Books that changed my life: “Happiness: the science behind your smile” by Daniel Nettle


“Natural selection doesn’t give a fig for our happiness. It just wants us alive and making babies, miserably if need be.” – Randolph Nesse


“Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile” really helped me get a far more solid grasp on just what the fuck happiness is and how one goes about getting this often very fuzzy topic. The author lays out the scientific findings regarding the topic in simple terms. What’s this? A happiness book free of the wishy-washy bullshit? You’ve got to be kidding me! I kid you not, this is that book.

How this book helped me:

First up, it answered my question as to just what the fuck we’re talking about when we say happiness. Spoiler alert: it’s usually not about actual happiness but a bunch of related topics which they call happiness because it sells better.

Then it cleared up my many misconceptions regarding happiness that would have had me pursuing it in the wrong places for god knows how long (buying positional or adaptable goods, getting rich as shit when you’re already financially okay…) including why there’s a difference between what we think will make us happy and what actually does.

It also helped me identify the obtainable ingredients for a happy life (autonomy, hobbies, strong social circle, good health, gratitude, high extroversion, low introversion, a high and complex self-image, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, quality of environment…)

At the end of reading this book I seriously re-evaluated my life’s goals and changed them according to my new understanding. Had I not found this book my life probably would have gone in a totally different and utterly shitty direction because my goals were based on misconceptions.

Where in your journey this book fits:

Like reading a book on the art of war before attempting to wage one, this is the book to read before attempting your pursuit of happiness, because your natural inclinations will betray you, basically. Happiness is great because even if you haven’t figured out the chief goal of your life, happiness is something which is nice to have regardless. After you equip yourself with a good understanding of what happiness is, isn’t and what will and won’t get you more of it, then go out and achieve your happiness-related goals from a much cleverer vantage point with a much more reliable compass.

The style of the book:

Despite the scientific nature of this book, it’s easy enough to read for simple folks. It’s also quite short at 200 pages. It can be amusing during brief times, but it basically doesn’t waste time getting down to it. There are more entertaining books on happiness out there, but I doubt they’d be more useful than this.

Similar books to read:

Nothing I’ve read comes close. All other happiness books I’ve checked out are jam-packed with impractical, vague, irrelevant bullshit that eventually admits to not actually being about happiness at all.

Links to buy from:


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