Happy by Derren Brown - text superimposed over pink balloon

Happy, by Derren Brown

If happiness correlates to girth, then either Derren Brown or his readers are likely to be made joyous by ‘Happy’, which is a sizeable tome.

It’s split into three parts: why thinking of happiness as a goal is a mistake; Stoicism in history and practice; and, well, Death. There’s lots of detail here, some practical, some didactic, some personal, but it’s assuredly (and at times, almost academically) written. If there’s an outcome, it’s how to apply the Stoic principles to your own life, and thereby free yourself from the emotional cul-de-sac of worry, negative thinking and the fear of death or dying. That entails not just passive reading about Greek philosophers and Marcus Aurelius (Brown quotes these and others copiously), but in interrogating the things you believe. Happiness is perhaps easier written about than achieved, however, as while there are gems of comfort and philosophical delights, this book is, materially speaking, brick-like.

“Milan Kundera made the enduring point in The Unbearable Lightness of Being that there is no dress rehearsal for life. This is life; this is it, right now. It is a powerful and motivating thought. Each moment you live passes and is gone, never to return. Life is too brief to not consider how to experience it at its best. This is not about bungee jumping or forming an extravagant bucket list. It can happen in the ordinary moments of your everyday life.”

Similar to: Tricks of the Mind (Derren Brown), The Chimp Paradox

Happy, Derren Brown. Corgi, 2017


Words: my own except where quoted.

Image by Florian Klauer via Unsplash.