Home > NewsRelease > Arthur C. Brooks — How to Be Happy, Reverse Bucket Lists, The Four False Idols, Muscular Philosophies, Practical Inoculation Against the Darkness, and More (#692)
Arthur C. Brooks — How to Be Happy, Reverse Bucket Lists, The Four False Idols, Muscular Philosophies, Practical Inoculation Against the Darkness, and More (#692)
Tim Ferriss - Productivity, Digital Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship Tim Ferriss - Productivity, Digital Lifestyles and Entrepreneurship
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Monday, September 11, 2023

Illustration via 99designs

“Intention is fine, but attachment is bad.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks (@arthurbrooks) is the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches courses on leadership and happiness. He is also a columnist at The Atlantic, where he writes the popular “How to Build a Life” column. Brooks is the author of 13 books, including the 2022 #1 New York Times bestseller From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life and his newest Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier with co-author Oprah Winfrey. He speaks to audiences all around the world about human happiness and works to raise well-being within private companies, universities, public agencies, and community organizations.

Please enjoy!

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#692: Arthur C. Brooks — How to Be Happy, Reverse Bucket Lists, The Four False Idols, Muscular Philosophies, Practical Inoculation Against the Darkness, and More

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Want to hear another episode with someone who leads the world toward greater kindness by example? Have a listen to my most recent conversation with Jack Kornfield in which we discussed the point of consciousness, yogic swoons and anesthetic autopiloting, how the Buddha might deal with anxiety, the dimensions of meditation, reliably eliciting the non-self, cultivating a more joyful mind, and much more.

#684: Jack Kornfield — How to Reduce Anxiety and Polish the Lens of Consciousness

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.



  • Connect with Arthur C. Brooks:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok


Editor’s Note: Timestamps will be added shortly.

  • The reverse bucket list.
  • Intention without attachment.
  • Writing Thích Nh?t H?nh’s obituary.
  • Buddhist views through a Catholic lens.
  • Occlusion training and physical fitness over 40.
  • Arthur’s semi-mystical teenage experiences in Mexico.
  • Arthur’s academic dad on complex vs. complicated.
  • Happiness hygiene for genetically baseline gloominess.
  • Happiness and unhappiness: hand in hand.
  • Being effective with one’s affects.
  • The three macronutrients of happiness.
  • Identifying (and learning to live with) our idols.
  • Secularly securing transcendent perspective.
  • Money doesn’t buy happiness — it lowers unhappiness.
  • Tithing and adoption.
  • How Arthur and his wife met, and how their values aligned over time.
  • Advice for seeking love in the modern world.
  • Death meditation.
  • Finding personal purpose and meaning.
  • Four fundamental micronutrients of happiness.
  • Translating a need for change into action.
  • Aristotle’s secrets to happiness.
  • Real friends help us put the kibosh on self-deception.
  • Reflecting on the repercussions of living for the mirror’s approval.
  • Collaborating with Oprah on Build the Life You Want.
  • The point Arthur hopes people don’t miss in Build the Life You Want.
  • Reading recommendation: The Noonday Demon.
  • Exposure therapy: making pain part of one’s medicine.
  • A practical way to be grateful for life’s bad things.
  • Parting thoughts.


“Happiness is not the goal and unhappiness is not the enemy. Getting happier is the goal.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“Physical fitness, for me, is a way to manage my negative affect. It’s actually a happiness technique for me. It doesn’t make me happier. It makes me less unhappy. That’s what physical fitness will do — it’ll buy you less unhappiness.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“The best marriages are completely honest, but the honesty is a gift and never a weapon.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“Most learning doesn’t happen when the professor talks about something. If you understand everything the professor says, it’s not a hard enough class, and you don’t have a very good professor. He has to blow your mind with something, and you’ve got to go away and think about it. And then you learn it through your own thinking. That’s analytical meditation, or mental prayer.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“The number one thing that Oprah and I will be very disappointed about is that people don’t actually become more fully alive through the transcendent passage of both happierness and the unhappiness that is a part of what it means to be a real person.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“My goal is training [people] to be happiness teachers. … Understand, change your habits, share with others.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“Intention is fine, but attachment is bad.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“It is the voyage itself that is the adventure of life, not actually reaching the particular destination — whether it’s the original one or one that turns out to be better or worse or wherever you wind up. And that’s the way you’ve got to live your life.”

— Arthur C. Brooks

“One of the things that I teach my students at HBS is that I would never invest in the firm of an entrepreneur who’s unwilling to give her or his heart away. Because it’s the single most risky entrepreneurial thing that you can do, putting every bit of capital at risk. If you’re not willing to give your heart away, I’m not going to put my money in your fund.”

— Arthur C. Brooks


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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Name: Tim Ferriss
Title: Author, Princeton University Guest Lecturer
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Dateline: San Francisco, CA United States
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