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Publisher's Summary

Deep down, most people think that happiness comes from having or doing something. Here, in Alan Watts’s groundbreaking third book (originally published in 1940), he offers a more challenging thesis: authentic happiness comes from embracing life as a whole in all its contradictions and paradoxes, an attitude that Watts calls the “way of acceptance.” Drawing on Eastern philosophy, Western mysticism, and analytic psychology, Watts demonstrates that happiness comes from accepting both the outer world around us and the inner world inside us - the unconscious mind, with its irrational desires, lurking beyond the awareness of the ego. Although written early in his career, The Meaning of Happiness displays the hallmarks of his mature style: the crystal-clear writing, the homespun analogies, the dry wit, and the breadth of knowledge that made Alan Watts one of the most influential philosophers of his generation. 

©1940, 1968; 2018 Alan W. Watts; Joan Watts and Anne Watts (P)2018 New World Library

Critic Reviews

“Happiness is a sense of harmony, completion, and wholeness, Watts declares in this classic work. Though first published in 1940 when he was only in his mid-twenties and reissued now by New World Library, Watts’ book remains foundational in its early impact on his later work... rewarding and even enlightening.” (Booklist)

“Novel and interesting.” (New York Times)

“This volume springs from the depths of life and learning. It is wise and practical. The author gets our attention on his very first page...The philosophy wrought from these elements of experience and thought is profound yet simple.” (New York Herald Tribune)

What listeners say about The Meaning of Happiness

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  • Ryan
  • 13-04-2020

Good Concepts Hard to Follow Along

I recommend reading the book and skipping over this audio version.

The narrator has a relaxing voice, however I felt like he was moving too fast for the concepts to sink in. Even switching between titles of chapters it was like “Is this a new chapter?” Lol. He just kept going along at an even almost monotone pace. Maybe it was just me not being able to focus, but I had to try really hard to follow along and felt like I missed most of it.

It does not compare to Alan’s masterful way of communicating. Alan speaks so fluently and I get his concepts (same concepts as in this book) easily when listening to his lectures. This narration did not do him justice and it would have been so much better if it could have been narrated by Alan himself.

That being said I didn’t mean to shit on the narrator but if you want to get into Watts then I recommend just listening to his lectures on youtube or reading the book instead so you can take your time to digest the concepts.

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 30-06-2019

I love this guy!

The wonderment, love and humor within and behind the words is just a such a joy. Mr. Alan Watts, what a delightful entertainer.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-01-2021

Probably the most insightful philosophy meets spirituality book I’ve ever read

I have read so many philosophical and spiritually centered books that reading almost became a stumbling block in itself but this book has jostled me awake to at least a few previously unthought concepts that I have actually been able to apply to my practical reality

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  • Norman
  • 30-09-2020

Rabling off topic

I did not enough in this book on the topic of happiness. More the basis of Asian foundations.

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  • Joseph Smith
  • 16-03-2021

Great book.

Really insightful wonderful piece of work. Fantastic addition to Watt’s work giving ‘something extra’ that seems he was unable to portray in his lectures. When you consider he was only 24 at the time of publication it shows the astounding lengths of the mans knowledge of philosophy. Highly recommend

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