ABOUT THIS BOOK
“Here, at last, is a book about what happiness really means, and why it often eludes us in our stressed-out, always-on lives.”
—Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive
A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature.
What is the meaning of the good life? In this strikingly original book, Adam Adatto Sandel draws on ancient and modern thinkers and on two seemingly disparate pursuits of his own, philosophy and fitness, to offer a surprising answer to this age-old human question.
Sandel argues that finding fulfillment is not about attaining happiness, conceived as a state of mind, or even about accomplishing one’s greatest goals. Instead, true happiness comes from immersing oneself in activity that is intrinsically rewarding. The source of meaning, he suggests, derives from the integrity or “wholeness” of self that we forge throughout the journey of life.
At the heart of Sandel’s account of life as a journey are three virtues that get displaced and distorted by our goal-oriented striving: self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Sandel offers illuminating and counterintuitive accounts of these virtues, revealing how they are essential to a happiness that lasts.
To illustrate the struggle of living up to these virtues, Sandel looks to literature, film, and television, and also to his own commitments and adventures. A focal point of his personal narrative is a passion that, at first glance, is as narrow a goal-oriented pursuit as one can imagine: training to set the Guinness World Record for Most Pull-Ups in One Minute. Drawing on his own experiences, Sandel makes philosophy accessible for readers who, in their own infinitely various ways, struggle with the tension between goal-oriented striving and the embrace of life as a journey.
Here, at last, is a book about what happiness really means, and why it often eludes us in our stressed-out, always-on lives. Adam Sandel, a young philosopher with wisdom beyond his years, ranges from Socrates to popular culture to show that happiness is not about piling up achievements but about living life as a journey, in harmony with nature and in the company of friends.
-- Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive
Happiness in Action points the way to a deeper life. In this spirited and humane book, Adam Sandel shows that happiness does not lie in a string of accomplishments, but in attending to the moments that unfold as we are absorbed in meaningful activities, and forging from these moments the narrative coherence of our lives.
-- Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
Adam Sandel’s book will help bring philosophy back to the place it once held—as a central pursuit whose value is open to all. His philosophical exposition unwinds itself with grace and clarity, giving readers a new and richer understanding of what it means to live for the journey.
-- Sean D. Kelly, coauthor of All Things Shining
A remarkable book. It addresses an omnipresent and vexing subject—how to live a fulfilling life—with verve, creativity, and wisdom. Adam Sandel’s eloquent prescription bristles with insights drawn from deep study and fearless reflection. I was surprised, enthralled, instructed, and elevated as I read.
-- Randall Kennedy, author of Say It Loud!
Proposes that fulfillment comes not from racking up successes, but from losing ourselves in activities that we find meaningful…Offers much to ponder; Sandel’s critiques of technology and its effects on our judgment and agency are particularly resonant.
-- Christian Science Monitor
Adam Sandel brings learning, wisdom, and clarity to age-old questions about how to live a life of happiness and meaning. At once immersed in the insights from classical Western thinkers and alert to his own experiences and challenges, Sandel offers perspective and consolation relevant to our challenging times, and perhaps, to any age.
-- Martha Minow, author of When Should Law Forgive?
Drawing on his own experiences, Sandel makes philosophy accessible for readers who, in their own infinitely various ways, struggle with the tension between goal-oriented striving and the embrace of life as a journey.
-- Daniel Moran New Books Network
Through thoughtful engagement with ancient philosophy, Sandel proves there are still fresh arguments to be made about how to live a fulfilling life. Falling somewhere between an erudite self-help manual and an accessible philosophical treatise, this provides plenty to ponder.
-- Publishers Weekly
Adam Sandel’s book reclaims for philosophy what has recently been captured by the vast self-help literature: the question of how to live a good and worthy life. Sandel offers a compelling critique of goal-driven activity and offers a moving alternative that emphasizes the virtues of self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Written with great clarity in a wonderfully compelling manner, this exquisite work engages the vital questions of how to live without jargon and yet with depth and subtlety.
-- Moshe Halbertal, author of Maimonides: Life and Thought