The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Gad Saad — The Saad Truth About Happiness

The Saad Truth About Happiness (book cover)

Everyone wants to be happy. The question “How can I be happy?” drives countless decisions across the world, and billions of dollars are spent on marketing a wide variety of answers to it. Increasing evidence shows, however, that unhappiness is on the rise. Professor, psychologist, and host of The Saad Truth podcast, Dr. Gad Saad, is here to change the narrative and set readers on the track towards real happiness with his new book, The Saad Truth about Happiness: 8 Secrets for Leading the Good Life.

Already known to an audience of hundreds of thousands as “the therapist for everyone,” Dr. Saad argues that happiness is both a fact and an attainable goal. He contends that happiness is not merely a changeable mood, but a process toward which all people can strive by following basic steps known to humans for millennia. According to Dr. Saad, happiness is a scientific fact, which means we can measure it, assess it, and devise strategies to achieve it.

Drawing on scientific studies, the wisdom of ancient philosophy and religion, and his extraordinary personal experience as a refugee from war-torn Lebanon, Dr. Gad Saad offers a provocative, helpful, and entertaining treatise on how to strive for happiness, win it, and keep it.

Gad Saad, PhD, one of the best-known public intellectuals fighting the tyranny of political correctness, is a professor of marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, where he held the Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption from 2008 to 2018. A pioneer in the application of evolutionary psychology to consumer behavior, he is the author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption, The Consuming Instinct, and numerous scientific papers and the editor of the book Evolutionary Psychology in the Business Sciences. His previous bestselling popular trade book is The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense. His new book is The Saad Truth about Happiness: 8 Secrets for Leading the Good Life.

Shermer and Saad discuss:

  • an operational definition of the “good life” or “happiness” or “well being”
  • emotions and happiness
  • happiness as an emotion and a social contagion
  • eudaimonia (the pursuit of meaning) versus hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure)
  • genetics and heritability of happiness
  • cultural components of happiness (individual vs. collective)
  • WEIRD people and happiness
  • the Big Five (OCEAN) and happiness
  • marriage and happiness (mate selection)
  • health and happiness
  • walking, exercise, stress reduction and happiness
  • religion, happiness, and the good life
  • variety (as the “spice of life”), stability, and happiness (sexual variety?)
  • how to live the life you want—not necessarily the life expected of you
  • what the ancient Greeks got right about living the good life
  • how failure may actually be a key to more happiness
  • what “anti-fragility” means and how it plays a part in happiness
  • why your career needs to have a higher purpose than a paycheck
  • job satisfaction and happiness
  • a playful outlook and physical and mental health
  • curiosity and happiness
  • the golden mean and the inverted-U curve
  • persistence, grit, anti-fragility, and risk taking
  • regret
  • the dark side of consumption, to be found, for instance, in pathological gambling, eating disorders, compulsive buying, and pornographic addictions.

The Recipe for a Good Life

  1. finding the right spouse
  2. working in the right profession
  3. seeking the sweet spot (moderation) across many life domains
  4. engaging life via a playful mindset
  5. pursuing variety-seeking at times, across many domains
  6. ensuring that one is persistent in the pursuit of meaningful goals
  7. being anti-fragile when dealing with failure
  8. seeking to minimize future regret, in part by living an authentic life.

“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” —Victor Frankl

If you enjoy the podcast, please show your support by making a $5 or $10 monthly donation.

This episode is sponsored by Brilliant:

This episode was released on July 25, 2023.

Skeptic Magazine App on iPhone


Whether at home or on the go, the SKEPTIC App is the easiest way to read your favorite articles. Within the app, users can purchase the current issue and back issues. Download the app today and get a 30-day free trial subscription.

Download the Skeptic Magazine App for iOS, available on the App Store
Download the Skeptic Magazine App for Android, available on Google Play
Download the Skeptic Magazine App for iOS, available on the App Store
Download the Skeptic Magazine App for Android, available on Google Play
SKEPTIC • 3938 State St., Suite 101, Santa Barbara, CA, 93105-3114 • 1-805-576-9396 • Copyright © 1992–2024. All rights reserved • Privacy Policy