Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar


“Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.” – Ben Tal-Shahar
The first archetype is the rat race – where the belief is that some future destination will bring lasting happiness
The second archetype is the hedonism archetype – where the belief is to only focus on things that give pleasure now
The third is the nihilism archetype – where neither the future or the now gives one happiness
And of course, the archetype we want to be in is the happiness archetype – the joy of working towards the larger goal; where we’re not asking to be happier either now or in the future, but how do we be happy now and the future.


If you ask yourself why you do what you do enough times, you will notice that it always goes back to one idea: to be happy. If you recognize this now, truly believe this to be the case, you will start to be aware of everything else is just a means to an end and that you can be happy at any point in time.


“Introduce no more than one or two rituals at a time, and make sure they become habits before you introduce new ones. As Tony Schwartz says, ‘Incremental change is better than ambitious failure. …Success feeds on itself.'” – Tal Ben-Shahar
Ben-Shahar goes on to talk about how great performers rely on positive rituals to manage their energy and behaviour. I too, have been creating rituals and habits for my life. For example, my daily ritual is to wake up at 6, meditate for 20 minutes (using Headspace), work out for 30 minutes, prep for work for 30mins and then read and summarize a PN in 30-60 minutes. That leaves me with just enough time to walk to work.
Over the past week, I’ve added a bunch of other things that I want to do before going to sleep. However, as Ben-Shahar said, “introduce no more than one or two rituals at a time” – I’m having difficulty doing more than one of them prior to sleeping. But I will make it happen over time!


“In addition to creating a habit of activities that you want to engage in, introduce negative rituals—times during which you refrain from doing certain things.” Tal Ben-Shahar
This is definitely a concept I have not explored. Doing work without the internet / leaving the phone somewhere else does logically make sense, and in most cases, I tend to do that for my morning rituals. However this is now on the list of things to explore.


“In research done by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, those who kept a daily gratitude journal—writing down at least five things for which they were grateful—enjoyed higher levels of emotional and physical well-being.” – Tal Ben-Shahar
I don’t remember how it started, but I did introduce this as a ritual with my girlfriend before going to sleep. We each talk about our top 3 things that happened that day. We’ve been doing it for awhile now and it’s definitely a great way to quickly reflect on your day.


“As research on self-concordant goals illustrates, Campbell’s belief is much more than a superstition. When we follow our bliss, we not only enjoy the journey, we are also more successful.” – Tal Ben-Shahar
It’s important to have goals around your personal conviction / interest. Seriously work towards those goals and you will enjoy the whole experience.


Instead of setting deadlines, think about setting lifelines since self-concordant goals inspire you (ie/ brings life to you).


“In 1879 Thomas Edison announced that he would publicly display the electric lightbulb by December 31, even though all his experiments had, to that point, failed. He threw his knapsack over the brick wall—the numerous challenges that he still faced—and on the last day of that year, there was light.” – Tal Ben-Shahar
Even just telling people what you are going to do will make it that much more likely that you will live up to it. I’ve done this many times and will continue to do it many more. Although not all my verbal commitments I’ve shared have gone through, many more did happen.


What would you tell the you now if you could when you’re 110? The point here is that we already know what we need to know to live an incredible life. All that’s left is to bring awareness to it, internalize it and actually start living it.

My Take Aways

I actually got this book before reading the PN (well, it’d be more accurate to say that I decided to summarize this PN the day after I got the book). When I was browsing the used bookstore, I noticed the name Tal Ben-Shahar and knew it was because he was referenced by Brian Johnson in a past PN that I summarized. That was the only reason why I got the book at that time, and now reading the PN, I’m glad I did. Although none of this is new per say, the concept of negative rituals is something I’d like to explore. Overall, this seems to be a book that I would gift to someone who might not be on this path.

If you’re interested in this book, you can get it at Amazon (please note that I will be getting a small amount from Amazon, though it does not affect how much you pay – Amazon just makes less money than if you were to go onto the website yourself). I also suggest you check out the actual Philosopher’s Notes (note they even have courses that consolidate many of the concepts in the books that Brian Joshnson covers and puts them into videos that are really easy to digest). This is the first program that I’ve signed up for and am definitely getting my money’s worth!

Let me know if this summary helped or if any of these big ideas resonated with you!


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