Book Review - The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD

Rating: 2.5/5

I read this with my brother and we had discussions about each chapter, which worked well since we were able to bounce ideas off one another and make sure we really understood what was going on. I'm glad to have read the book, but it's probably not one I'd keep on hand to read again. It started strong, then the last few chapters were really slow. The last section re-established my interest, but that was because it was discussing religion and spirituality.

I didn't agree with everything the Dalai Lama (DL) said or proposed, but I tried not to let that color my experiences.

What I liked
I enjoyed hearing the DL speak about different topics such as happiness, contentment, selfishness, and religion. I felt he had some good ideas and life would be better if people applied those ideas more often. Of course we can't force them to, but I think the DL makes some good points for what these behaviors/thoughts are beneficial to the individual as much as the larger community.

Cutler backs up much of what the DL says with studies, which my left brain congratulates while my right brain ignored it.

What I didn't like

Cutler was a little love-struck with the DL, which tainted his writing and influenced what he said and how he felt about the DL. Of course this could taint the reader in favor of the DL, but it just annoyed me.

When he quoted studies, he rarely gave the number of participants. There is no reference section. While this isn't a scientific work, I am often surrounded by articles that try to use a study for their own purposes. If the study only had 40 participants, it's not as impressive as if it had 400. Not to mention differences in set up, etc. This won't bother the average reader, most likely.

I felt like the author was talking down to me sometimes, which is a giant "NONO."

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