"Arthur's Dobrin's The Lost Art of Happiness lives up to its name. For Dobrin, happiness is neither elusive nor is it a prize to be won by completing prescribed formulas or mastering twelve steps. It is rather an art to be cultivated over time and achieved through practice. ... In this wise and personable book, Dobrin leads us to the happiness to be found in love and friendship, community and beauty. To travel with him is to enrich ourselves in the wisdom and joy of the human experience."
DR. JOSEPH CHUMAN
Leader of the Ethical Culture Societies of Bergen County, New Jersey, and New York,
and professor of human rights in the graduate school of Columbia University.
“This is truly brilliant book—a wonderful mix of humanity, religious thought, science, and positive psychology. This beautiful book is deep and revealing.”
STEPHEN G. POST
Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics
at Stony Brook University and a senior fellow in the Center for the Study
of Law and Religion at Emory University
Though everyone wants to be happy, for most people the pursuit of happiness is a tantalizing and frustrating endeavor. Even in this most prosperous era in history, there seem to be more dissatisfied people than ever before—especially in the wealthy nations.
In this insightful discussion of what constitutes the good life, ethicist Arthur Dobrin argues that our pervasive and gnawing sense of dissatisfaction is mainly self-inflicted. As long as our culture emphasizes individual needs and wants as the primary focus of life, says Dobrin, we will never find happiness.
He contrasts our culture’s obsession with the individual with the emphasis on community found in more traditional cultures, where levels of satisfaction appear to be much greater. He concludes that the good life results not from the private pursuit of happiness but from relationships that foster mutual enhancement and are built on a foundation of compassion for others and justice for all.
The key is compassion. Drawing on recent findings in evolutionary biology, as well as philosophy, comparative religion, and literature, Dobrin convincingly shows that compassion is built into human nature. When we act upon this inherent moral instinct, by taking our neighbors’ interests to heart and viewing the world through the eyes of others, we are most likely to create a world of human flourishing. Only in this way can individuals find what they want most—to be happy.
The Lost Art of Happiness is both a meditation on the perennial questions of life and a practical guide for living a good life by becoming a good person. What are the implications of this? Dobrin explains through many examples from marriage and raising children to how to face our mortality.
Shipping Weight: 1lbs
Arthur Dobrin is Professor of University Studies and a teaching fellow at the School for University Studies at Hofstra University. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of more than twenty books, including most recently Spelling God with Two O’s and Business Ethics: The Right Way to Riches. He has been Leader of the Ethical Culture Movement since 1968, a cofounder of an Amnesty International group in Long Island, and a former Peace Corps volunteer.