30 Aug Book Review – The Happy Economist (by Ross Gittins)
Those of you who live in Sydney or Melbourne may well be familiar with the writings (in the SMH and Age) of Ross Gittins, resident economics writer who’s contributed much in recent years to the discussions on the relationship between economics and positive psychology. Well, I’m very pleased to say that Gittins has now published a book, The Happy Economist (Allen & Unwin) which effectively sums up all of his thoughts and musings (based, I should note, on very thorough research).
And I’m very pleased to report this because I’m very pleased with what he’s produced! The Happy Economist (subtitled “happiness for the hard headed“) is a fantastic summary of positive psychology research from the last decade or so. If you’re familiar with the works of Seligman, Lyubomirsky, Deiner and others this might not have much that’s new for you but what it does do, brilliantly and uniquely, is put all of the positive psychology and happiness research into a social, economic and even political context.
So this is not a straight-forward “self help” book, although there’s much in it that I’d consider helpful; but more so, it’s a fantastic overview of what happiness is, from an evolutionary and psychological perspective, as well as what we can do to have more happiness, in our personal and working lives.
And to top it all off, Gittins’ writing is sharp and succinct, very palatable and even, at times, funny! Gittins makes a very good case for why we should all regard the pursuit of happiness as a matter of great intrinsic significance rather than a luxury. If you’re not afraid of reading an economist, and when it comes to Gittins you shouldn’t be, then this book has very much in it that’s to be recommended.