What is the secret of happiness? Bertrand Russell’s answer.

Listen to this article

“The secret of happiness is this: Let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile. The world is vast and our own powers are limited. If all our happiness is bound up entirely in our personal circumstances it is difficult not to demand of life more than it has to give. And to demand too much is the surest way of getting even less than is possible. The man who can forget his worries by means of a genuine interest in, say, gardening, or the life history of stars, will find that, when he returns from his excursion into the impersonal world, he has acquired a poise and calm which enable him to deal with his worries in the best way, and he will in the meantime have experienced a genuine even if temporary happiness.”
— Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness (1930), Part II. Causes of Happiness, Chapter X: Is Happiness Still Possible?, p. 140

“I was not born happy … In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know only more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more.
This is due partly to having discovered what were the things that I most desired, and having gradually acquired many of these things. Partly it is due to having successfully dismissed certain objects of desire — such as the acquisition of indubitable knowledge about something or other — as essentially unattainable. But very largely my current happiness is due to a diminishing preoccupation with myself.
… Gradually I learned to be indifferent to myself and my deficiencies; I came to centre my attention increasingly upon external objects: the state of the world, various branches of knowledge, individuals for whom I felt affection. External interests, it is true, bring each its own possibility of pain: the world may be plunged in war, knowledge in some direction may be hard to achieve, friends may die. But pains of these kinds do not destroy the essential quality of life, as do those that spring from disgust with the self.”
― Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness (1930), Part I. Causes of Unhappiness, Ch: I, What Makes People Unhappy?, p. 9

The Conquest of Happiness (1930) by Bertrand Russell pre-dates the modern genre of self-help popular/philosophy by decades. This work lays out Russell’s rationalist prescription for living a happy life, mainly the importance of cultivating interests outside oneself and the dangers of passive and base pleasure. The Conquest of Happiness (1930) is often cited as one of Bertrand Russell’s most accessible and favorite books.

“I was not born happy … In adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know only more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more.

Bertrand Russell

 218 VIEWS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.