The Conquest of Happiness Posted on 2015-07-27 by Dave Fowler

I just finished reading "The Conquest of Happiness" by the famous Philosopher and Mathematician Betrand Russell and I couldn't recommend it more. Though written 85 years ago, the book is just as relevant today as it ever was.

The Conquest of Happiness is split into two parts, the first explaining causes of unhappiness, and the second causes of happiness. I've listed out the causes here, with explanations only for the non-obvious and a few select quotes. You'll have to read the book yourself for the descriptions and arguments which would be poorly serviced if summarized.

1. Causes of Unhappiness

Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact.

Byronic Unhappiness

This is basically wise people who are unhappy and feel generally proud of their unhappiness which they consider to be "the only rational attitude for an enlightened man."




Sense of Sin

Fear of Public Opinion

2. Causes of Happiness


An energy and eagerness when engaging with the world.


Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

The Family


Impersonal Interests

Any interests like sports, leisure reading, etc, that are very light work and take no serious effort.

Read it

One of my favorite paragraphs is near the end of the book as he begins to bring everything together:

The man capable of greatness of soul will open wide the windows of his mind, letting the winds blow freely upon it from every portion of the universe. He will see himself and life and the world as truly as our human limitations will permit; realizing the brevity and minuteness of human life, he will realize also that in individual minds is concentrated whatever of value the known universe contains. And he will see that the man who's mind mirrors the world becomes in a sense as great as the world. In emancipation from the fears that beset the salve of circumstance he will experience a profound joy, and through all the vicissitudes of his outward life he will remain in the depths of his being a happy man.

You can get it online for free right here in all the major formats including Kindle. I hope you enjoy.