The conquest of happiness

Author Bertrand Russell
Status done
Read October 9, 2022
Pages 223
Released 2013
Categories Philosophy Life
People Bertrand-Russell
Links LibraryThing

As noted in the introduction this is one of Russel’s less heavy works, in the preface he himself writes:

This book is not addressed to highbrows, or to those who regard a practical problem merely as something to be talked abou. No profound philosophy or deep erudition will be found in the following pages.

This being Russel it still contains loads of deep sentences, metaphors and allusions to heavier material. Having read some of his other writing though I know this is of the softer sort.

Causes of Unhappiness

Causes of Happiness


  1. It is not only work that is poisoned by the philosophy of competition; leisure is poisoned just as much. Ths kind of leisure which is quiet and restoring to the nerves comes to be felt boring. … The cure for this lies in admitting the part of sane and quiet enjoyment in a balanced ideal of life.

    on competition p. 56

  2. The special kind of boredom from which modern urban populations suffer is intimately bound up with their separation from the life on Earth. It makes life hot and dustyand thirs, like a pilgrimage in the desert. Among those who are rich enough to choose their way of life, the particular brand of unendurable boredom from which they suffer is due, paradoxical as this may seem, to their fear of boredom. In flying from the fructifying kind of boredom, they fall prey to the other far worse kind. A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.

    on boredom and quiet p. 66

  3. Now every kind of fear grows worse by not being looked at. The effort of turning away one’s thoughts is a tribute to the horribleness of the specter from which one is averting one’s gaze; the proper course with every kind of fear is to think about it ratinoally and calmly, but with great concentration, until it has been completely familiar.

    on treating fear p. 75

  4. … a young man does well to reflect that he will ultimately be in a position to marry, and that he will be unwise if he lives in such a way as to make a happy marriage impossible, which may easily happen through frayed nerves and an acquired incapacity for the gentler pleasures.

    p. 77

  5. One of the ways of diminishing envy, therefore, is to diminish fatigue. But by far the most important thing is to secure a loife which is satisfying to instinct. > > p. 87

  6. I think in general, apart from expert opinion, there is too much respect paid to the opinions of others, both in great matters and in small ones. One should respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. > > p. 125

> *p. 76*
> *p. 76*

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