Conquer happiness with Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell, third Earl of Russell, was born in Wales on May 18, 1872. An unhappy child belonging to the nobility, he lost his parents when he was only three years old and raised by his strict paternal grandparents, he took refuge in mathematics, without which according to confessed, he would have committed suicide. Academic of Harvard, Cambridge and Berkeley, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950, the philosopher defined himself likewise with these words: ‘I have imagined myself successively as a liberal, a socialist or a pacifist. I have never been, however, any of these things. Always the skeptical intellect has whispered doubts to me.’

Brilliant and restless mind, made his life a crusade in pursuit of happiness.

Thus, in 1930, he would publish the work that concerns us, To the conquest of happiness.

The comic ‘Logicomix’ starring Bertrand Russell became an international bestseller in 2011

Third parties

‘I have written this book based on the conviction that many people who are unhappy could become happy if they make a well-directed effort,’ he would point out in his foreword.

The work is a clear and entertaining analysis of the reasons that make us unhappy and those that, on the contrary, make us happy. Thus, as a manual, it appears divided into two parts: in the first, Russell dwells on the causes of unhappiness, and in the second he focuses on the causes of happiness.

And each one of them is divided in turn into small chapters in which it deals with the various aspects of each state.

Bertrand Russell plays a game of chess with fellow philosopher Hapishane Mektupları

Bertrand Russell plays a game of chess with his son, John Conrad ı

Third parties

In unhappiness he speaks of competition -or competitiveness-, boredom and excitement, fatigue, envy, feeling of sin, persecution mania -or victimhood- and fear of public opinion.

While in the part corresponding to happiness, it focuses on enthusiasm, affection, family, work, non-personal interests, effort and resignation.

We reproduce 20 of his maxims in pursuit of achieving it:

1. ‘The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your relations to the things and people you care about be, as far as possible, friendly and not hostile.’



Bertrand Russell, telling stories to the little pupils at the Hampshire Experimental School, about 1935. (Third)

2. ‘Among all forms of caution, caution in love is possibly the most lethal to true happiness.’

3. ‘Never try to discourage the idea that you will succeed.’

4. ‘When you meet opposition, even if it is from your wife or your children, try to overcome it with arguments and not by authority, the victory that depends on authority is unreal and illusory.’

5 . ‘Have no respect for the authority of others, because there are always opposing authorities to be found’.


Bertrand Russell leading an anti-nuclear march in London in 1961.

Third parties

6.’ Do not use power to suppress opinions that you think are harmful, for if you do, the opinions will suppress you.’

7. ‘Happiness that requires intoxication, of whatever kind, is spurious and unsatisfying. Genuinely satisfying happiness is accompanied by the full exercise of our faculties and the full understanding of the world in which we live’.

8. ‘Seek more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, since, if you value intelligence properly, the former implies deeper agreement than the latter.’

9. ‘Be scrupulously truthful, even when the truth is uncomfortable, because it is more uncomfortable to try to hide it.’

10. ‘Do not be envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool believes that this is happiness.’

Russell during a peace rally

Russell during a peace rally

Third parties

11. ‘A symptom of approaching a nervous breakdown is believing that your work is tremendously important.’

12. ‘Men are not happy in a prison, and the passions locked up within ourselves constitute the worst of prisons.

13. ‘The happy man is the one who lives objectively, the one who is free in his affections and has broad interests, the one who secures his happiness through these interests and affections which, in turn, make him the object of interest and affection of many others’.

14. ‘Lacking some of the things one desires is an indispensable condition for happiness’.

Russell with his young wife and former secretary, Patricia Spence and their newborn baby, in the grounds of their home in Harting, London, on May 29, 1937

Russell with his young wife and former secretary, Patricia Spence and their newborn baby, in the grounds of their home in Harting, London, on May 29, 1937

Third parties

15. ‘Do not be afraid to be eccentric in your opinions, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.’

16. ‘Don’t think it’s worth proceeding by concealing evidence, the evidence is sure to come to light.’

17. ‘Lacking some of the things one desires is an indispensable condition for happiness’.

18. ‘Happiness has to be a conquest, and not a gift from the gods’.

19. ‘A happy life has to be, to a large extent, a quiet life, because only in a quiet environment can you live true joy’.

20. ‘Whoever wishes to increase human happiness should seek to increase admiration and reduce envy’.

We trust that after reading them and Putting them into practice will make you happier.

We would like to thank the author of this write-up for this awesome material

Conquer happiness with Bertrand Russell