Review: Being Happy by Tal Ben-Shahar

Being Happy: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Lead a Richer, Happier Life

By: Tal Ben-Shahar
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Published: Sept. 23, 2010
Genre: Self-help

Barnes & Noble

A brilliant guide to living a happier life (even if it’s not so perfect)

Bestselling author Tal Ben-Shahar has done it again. In “Being Happy” (originally published in hardcover as “The Pursuit of Perfect,” 978-0-07160882-4), he gives you not only you the theory but also the tools to help you learn how to accept life as it actually is instead of what you think it should be. By using the science of positive psychology along with acceptance, Ben-Shahar shows you how to escape the rat race and begin living a life of serenity, happiness, and fulfillment.

With the same technique that made “Happier” such a great success, “Being Happy” shows you how to let go of unrealistic expectations and truly accept your emotions for a more serene life.


Recently, I over thought a simple term “I’m happy” and started asking, what the heck is happy? So I set out to my local book store in the self help section and picked out “Being Happy” by Tal Ben-Shahar. There were a lot of choices, but this one looked less feel good more facts.

The book takes on two point of views, a perfectionist and an optimalist. As this author writes it, an optimalist has the ability to be “happy” more than a perfectionist, but the book fixates most on a perfectionists behavior pattern. A perfectionist has an all or nothing approach to life, they’re always working towards the next milestone, they often find faults in everything and most of all they’re afraid of failure. Traits often found in a perfectionist are depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, social-phobia and OCD – all relating back to their fear of failure. As a perfectionist, a person has a rigid inflexible fixed mindset (which induces fear of failure) on the right way to live, the right way to do things. A perfectionist has a hard time dealing with feelings, treating them as they are irrelevant because they’ll deter from the ultimate goal. Eventually all these painful emotional feelings will back up, and will restrict future flow of positive emotions. To a perfectionist, their ideal is an unbroken chain of positive feelings. No success or conquest, peak or destination is ever enough to satisfy a perfectionist.

Whereas an optimalist is in life for the journey, and they realize in order to succeed in life, you need to fail over and over. Optimalists learn to grow from adversity, and take pleasure in adventures.

The author explains why a lot of the perfectionist vs optimalist personality types really boil down to how your parents and teachers treated you growing up and can be traced back to the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato.

I’ve self-diagnosed myself as an optimalist after reading this book, but I know several people who fall into the perfectionist category – so I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned with them to help them become happy. If you can relate to someone struggling with happiness in their life, I recommend giving this one a read!


It’s hard to pick a favorite part since I liked the whole thing. It was very informative throughout the entire book.


4 Thoughts on “Review: Being Happy by Tal Ben-Shahar

  1. never heard of this one but i like your review.

  2. sounds like a good book guide. 🙂 about Kissing Shakespeare, I didn’t like it so much, I’m afraid. 🙁

  3. Great review , I think i probably swing back and forth between the two. Sometimes I focus on the outcome and want it all to be perfect , at other times it’s the journey more than the destination that counts.

  4. Yay, thank you for sharing! I love books about Happiness. If you haven’t read it already I’d definitely recommend “The Happiness Project,” which I thought was excellent. “My Year with Eleanor” was also awesome and in a bucket list type sense deals with happiness. I also posted my summer reading list a few days ago on my new blog if you’d like to check it out!
    Thanks again!

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