Tag Archives: Jonathan Haidt

The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

  1. This book is about why it is so hard for people to get along and Haidt’s aim is to remove the stigma and decisiveness of morality, religion and politics
Key Takeaways
  1. People are intrinsically moral and while this helped us create large groups that can cooperate, it also ensures moral strife
  2. 3 parts to the book –
    1. Intuitions come before reason and we therefore often have trouble changing our minds (separation of rider and elephant, reason and emotion)
    2. Moral intuitions can take on 6 “taste receptors” which change for every culture
    3. Morality binds and blinds
  3. Morality is about treating people well, more than simply not harming
  4. Society’s moral rules tend to put either the individual or the group at the center
  5. Moral reasons and moral emotions are separate processes
  6. Moral reasoning has evolutionary roots but is also learned through culture by understanding what hurts others
  7. To truly change someone’s mind you need to truly see things from their perspective
  8. The rider, reason, evolved after and in order to serve emotion. We feel an emotion and then rationalize it, not the other way around
  9. Appeal to emotion and intuition rather than people’s reason
  10. Reason developed to rationalize, not to find truth
  11. Evolution shaped people to care more about looking good than being good (reputation so important)
  12. Most people cheat if given the opportunity and plausible deniability. But only but to a certain point where they can rationalize it
  13. The difference in the mind between can and must are profound
  14. The 6 moral receptors –
    1. Care / harm
    2. Liberty / oppression
    3. Fairness / cheating
    4. Loyalty / betrayal
    5. Authority / subversion
    6. Sanctity / degradation
  15. More to morality than harm and fairness
  16. Sacredness and disgust are different sides of the same coin.
    1. Disgust helps protect us from overstepping physical and moral boundaries and sacredness helps us rationalize that we are more than thinking meat
  17. Republicans are better at aiming their campaigns at the elephant whereas democrats target the rider
  18. Group selection exists and leads to occasional altruistic actions and strategic cooperation (true team players)
  19. People obsessed with their reputation and this helped stimulate altruistic actions
What I got out of it
  1. An interesting addition to The Happiness Hypothesis. Interesting to hear about the difference between the average democratic and republican campaign and the different moral “taste receptors” and how people/cultures differ based on which of the receptors are most important to them

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

  1. Haidt uses an elephant to represent emotions and the rider of the elephant as reason. Reason attempt to control emotions but is often unsuccessful. This book helps define and clarify what truly makes people happy and what steps you can take to get there

Key Takeaways

  1. Happiness doesn’t just come from within as the Buddha or other sages claim. It comes from somewhere between in and out – people need both strong social ties, good relationships and being content from within to be happy
  2. Control your perceptions and you can control your world. There is no reality, only perception
  3. Central belief of Hinduism is that we all have our role to play and should play it well but not be attached to the results or outcomes. Be unmoved by praise or blame and contented with whatever comes your way. This mindset is required for happiness
  4. Decide that you do not want events to happen a certain way but that you want them to happen as they do happen. Amor Fati
  5. Success is often more often received with relief than ecstasy
  6. Feel more joy while making progress towards your goal than when you actually accomplish your goal. The journey and not the destination is what counts
  7. Happiness formula: Happiness = set point + conditions + voluntary activities
  8. Seems counter-intuitive but fewer social constraints leads to higher rates of of suicide. People need some boundaries to function and be happy
  9. Weak vs. strong adversity hypothesis – can grow from trauma vs. need trauma to grow. If strong is true, then we need to take more risks and chances

What I got out of it

  1. An interesting read which does a great job of making abstract concepts of happiness concrete and actionable through real world examples. Helpful to be aware that happiness tends to come from a balance of both inner and outer factors such as being grateful, not being attached to results, helping others, etc. Do not make assumptions or be tied to results. Want things to happen as they do happen. I think these two concepts are so simple and so powerful

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