The Happiness Manifesto

So today Wednesday 26th January 2011 is the day that I become a published author!  Back in mid-October I got an email from TED’s Chris Anderson asking of I wanted to write a short book for TED. The deadline was late November.  I thought that it must be some sort of mistake – firstly TED do not publish books and secondly no one – not even TED – just give someone four weeks to write a book!  But it was not a hoax – or a mis-sent email – but a new venture by TED into publishing short to the point books for download only.

TED were picking up on Amazon’s decision to create a new type of book – a Kindle Single – I guess mimicking the idea of the relationship between a music single and an album. I actually think it is a genius idea as some many non-fiction books are full of padding out chapters simply to make up the work count that makes a real book seem like good value.  I often find I have got the main thrust of the argument by the end of chapter one.  So TED’s brief was to write between 10,000 – 20,000 words as compared to 50,000 – 100,000 for a normal book.

I have been planning to write a book for – well too long – but incredibly I had put November aside to try and start.  So I switched writing plans and set to creating a short to the point book based around by TED talk.  It was an exceptionally intense period – and a steep learning curve as it actually turns out that a short book is not that easy to write as it is quite unforgiving – you can’t go off on tangents at all.  Anyway the long and the short of it is, well a book – The Happiness Manifesto: how people and nations can nurture well-being.  I hope you like it – and if you don’t have a kindle, iPad, iPhone or other eReader – then I am not sure I can help you there (perhaps borrow someone else’s).

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7 Responses to The Happiness Manifesto

  1. looks great Nic – going to check it out now (and i don’t have an e-reader – but you can get free kindle for PC software which works a treat :-)
    with happiness
    Michelle x

  2. Liminality Surfer says:

    I came across your site because a friend forwarded the amusing hampster video ( At NEF I saw your TED Talk and the info about your book.

    The five items you mentioned have value but you overlook the forces that inhibit people from engaging these and what is required to implement them for real.

    Why do you begin by attacking environmentalists for a negative views of the future? Humans have always had this? Read the bible. Moreover, why not go after media for exploiting fear (getting rich off of it) or mega corporations that actually destroy the environment? Why don’t you criticize these groups who certain have more power and influence than lowly, poorly funded environmental groups. Or how about you get specific and talk about companies like BP that engage in murder and massive destruction without narry a slap on the wrist? I know you want a happy index but how can we arrive at happiness if we don’t confront the underlying motivations and powers, the demons? Don’t we risk merely simplifying the world, glossing over the challenges, and saying something that makes people feel better – especially those in power – without really changing things?

    Another thing greatly confuses me. I am so baffled. You are affiliated with:

    These all say that we need to shift our collective lifestyle away from consumer culture. These sites claim that at the root of global warming is endless consumption. One of these sites says:

    “we’re also going to have to actively confront powerful vested interests who will stop at nothing to prevent the changes we need from taking place. We have to be more than just consumers.”

    How do I make sense out of the following: at the beginning of the video of you on NEF is an advertisement for AT&T :

    AT&T is of the organizations that has more than enough vested power. They were able to spy on people and then get congress to pass a law that was effective retroactively, absolving them of any guilt.

    Moreover, you write a book that is ONLY available if someone buys (CONSUMES) a digital device (which will be thrown away soon enough).

    How are you not entirely guilty of that which you attack? And, moreover, aren’t you more guilty because you are hypocritical?

    Please, correct me if I am wrong, in which case I apologize.

  3. Hi Nic,
    Just finished reading your book and I really love it. From what you’ve written it seems that you may already be incorporating Appreciative Inquiry (AI)in your work. I’m new to your work, so forgive me if I state the obvious. I think there is huge synergy between your well being research, the 5 steps and applying AI to effect the changes we wish to see in a positive and sustainable manner.
    I wish you all the best.

  4. Peter Jones says:

    While sympathetic to your drift, I agree with liminality surfer, whoever he or she is. You are just not engaging with the massive forces of resistance and inertia that are deeply hostile to this project and what NEF stands for. Research, apparently, advocates connecting, being active, taking notice, learning, and giving. Our education system and child-care practices actively try to kill all these activities and impulses. Schools train children to sit still (active?), stop them noticing anything but what the teacher wants them to notice, destroys their natural urge to learn by forcing them to learn what they don’t want to learn. Only the secure and happy feel free to give and connect. This security is a rare item in our culture. You appear to ignore all these destructive tendencies. You refer to something as ‘adding shareholder value’. So if it doesn’t do this, you won’t do it?! The closest we have got to a revolution from below in the UK happened a few years ago, when people’s free use of their cars was threatened by the tanker-drivers’ strike. Vast numbers of citizens would prefer to be passive than active, ‘comfortably numb’. You apparently ignore the causes of all this resistance and passivity. We have got a much bigger job to do than create a few ‘lovely’ slogans and buzzwords.

  5. Pingback: The Happiness Manifesto | Ramubi

  6. Jason says:

    Nice work Nic. Very mindful insights. I especially enjoyed the points on flexibility.

    As a student of self awareness, charitable giving, and entrepreneurial productivity, I think your self described, “work in progress,” raises questions about our humanity that broadens the possibility of sustained prosperity…

    Kudos also for publishing the critical remarks (above mine). THE HAPPINESS MANIFESTO is certainly part of the solution, not the problem…


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