps 


To determine what would make you emotionally prosperous versus financially unhappy. 

Happiness boosters – activities lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours that provide us with both meaning and pleasure both future and present benefit. They can inspire motivate and provide energy. 

Appreciative inquiry  – rather than focusing on what doesn’t work this focuses on what has worked or does work. Think about what made you happier in the past and what specifically made you feel good then ask yourself how you can take what you’ve learned from your best past and apply it toward creating a better future.


Imagine you are 110 years old and are able to go back in time to when you were younger and you’re able to have 15 minutes to give yourself advice on how to find more happiness in your life. Think about what you would tell your younger self.