Christophe André

Leading a Happy Life The Psychology of Happiness Publication date : March 1, 2003

“We all seek happiness, but without knowing where to find it, like drunkards looking for their home with the bewildered feeling that it exists somewhere” wrote Voltaire.
We now know more about what constitutes happiness than in Voltaire’s time. What does psychology tell us about happiness? Can happiness be defined from a scientific point of view? And does knowing what happiness is help us to attain it?
Happiness remains highly personal. Do some people have a greater capacity to be happy than others? Can parents teach their children how to be happy? Can you teach yourself to be happy? Is it possible to achieve happiness at any age and under any circumstances, despite life’s difficulties?
The fact remains that from an emotional and psychological point of view, unhappiness is more “natural” than happiness. You can always find an aspect in your life that isn’t “quite right”. Negative emotions, like weeds, are vigorous. Yet Christophe André goes back to the eighteenth-century tradition of optimism and makes a strong case for happiness — in defiance of the politically correct view that regards the quest for personal happiness as selfish and weak and traces it to commercial pressures.
In this book, André shows readers how to identify the elements that constitute a happy life, to savour the minor “wild joys” of daily existence, as well as to nourish the great, lasting joys that must be carefully cultivated. He helps readers identify their “happiness profile” and shows them how to resist the temptation of unhappiness. He explains how to keep melancholy feelings at bay, how to avoid being contaminated by churlishness, how to cultivate intelligent optimism, and much more. In short, the author shows that happiness is possible.

Christophe André is a psychiatrist at the Hôpital Sainte-Anne, in Paris, and teaches at the University of Paris-X. He is the author of L’Estime de soi and La Force des émotions, and the co-author (with François Lelord) of Comment gérer les personnalités difficiles and (with Patrick Légeron) of La Peur des autres.