Happiness: Lessons From a New Science, By Richard Layard

A simple answer to the trickiest of questions

Richard Layard's sometimes dogmatic and dismissive tone ("Some people think we should not talk about genes because it might give the impression that a person is foredoomed to happiness or misery when he is born...

That conclusion would be absurd") can be off-putting. But as he's attempting to bring together scientific, philosophical, political, psychological and economic theories to establish what makes us happy, a little dogma and dismissal is probably necessary. Apart from new medical drugs to help with mental illness, the key to happiness he seems to come up with is old and rather straightforward: treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. Accessible, maybe, but a little too simple for some.