The Conquest of Happiness

2007 July 17

Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness (Infinite Success)

A reader recommended that I read this book by the esteemed philosopher Bertrand Russell. Originally published in 1930, it feels like the original self-help book with its accessible, but dated, charm. From the preface by A.C. Grayling, "Some of the deepest truths are simple, when seen in the clearest light, and it takes a lucid intellect to grasp them so thoroughly that their simplicity can be brought into that light and offered to all, not just the privileged few."

Russell puts it well in his chapter on the "Fear of Public Opinion" when he says, "Fear of public opinion, like every other form of fear, is oppressive and stunts growth. It is difficult to achieve any kind of greatness while a fear of this kind remains strong, and it is impossible to acquire that freedom of spirit in which true happiness consists, for it is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbours, or even our relations." All in all not a terribly simple book to read, but certainly satisfying law7-ally.