Book Review: Happy by Derren Brown

I was so excited to write this review and now I’m not sure I can do the book justice!

I bought Happy for two reasons. First, because I’m a huge fan of Derren Brown, if you ever get the chance to see him live then I highly recommend it! Second, I have quite debilitating anxiety and while I’m trying to sort through it, I’ve been looking for ways to help reprogram my brain. I didn’t buy this book because I was looking for a quick fix to being happy and that is not what this is.

The book looks at happiness and what we perceive happiness to be from a number of different standpoints, historical, philosophical, societal etc. All of these areas have always been of great interest to me so, if nothing else, I thoroughly enjoyed these sections of the book out of general interest.

Although this book is about happiness, it also explores life and in particular, how to live a considered life. The theories in the book challenge us to think about how we view life and what impacts our actions and emotions in a way that I haven’t before. Anxiety that is out of control is a cruel invasion of our emotions, actively taking control of our view of life and others. This book has not cured my out of control anxiety, instead, reading it has provided me with ways to think through what makes me anxious and why I allow it to.

A strange thing happened when I read the content page of this book. I saw that a section of it talks about death and I immediately decided I would skip that bit. Death is not something we choose to think about and when I do, I start to spiral so I didn’t think I could handle that part. Upon actually reading the book I found myself able to read the death section when I reached it despite me having convinced myself I wouldn’t be able to, if you have read the book then you may understand why.

I could keep writing this review however I’m conscious of actually going into detail because I think it is something you have to read for yourself. The tagline is ‘why more or less everything is absolutely fine’ and true to its word, the book explores why in fact this could be the case if we allow it to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed Derren Brown’s writing style, it was sophisticated, witty, informative and insightful. Rather than being didactic, the book gives us unbiased information and encourages us to think for ourselves, it is a well researched and balanced discussion. Instead of feeling happy at the end of the book, I started to consider if happiness is what I’m looking for and how I actually define it.

I hope everyone reads this book! It is not a novel, however, it does tell a story and takes you on a journey.

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