Winston Churchill once said: “The further backward you can look, the further forward you can see” – a sentiment still largely heralded today. The notion of using history as a way to shape our future is something we have discussed at length on the Potential Squared blog, and The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt, explores the most productive way to do this.

The premise of the book is to consider ancient values and extract the lessons relevant to a modern society. Advice on how to live a life of virtue, happiness and fulfilment can be gleaned from the ‘ten great ideas’ that make up the book’s key focus.

The Happiness Hypothesis is not a self-help book, but it can be interpreted as one. The aim is to guide the reader in their pursuit of happiness, which doesn’t necessarily come from within. Haidt argues that happiness comes from both striking positive relationships with others, and between yourself and your work. By taking a series of simple steps we can be in control of our emotions.

The majority of us seek happiness from life – both at work and in our personal lives, and The Happiness Hypothesis makes this seem highly achievable. As Haidt explains, “Happiness is not the shallow state of feeling pleased and chipper all the time. Happiness is the state of a human being that has achieved cross-level coherence within herself, and between herself and the people, challenges, and institutions around her. Happiness comes from between.”