The Secrets of Happiness is a philosophical inquiry into the nature of happiness. Combining wit, warmth, and intellectual authority, this book offers us ancient wisdom for modern living. Richard Schoch shows readers how they can enrich their lives by recovering the ancient philosophical and religious traditions of happiness--and then putting them to work in their own lives today. In a journey across cultures and centuries--from the trials of Job to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and from Buddha's Four Noble Truths to the ecstasy of medieval Sufi mystics--Schoch answers questions that, although fundamental to our well-being, are rarely asked: what kind of effort does it take to be happy? do you have a right to be happy? can you be happy if others are unhappy? Although Schoch finds that there is no single answer to these questions, he argues that every strategy for happiness can be placed in one of four categories: Living for Pleasure, Conquering Desire, Transcending Reason, and Enduring Suffering. (The book is divided into these four parts.) The one thing that these disparate strategies do share is that each takes effort. Happiness, Schoch posits, is never an end-point; it is instead a joyful struggle.
Richard Schoch is Professor of Drama at Queen's University Belfast. He is the author of Shakespeare's Victorian Stage (Cambridge, 1998), Not Shakespeare (Cambridge, 2002), and Queen Victoria and the Theatre of her Age (2004). He has also edited Great Shakespeareans: Macready, Booth, Terry, Irving (2011) and Victorian Theatrical Burlesques (2016). For a popular audience he wrote The Secrets of Happiness (2008), which has been translated into six languages. His books have been shortlisted for the Barnard Hewitt Award and the Theatre Book Prize. Schoch has received fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Stanford Humanities Center.
"An intellectual exploration of the best kind, a rigorous dusting down of ideas compelling us to think harder and better about what is life's most precious prize."
-- "The Sunday Telegraph" "Hugely enjoyable."
-- Julian Baggini, author of "What's It All About?: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life"