The title of this book makes it seem perfectly suited for today’s Red Bull-fueled world, where everything from sports to pizza has gone extreme. Why settle for pepperoni when you can have beef, sausage, bacon, and ham, too? And why limit yourself to basic happiness when you can have the super-sized version? Through a 30-year personal journey of multidisciplinary reading and practical experimentation, author Geoff Pridham writes that he has formulated a “powerful process” through which one can “achieve a happier, longer and better life through happiness and wisdom.”
Hmmm. Wait a minute. The way to become happier is through happiness? What is happiness, after all? And hasn’t anyone in human history — like Buddha, Jesus, or Mohammad – given the matter some thought? “Let’s not worry about those questions for the moment,” Pridham writes. Instead, he offers advice on how readers can improve their state of mind, such as rethinking old ideas, meditating, gaining perspective, and educating themselves on eight core subjects, including basic survival skills, politics, finance, and–yes–wisdom and happiness. The amount of happiness you can achieve, he suggests, is proportionate to the amount of effort you put into practicing these techniques.
It’s easy to see how this could lead to improved serenity, calmness, and ability to deal with adversity. Pridham clearly shows how making emotions work for us, not against us, can lead to better decision making, and he offers some lovely and useful insights, such as suggesting that we think of our emotions as young grandchildren that we can “lightly and pleasantly, yet cleverly” guide in the right direction.
But these achievements don’t necessarily sound like “happiness,” especially the extreme kind. While well-intentioned and carefully presented, it’s not clear that Pridham’s personal discoveries add up to a universal path to the kind of happiness promised in his title.