Happiness Is a Serious Problem

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In this unique blend of self-help and moral philosophy, talk-radio host Dennis Prager asserts that we're actually obligated to be happy, because it makes us better people. Achieving that happiness won't be easy, though: to Prager, it requires a continuing process of counting your blessings and giving up any expectations that life is supposed to be wonderful. "Can we decide to be satisfied with what we have?" he asks. "A poor man who can make himself satisfied with his portion will be happier than a wealthy man who does not allow himself to be satisfied." Prager echoes many conservative political commentators in complaining that too many people today see themselves as victims; he submits that the only way to achieve your desires is to take responsibility for your life rather than blaming others. Whether or not you agree with that view, if you're willing to put some thought into achieving a happier outlook, you will find plenty to mull over in Happiness Is a Serious Problem.

We are completely satisfied with nothing There is little correlation between the circumstances of people's lives and how happy they are.
This is the repair manual we should have been handed at birth

When you ask people abouttheir most cherished values in life, "happiness" is always at the top of the list. However, unhappiness does not seem to be the exceptional order to be happy, we first have to battle ourselves.

Happiness is an obligation--to yourself and to others

Not only do we have a right to be happy, we have an obligation to be happy. Our happiness has an effect on the lives of everyone around us--it provides them with a positive environment in which to thrive and to be happy themselves.

Customer Reviews:

  • Not bad, but should I have expected less?
    I enjoyed this book, but it's not exactly what I expected. He does argue from every conceivable angle that our expectations will set us up for disappointment, so I guess I asked for it. Somehow I managed to put "The Pursuit of" in front of the title because I tend to believe that happiness is a by-product of our service to humanity, but the book is actually about seeking happiness for one self. Mr. Prager does emphasize how we tend to seek happiness in vain through our quests for self-indulgence, and suggests that we seek meaning in our lives. He's very logical and reasonable, even if one doesn't agree with him on every count, but I don't find him to be particularly profound. I agree with him strongly on some points, but there is nothing new in his writing that would have me reconsider my own philosophy, or reflect on how his viewpoint might reflect a truth in my own experience....more info
  • 10-Star
    This book deserves many more than the alloted 5. This man, who hosts a daily talk show, is, in a nutshell, too good for radio. We should be thankful that we are able to listen to his profound thoughts on a daily basis. If he ever leaves the air, it is because he is, too good.

    This book will erase all your complaints, your worries, your stresses and conflicts. It will enable you to become happy. But, this will only happen if you are willing to critique yourself in an objective manner. Whether or not the man practices what he preaches is irrelevant, as we are all human. This book will not only inspire you to be a better person, it will make you a better person. ...more info
  • Wonderful, thought-provoking; a MUST read for everyone
    Whether or not you are a fan of Dennis Prager's talk shows, a half-hour with this book will prove to you that, not only can this man think, but he has an incomparable gift for elucidating one of life's key preoccupations: the trials and tribulations associated with one's quest for happiness. For me, this book is not so much of a "repair manual," as it is one of the most insightful, succinctly written books on how happiness is linked to human nature, philosophy, morals, temperament and values.

    Mr. Prager writes: "The greatest battle for happiness is with our own nature." If we can look inward and understand our drives and the intrinsic characteristics of what it means to be human, we then can use our intellect, spirituality and relationships with others to develop a stronger affinity for happiness. Or, perhaps, create in happiness an affinity for us.

    The author divides the book into three parts consisting of thirty-one chapters. If read from front to back, the book flows nicely from "Premises" to "Major Obstacles..." to "Attitudes and Behaviors That are Essential to Happiness." What I especially like is that the individual chapters stand alone, and are great for highlighting the author's views on very specific issues and problems. The most interesting ones deal with the dilemma between happiness and fun, the problems with expectations, and the preponderance of victimhood in today's world. Prager has some profound views on these, and many other topics. He makes you think.

    Overall, "Happiness..." turned out to be enlightening and quite easy to read (you won't need a dictionary by your side). I'd rank it at the top of my list (also check out "When Bad Things Happen to Good People") of books dealing with life's disappointments and successes, emotion and human nature....more info

  • Prager shows his inflexibility and lack of empathy
    First, someone had some comparison to Harold S. Kushner's "When Bad Things Happen to Good People. There is virtually NO comparison to that book, any of Kusher's works and Kushner the man.

    I read this being shocked that this work was from anyone Jewish, let alone someone who tries to claim that he is a religious orthodox Jew. Jewish teachings do not lack the imagination, loving flexibility and understranding of human nature that this simplistic nonsense does. I was shocked at this cliche of a book.

    It wasn't until a few years later when I read some material on the Internet from Prager and was embarressed that someone might think that this man is some kind of expert on Judaism. His words are about as opposite of any Jewish, truly spiritual and true religious writings as they can be.

    He is a hack that is involved in self-promotion with cliche's, and simplistic "dime store psychology".

    This garbage is more about what Prager would like the world to be, if people were robots, than any reality.

    He is the "Dr. Phil" of Judaism. ...more info
  • Are You Ready To Be Happy?
    In his wonderful book Dennis Prager makes a point that I find profound. One of the secrets to happiness, he claims, is recognizing that everything has a price. And you must determine if you are willing to pay the price or let it go. A relationship has a price. So does not being in a relationship. Is there a place in your life where you're bemoaning the price you've had to pay? As Prager says, either pay up or give it up. (description from M.J. Ryan who wrote The Happiness Makeover)...more info
  • Useful self-help guide to happiness
    Heard the taped version of Dennis Prager's HAPPINESS
    IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM . . . Prager, a talk-show host,
    contends that we are actually obligated to be happy because it
    makes us better people . . . but this is not as easy as it sounds,in that it requires a continuing process of counting your blessings and giving up expectations that life is supposed
    to be wonderful . . . it will only happen when you take
    responsibility for your life rather than spend time blaming

    I liked some of the ideas expressed by Prager; among them:
    Happiness must constantly be worked at.

    Everything comes with a price.

    The more often you ask what is the price, the better equipped
    you will be to handle life's problems....more info

  • Has some good insight
    I saw and heard Dennis give a speech on this topic. It was very enlightening, humorous, makes me want to get the book and read it all!...more info
  • Prager offers common sense guide to contentment
    Probably the most amusing anecdote in Dennis Prager's "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" concerns a Jewish rabbi who is unhappy because he can't find a suitable wife. When Prager asked the rabbi what qualities he was looking for in a woman, the rabbi's reply was: "A Playboy bunny who studies the Torah."

    You can probably guess what Prager's advice was, and what his worldview is regarding the relationship between happiness and expectations. Really, what this book is largely about is contentment -- finding ways to be satisfied with the status quo. Certainly he advocates doing what is intelligent and reasonable to change the circumstances if you so desire, but that most of our problems stem from dissatisfaction with situations that are perfectly acceptable, even though they fall short of our preferences.

    In any book that dispenses common-sense advice, the greatest risk is that of oversimplification. Inevitably, Prager falls into that trap at various points. Fortunately, he never makes the mistake of implying that the kinds of shifts in perspective he advocates are easy to make.

    Further, Prager suggests that a spiritual life -- with its implicit realization that there are some things we simply do not understand, but must nevertheless come to terms with -- is a desirable thing. This, too, mitigates the extent to which he might be perceived as understating the world's complexities.

    I purchased the audio cassette version of the book, primarily because I'm most familiar with Prager as a radio personality, and it seemed appropriate to have these observations conveyed to me in a similar way....more info

  • You Must Define Happiness, Through Your Own Soul Search
    I read this book twice last month, and once last year. I wrote so much in the margins, and on any piece of paper that I could get my hands on. I felt as though I was a kindred spirit with the author. And, I especially enjoyed his anticipation of religious people's argument against personal growth. I know that I will read this book again, between other books, especially after I read novels that contain emotional pain. Reading this book, has guided me to heal many old wounds, and to demand of myself to let go of past unmet expectations. It also has me more open to study religion, from an historial and social side....more info
  • Happiness
    A great book showing how and why we need happiness in our lives. Dennis is at his best in this short, vital editorial showing how we can become happy and why we are not....more info
  • Happiness is a serious problem SOLVER
    This book was a shot of B12 to my soul....a refreshing relief from "blame and shame" self help books that invite the reader to drag their stuff through paralyzing analysis until the clutter is overwhelming. Personal responsibility. Simplicity. But not an over-simplification of life. Just real healthy revelation in reader friendly format...short, succinct meaty chapters(1-2 pages) that help you eat the elephant one bite at a time. Nice....more info
  • Worth the read to understand the issue
    As was once said we've met the enemy and it's us ... that it is with happiness. I like Prager's writing and ideas and insight and this is good. IT was solid for over halfway and then I started losing interest not sure why if it was the subject of me. But bottom line if you have an interest in understanding why you might not be happy this is worth the read ... or just go look in the mirror. ...more info
  • A well-written, common sense guide to pursuing happiness
    This book is part common sense, part moral philosophy, part self-help encouragement -- and thought-provoking through and through. Even if you don't agree with Mr. Prager's stance, his clarity and conviction will help you arrive at your own position.

    I first heard Dennis Prager on a Focus on the Family broadcast. Since then, I've started listening to his daily radio show which I find much like this book -- passionately and clearly presented; filled with relevant, daily examples; and thought-provoking even if you don't agree with his positions. A perfect example of this is in Chapter 21 of this book, where Mr. Prager argues, "As important as happiness is, if you make it your most important value, you cannot attain it. Happiness is only achievable when it is a by-product of something else, and you must hold that something to be more important than happiness." The rest of the chapter goes on to describe six candidate values more important than happiness (e.g., passionate and meaingful pursuits, wisdom, clarity, pursuit of the transcendent). Whether or not you agree with his proposition, you have to admit it's a provocative thesis.

    One of the things I most enjoy about Mr. Prager's writing is that it never gets too abstract. He'll make a general point but quickly illustrate the point with a set of real-life examples and practial implications for your daily life.

    Mr. Prager has many Christian fans and has contributed much to interfaith dialog between Christians and Jews. Having just finished this book, I understand why: the values described in this book resonate perfectly with Christian values. (Though Christians would probably use the word "joy" rather than "happiness", as in C.S. Lewis' "Surprised By Joy".)

    I recommend this book for those who think that "Judaeo-Christian" is a contribed label that whitewashes over major differences in Jewish and Christian teaching on life, the purpose of life, and God. This book shines a spotlight on the many values both Jews and Christians hold in common.

    People who enjoyed Rick Warren's "Purpose-Driven Life" will also enjoy this book for its clarity, powerful writing, compelling examples, and freedom from religious or philosophical jargon....more info
  • Pursuit of happiness
    Dennis' perspective of happiness was thoroughly thought provoking and to the heart of understanding one's own pursuit to achieve happiness. I look forward to more from Dennis Prager for "deeper" insights in achieving happiness. Thank you for this opportunity to review this excellent book....more info
  • A Very Good Read
    Mr. Prager has a very good understanding of creating the proper mind set for happiness. One of the finer points for me was the difference between fun & happiness. If you what to find out a good way to view the things that happen to many of us, I recommend this book....more info
  • Life changing wisdom that transcends time and fads
    Interesting and very thought provoking. Concise and clear. Prager points out what isn't obvious to many: yes, you work at becoming a happy person. It may take effort to temper some natural "lesser" tendencies and elevate better ones, and for some folks, alas, it is just easier to be unhappy. But the discipline to train your thinking and habits that will make you enjoy life more is also a labor of love, and respect, for those around us. The book is worth it for the chapter on expectations alone....more info
  • great if you want to be happy !
    heard so much about this book that i had to get one of my own and im glad i did . my siblings and co-workers want to borrow it as soon as im done ....more info
  • This book is a MUST HAVE!!
    This book changed my life when I first discovered it ten years ago! Although, I have always been blessed with the `happy' gene, I developed a whole new understanding for the subject matter and a new appreciation of just how important it is to our world as a whole. Anyone can benefit from this book. I highly suggest getting one for yourself and one for someone you care about. As Jim Rohn said, you can become a part of someone else's testimonial by changing their life for the better, and you can do that with the simple suggestion of the right book to do that... I believe, this is that book!

    Dennis helped inspire me to create the website I launched on the subject of happiness just over a year ago.
    ...more info
  • Wow - What a powerful, life changing book
    I read some of those reviews and they are garbage its obvious they didnt read the book, I am a 23 y/o single male, and It is uncool to think and believe conservitave / central views. I am finding each time I talk to some one who is liberal I am able to get them to say you know what I never thought of it that way. Many of these issues were brought up in this book. This book should be a text book in school....more info
  • A must for unhappy people
    This is a great book! I have purchased several copies and have passed them to some unhappy people (ie: Mother-in-law). Explains how to understand how to be happy....more info
  • Good, lite reading
    Using his personal experiences and shaped by his religious background, Mr. Prager provides useful recommendations on pursuing the activities and pursuits which define happiness. Ironically, it is much easier to read about such things, than actually pursing them. This isn't an academic study, quotes no research or studies, merely reports his insights, which are often, well, insightful. The book is marketed for a mass audience (not a criticism), is not "explosive," or intellectually challenging, (unless you're intellectually challenged), but is in general, a Reader's Digest kind of reading....more info
  • Life 101
    Dennis Prager is the master of common sense. This book is easy to read with short chapters on practical life issues. He is sincere and honest in his views. Although I may not always agree, he always gives you something to think about. Every young person should read this. It is rich in wisdom. ...more info
  • We should be as happy as possible for those we care about
    Prager's opening insight is to my mind, the most important one in the book. The idea that our happiness is not our own private business, that we owe it to those we care about to be happy, seems to me a major insight. The problem of course as with most 'advice' even when it's the best in the world, is that it is far easier to give, than to take.
    This is not to pooh- pooh Prager, or any of the other countless self- help gurus who are always teaching us how to make ourselves better than we now are. It is only to confirm another of Prager's insights in this book, that 'happiness' is 'hard work'. And it is too also suggest another point I am not sure the whole 'self- help genre' really considers. i.e. that there are people in situations so difficult that all of this kind of advice only seems insulting. They can't do it. They just can't. Just as there are times when you and I can't . It does not in this regard make much sense to tell people to be grateful that they have been hit by a ten- ton truck , because they might have been hit by a twenty- ton truck.
    In any case this is a good self- help book. And my own approach to these books is to learn whatever specific measures, tricks, thoughts can help oneself from each book.Do not expect anyone to change your world completely. Find a few helpful thoughts or ideas and try to put them into practice in your own life.
    Again, I think of the idea of being as happy as I can for those who care about. But sometimes of course, no matter what we do, we just can't make it....more info
  • Gooooooood Book
    My math teacher keeps giving some readings to us once in every week. I'm a 16 years old and I learn lot of thing from the teacher. One day, he gave us a reading from this book. I really enjoyed reading this. I think my math teacher chose the best reading I've ever read. Even my English teacher doesn't do a good job of giving us a good book....more info
  • There are better books out there
    Mr. Prager hits many problems about happiness on the head. He says that people shouldn't demand unconditional love, shouldn't have unrealistic expectations, and his general point seems to be that people should (must) work for their happiness.

    Actually, his point about holding no expectations was actually the most interesting part of the book. But, this book does not do the "problem of happiness" much justice. Prager fails to realize that there are millions of people unlike him who are happy people, many people do not find happiness in the way he has decreed as the only "true" way possible. Prager's arrogant claims that a secular family can't really be grateful for anything and that divine retribution leads to human happiness are just plain childish and untrue.

    For a better treatment of happiness, read "The Conquest of Happiness" by Bertrand Russell...more info

  • Take what is useful and disregard the rest
    There are some thought-provoking areas which could be helpful. However, the book contained more intellectualization rather than insight, and at times, served as a platform for the author to showcase his achievements and knowledge. Prager makes several bold statements and generalizations regarding religion, relationships, and life in general, which I did not agree with. Especially with his opinion that ALL men are constantly battling their insatiable lust to be with other women. But like I mentioned, some of the concepts and perspectives are helpful. I just take what is useful and disregard the rest.

    ...more info
  • Six stars would be even more appropriate
    I liked the book. Nothing to add. Very serious and thought provokative. Need to reread at least every other couple years to keep things into prospective....more info
  • A Maudlin Man Presumes To Offer The Keys To Happiness
    Though I can find general agreement with what are to my way of thinking fairly common sense precepts towards achieving and recognizing happiness, I consider the source of the advice and question the efficacy of the prescriptions offered. One only has to listen to Dennis' talk radio program to have a sense that this is a man for whom happiness is elusive. Often disparing of the direction in which his society has taken, Dennis routinely sounds resigned and frustrated.
    Inhabiting a world of one-dimensional polemic caricatures, Mr. Prager is incapable of believing that happiness can be achieved without faith in divine retribution for evil doers. It is never made clear in Prager's treatise, exactly how and why the religionist remains faithful and happy knowing that his god will take action against evildoers in the afterlife, though sit mute and unmoving against evil acts commited in in the here and now.
    Rather than maintaining that happiness is obtained only through application of his prefered philosphy, Prager might benefit himself by accounting for the existence of consistently happy people that do not operate under a theistic worldview. Ultimately Prager is to happiness what the Titanic captain was to navigation....more info
  • This is by far the best self help book on Happiness I have ever read.
    The amazing thing about it is that it actually has a lot of humor in it as well! I really enjoyed reading this book and it forced me to re-think about my perspective on the way I compare myself to others. Reading this book will put you on the right track of the happier life train. Choo Choo and Woo Woo!
    David Jacobson: author of "The 7 ? Habits of Highly Humorous People"
    The 7 1/2 Habits of Highly Humorous People...more info
  • Great book, great guy!
    I read Dennis's book a few years back, and listen regularly to his happiness hour. Dennis has touched my life in so many positive ways I can't even count. Keep up the great work Dennis!

    P.S. I would be even happier if Dennis did an hour a week on stereo and photography equipment....more info
  • It Doesn't Make Sense
    To listen to an obviously unhappy man about how to be happy....more info
  • This book changed my life
    This was simply the best book I have ever read on this topic. It goes through every aspect of your life and explains exactly what happiness looks like. It does not go into extreme detail into each aspect but that is why it is awesome. You can read this and then if you need more help on any certain topic, go research that more deeply....more info
  • My hair stood on end
    This is one of the worst books I've ever read. What a waste of time! I am *happy* :-) that I didn't pay for this. The author just explains his own antiquated views about life and adds some bible sayings. I am not even sure he is a happy person himself. Prejudices on every page. ...more info
  • Let's get real
    The book seems to focus on excepting things that you have the ability to change to improve your life. If you really want ot improve your life, make the changes that are neccessary.

    Missing tile syndrome... Please....more info
  • Lower Your Expectations
    While I like listening to Mr. Prager, I have a hard time with the philosophy of decreased expectations. If I don't expect much I won't be disappointed from not getting what I expect! How can one live their life within those constraints? I believe that too many people have too low of expectations, they don't expect much so they don't get much and lead unfulfilled lives. If one wants to truly be happy they need to increase their expectations and then if they don't achieve them or if things don't turn out exactly the way they want accept it and move on. With low expectations how can anyone have hope for a better tomorrow and without hope you cannot have faith. If someone is looking to improve their happiness they would be much better served by buying Joel Osteen's "Your Best Life Now" and start expecting, hoping, and having faith for a better happier life rather than lowering the bar to minimize disappointments. I will not recommend this book to anyone and if you have already bought it: Don't read it!...more info
  • Good read
    This book offers practical and specific advice for increasing happiness. I found it to be a good reminder of the things we all already know but should put into practice more often. For example Mr. Prager relates in his book that comparing ourselves with others leads to unhappiness. I listen to this audiobook often to keep the advice fresh in my mind. ...more info
  • Dear reviewer - Shanbo

    I just read your review of Prager's Happiness book.
    As someone who is quite familiar with the man, I'll say that you don't seem to know him, or the heart (or sense) of his philosophy very well, and so come off quite presumptiously as if you do in your review.
    For example, I think he finds great joy (or happiness) fighting the evils that are hurting people in our society, yet you interpret his fighting as dissatisfaction rather than him working at fulfilling a purpose filled life of helping others. You disparage him for getting frustrated and showing this sometimes, as if one breaking a sweat whilst working negates the point of the work.

    In summery I will review the reviewer.

    Your review was foolish & mean spirited (eg. the name calling of Mr. Prager - "maudlin") and so sad, and demonstrated that you were likely projecting your own issues onto someone you have not a clue about.

    JeanPierre in Sydney...more info
  • Only If You Want Clear Thinking
    Dennis Prager thinks more clearly and conveys it with more clarity than any media, political or educational figure I've ever come across. I began referring to him as my "electronic Mentor."

    I've recommended his work to many others. Like most of us, once you read one of his books, you'll want to read the others, find his radio show, website, and whatever else he offers. After attending one of his seminars, many years ago, I bought every audio album he had. Since then, every book.

    He spent many years working on his happiness book. I trust he remained happy, even as he agonized over what to put inside of it. It worked brilliantly. This is a book that anyone who cares about living a life fulfilled should read themselves, and with their loved ones, including teenagers.

    When he shows us that happiness can be willed or just allowed (my words not his) you can find ways to move from stress to relief. From anger to gratitude, and of course, from unhappiness to happiness.

    As is his style, this book clearly communicates how we can have a better, happier life from the inside out. Go buy this book now. Thank Dennis later. I have.

    Tom Justin
    Author of "How To Take No For An Answer And Still Succeed."...more info
  • Changing your life by changing your mindset
    Current events make that happy mindset a bit harder to find. Dennis Prager agrees that happy is not easy nor even necessarily fun to achieve. His bestseller "Happiness is a Serious Problem" contains timeless wisdom; it is no less relevant today than when it was published 10 years ago.

    This "Human Nature Repair Manual" can be used in an aphorism-a-day sort of way but has none of the saccharine qualities found in that sort of self-help book. Prager himself notes "...the chapters of the book can be read in any order. Each...is largely a self-contained unit." The advice within is practical, spiritual but non-denominational, and written in the same, sane, soothing voice that Prager brings to his radio show.

    No sense paraphrasing that which works so well, so consider these bits of wisdom as you contemplate whether or not to order this book:

    "[T]he Buddhist teaching is of universal importance. If we understand expectations to mean certitude that something will happen, that we can take the good we have for granted...then expectations lead to unhappiness....and undermine the most important source of happiness-- gratitude."

    "...[I]deally, we should awaken every day and be as happy about our good health as if we had just received the wonderful news that a [suspicious] lump was diagnosed as benign."

    Need a guidebook for gratitude? Seeking sufficiency in life? This is your book....more info
  • how can you not like it
    As I read the few negative reviews of this book, the critics all seem to be commenting about Dennis the radio talk show host (whom they may disagree with on some political issue or another), not the contents of this book. The weakness of the book: It is based on common sense and not backed up by thousands of clinical studies to verify up each and every claim; thus at times, it seems a little surface and simplistic. The strength of this book: It is based on common sense and not backed up by thousands of clinical studies to verify up each and every claim; thus it is void of a thousand qualifying "but sometimes..." and instead is simple, clear and to the point. Just as we say, on reading an insightful movie review, "that makes perfect sense; that's exactly what I've always felt but just didn't know how to put it into words quite so clearly," so most people will say after reading each chapter: Yes, exactly, someone's finally put it into words! Congratulations, Dennis....more info


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