Punset’s Guide to Happiness
Eduardo Punset is an economist and science professor by training but a global intellectual and man of the world by deliberate choice. For years he has dedicated himself to understanding new scientific discoveries and explaining them to a lay public. Predictably, he has given considerable emphasis to discoveries about mind and brain.
It was to be expected that, at some point, Punset would turn his attention to new developments in the area of the emotions. Arguably, this is one of the last frontiers to be crossed in the elucidation of human behavior, and few areas of brain research have witnessed such fast and concentrated progress. It is also apparent that, in the years ahead, much of this progress needs to be understood by the public so that it can have a beneficial impact on human lives.
In his book The Happiness Trip, Punset helps with the latter endeavor by sharing his reflections on this broad scientific area using his individual perspective as the critical filter. Wisely, he makes happiness his focus, a welcome choice given the weight usually accorded to the negative emotions, those we were first able to investigate.
The book is direct, personal, and easy to follow. Besides alluding to a number of developments in emotion research, it concludes with a practical section, a how-to guide into the land of happiness. Were this guide not prepared by a man of Punset’s wisdom I would have been skeptical. But not to worry. Much as is the case in his interviews on Spanish television, Punset offers a calm voice and seasoned advice. You can indeed journey to happiness under his care. You shall arrive pleased and intact.
Antonio Damasio is the David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California. He is the author of: Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain, The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness, and Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain