How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness

Russ Roberts / Jun 01, 2020

How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness A forgotten book by one of history s greatest thinkers reveals the surprising connections between happiness virtue fame and fortune Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after h

  • Title: How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
  • Author: Russ Roberts
  • ISBN: 9781591846840
  • Page: 122
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A forgotten book by one of history s greatest thinkers reveals the surprising connections between happiness, virtue, fame, and fortune.Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations But few people know that when it came to the behavior of individuals the way we perceive ourselves, the way we treat otheA forgotten book by one of history s greatest thinkers reveals the surprising connections between happiness, virtue, fame, and fortune.Adam Smith may have become the patron saint of capitalism after he penned his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations But few people know that when it came to the behavior of individuals the way we perceive ourselves, the way we treat others, and the decisions we make in pursuit of happiness the Scottish philosopher had just as much to say He developed his ideas on human nature in an epic, sprawling work titled The Theory of Moral Sentiments Most economists have never read it, and for most of his life, Russ Roberts was no exception But when he finally picked up the book by the founder of his field, he realized he d stumbled upon what might be the greatest self help book that almost no one has read.In How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Roberts examines Smith s forgotten masterpiece, and finds a treasure trove of timeless, practical wisdom Smith s insights into human nature are just as relevant today as they were three hundred years ago What does it takes to be truly happy Should we pursue fame and fortune or the respect of our friends and family How can we make the world a better place Smith s unexpected answers, framed within the rich context of current events, literature, history, and pop culture, are at once profound, counter intuitive, and highly entertaining In reinvigorating this neglected classic, this book provides us with an invaluable look at human behavior through the lens of one of history s greatest minds.

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    About "Russ Roberts"

      • Russ Roberts

        Russ Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution He hosts EconTalk, a weekly award winning podcast His Keynes Hayek rap videos created with John Papola have been viewed than 6 million times on YouTube His blog is Cafe Hayek His latest web based project is The Numbers Game, on which he discusses data and charts using annotated videos.Roberts is the author of The Price of Everything A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity, The Invisible Heart An Economic Romance, and The Choice A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism The Choice was named one of the top ten books of the year by Business Week and one of the best books of the year by the Financial Times.Roberts has taught at George Mason University, Washington University in St Louis, the University of Rochester, Stanford University, and UCLA.


    1. This book really goes a long way in taking a work written in the mid-1700s and making it relevant for the 21st Century. Adam Smith, of course, is famous as the father of modern economics through his book The Wealth of Nations: An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations. This book is based on an earlier work The Theory of Moral Sentiments in which he philosophises about human nature and human interaction.It is amazing how similar we are now as to how we were then. How simila [...]

    2. I think the author did a really nice job taking a 1700s tome I was never going to read and turning it into a little book that made some sense. There was nothing Earth-shattering in it: the main point seemed to be that happiness comes from trying to be a good person. The reason this is important though is the source—Adam Smith—who is generally used as the mouthpiece for dog-eat-dog laissez-faire materialistic capitalism.

    3. Sem palavras.A lista dos top 10 livros de 2016 ganha mais um forte candidato. Chega a ser quase inacreditável que um filósofo considerado pai da economia com seu estrondoso livro A Riqueza das Nações, tenha escrito um livro tão diferente mas de igual importância como Teoria dos sentimentos morais. Neste livro o autor traz os ensinamentos que Adam Smith nos deixou ao escrever, no século 18, a Teoria dos sentimentos morais, porém, de uma forma mais acessível e voltado para o mundo moderno [...]

    4. The author probably thought that his readers have an average age of twelve, I could not think of any other reason for so many explanations and elaborations on so many self-explanatory things. Or else, he wanted to give his book a respectable size.

    5. 'พลิกชีวิต คิดอย่างอาดัม สมิธ' เขียนโดย Russ Roberts แปลโดย สุภาภรณ์ กาญจน์วีระโยธิน สนพ. open worldอ่านสนุก เพลินๆ ดีค่ะ เปลี่ยนมุมมองที่มีต่ออาดัม สมิธ จากลุงแก่ๆ ท่าทางน่าเบื่อสอนวิชาเศรษฐศา [...]

    6. Russ Robert's EconTalk is one of the podcasts I enjoy the most, so I was excited to pick up his most recent book on Adam Smith's moral philosophy. It served its main purpose: I plan to read Adam's "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". The writing was very accessible. The overall message was great - something to aspire to - and I enjoyed Robert's insights along the way.What follows is a brief summary of the book.---Chapter 1: How Adam Smith Can Change Your LifeChapter 2: How to Know YourselfStep outs [...]

    7. Finally, an economist finishes and thoughtfully considers the other (and arguably more important) half of Adam Smith's seminal treatise on human behavior. Russ Roberts writes a wonderful narrative that weaves together the main themes of Smith's book, "The Theory of Moral Sentimants." Personally, I've struggled to get through Smith's complex rant on happiness and virtues. It's both repetitious non-linear. But Robert's analysis has convinced me that it may actually be worth the effort to slog thro [...]

    8. easy to read"If you want to make the world a better place, work on being trustworthy, and honor those who are trustworthy. Be a good friend and surround yourself with worthy friends. Don't gossip. Resist the joke that might hurt someone/s feelings even when it's clever. And try not to laugh when your friend tells you that clever joke at someone's expense. Being good is not just good for you and those around you, but because it helps others be good as well. Set a good example, and by your lovelin [...]

    9. This book is phenomenal! It reviews and distills Adam Smith's first book, "The Theory of Moral Sentiments." I never knew he had written such a book. This first book of Smith's iterates how wealth and fame do not assure happiness, but rather, being prudent and lovely will lead to happiness. Toward the end of the book, I started listing the people to whom I would give this book. I borrowed this book from the library, but I like it so much I am going to purchase it so I can read it again in the fut [...]

    10. A quick, interesting read about Adam Smith's lesser-known work The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Roberts shows how Smith's advice and observations - made a few centuries ago - ring just as true today. Chapters with advice on how to make the world a better place and how to be "lovely" in Smith's sense of the word are upbeat and easy to digest.

    11. Delightful and useful This book is easily comparable to "How Proust Can Change Your Life" and Russ Roberts mentions Alain de Botton's book as an inspiration in the acknowledgements at the end. Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments is much lesser known than Wealth of Nations but no less important. Readers will be thankful that Roberts has digested Adam Smith's difficult to read text - I love an obtusely written book and my copy of TMS has sat on the shelf unconquered for close to two decades - [...]

    12. This book is the closest I've ever encountered to a beach read about the work of Adam Smith. Roberts explores how Smith's other, lesser known book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, applies the same perspective as the Wealth of Nations on how human nature is rather than how it should be, this time with a look at human societies instead of just economies. If you don't have time to read Smith's book yourself, you should read this -- and even if you have, it's worth a read (and a re-read). If you hav [...]

    13. One of those wonderful books that is very easy to read but has deep ideas. It is fascinating how modern Adam Smith sounds once you get past the vocabulary. Reread September 2016 for the Sunday Philosophers. Enjoyed it as much the second time around. Makes me want to read Smith's book (I enjoyed the Wealth of Nations in college.)

    14. This is one of the most user-friendly books I've ever read regarding Adam Smith. Russ Roberts is a phenomenal writer, the subject is wonderful, and I would recommend this to economists and non-economists alike.

    15. พึ่งรู้ว่า Adam Smith เขียนหนังสือเรื่องความคิดทางศีลธรรมด้วย ชอบแนวความคิดที่ลุ่มลึก การควบคุมพฤติกรรมตัวเองผ่านผู้ดูที่เป็นกลาง อ่านแล้วอยากอ่านงานเดวิด ฮูมด้วยเลย

    16. Summary: Adam Smith wrote the book which formed modern capitalism, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations. He wrote a second book that isn’t nearly as popular: The Theory of moral sentiments. This book disects the theory or moral sentiments and it gives modern day examples. At a high level, Adam Smith’s is summed up as love locally, trade globally.Should you read the book: No, my highlights or any oth [...]

    17. Think of this as "Adam Smith for Dummies" although it's still a very rich read. More accessible/understandable than the style of writing used in the 1700's (admit it, you struggle with it also) this book is a guided tour that makes for a much easier journey through the original text. Russ Roberts does an excellent job of leading you through the densely-but-beautifully-written original book, making great observations along the way.I slogged through Adam Smith's more well known book (The Wealth of [...]

    18. Most people will have heard of Adam Smith and possibly have a vague recollection that he was responsible for a classic economics text. Students of economics and related subjects would be best advised to give up now if their reaction is Adam Who?So this was a surprisingly quirky, different book that draws on a lesser-known Smith book to show how we can live better lives in the 21st century. Yes, it seemed a miraculous, brave claim to make but as you dig through the text it does make a fair bit of [...]

    19. I got this as an audible daily deal. It's not what I expected, when I started it I thought "Oh no, self help" it's not that either really. I found it quite interesting - it has some wonderful insights into human nature. Standing at Edinburgh Castle's wall and looking out over the city listening to this book, as it explained Smith's theories of contentment on a sunny day was a pretty special moment. I don't know how far out of my way I would go to read this one if I'm honest. I don't 100% agree w [...]

    20. Big fan of self help books and big fan of Adam Smith. Although, this is not the Adam Smith would expect from "The Wealth of Nations". I took one large piece of the book and have began applying it to my life. "To be loved, and to be lovely". I explained the meaning and now six months after I read the book and my wife is now repeating that saying. Definitely recommend this book if you need a little perspective on life and understanding deeper reasoning to happiness.

    21. A disappointment. I knew of the author from his great rap videos on Hayed and Keynes. I expected more. I expected some great insight, as I knew of Adam Smith's other book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, but have not read it. I figured that Moral Sentiments, when read in conjuncture with The Wealth of Nations, would provide a clearer picture of capitalism than modern critics often apply. And I still think you have to understand what Smith was arguing in Wealth of Nations through his writings in [...]

    22. Russ Roberts does something amazing with his small book, How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness. Roberts, a distinguished professor of Economics and a prolific podcaster brings to life one of the most neglected books in western philosophy, Adam Smith’s, The Theory of Moral Sentiments and makes it 100% relevant for today. The author’s book can be used as a standalone guide for one’s life and/or be used as an introduction and guide to Adam Smit [...]

    23. Poorly written and filled with the plethora of filibusters, this book is not a scholarly or knowledgeable book; it is just another self-help book on the market. Even then, the text is unduly facetious and dry insofar as It makes me no choice but aver that he targeted the uneducated readers who are looking for an easy self-help book and feel absentmindedly and vastly rewarded for understanding all there it is pertaining to happiness.The author fails to adduce interesting and effective anecdotes i [...]

    24. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life (2014) by Russ Roberts presents a summation of Adam Smith's book The Theory of Moral Sentiments and how the wisdom in it still applies to the modern world. Roberts is known by many for his superb podcast Econtalk where he interviews various people for about an hour and allows them to present their ideas in detail.The book looks at Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith's morality is based on reason and a plethora of psychological motives. Smith believe [...]

    25. This is actually the first book I've read (and finished) on the topic. I started by not knowing who Adam Smith was except that he has something to do with economy. But this book focused on Smith's other great (but less renowned) book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. But since Smith's book was *old* and presumably thicker (I haven't actually found out how many pages it has though), I would categorise this as a light reading because the author summarised the book and retold its main points very el [...]

    26. As a fan of Econtalk and as an Adam Smith fan, I was basically destined to read this book. Still, I didn't have very high expectations, not because I didn't think highly of Roberts, but because it seemed like an idiotic idea for a book. Learning lessons from an economist who I thought preaches cold relationships and hot dealings? What does that guy have to teach me about life? And why is another economist explaining it all to me?Needless to say, I've changed my mind. I have completely changed my [...]

    27. this book is a compilation of tidbits of adam smith’s ‘the theory of moral sentiments’ extremely dumbed down, with unnecessary color commentary by the author, and smith’s book’s major points explained (over and over again, in different ways, as if to middle-schoolers). maybe that’s the demographic they were going for, based on the cover image, the simple vocabulary, and the celebrity stories used to explain a couple of smith’s concepts. if you understand english and enjoy reading a [...]

    28. This book is an exposition of Adam Smith's OTHER, obscure book. Most of us know Smith as the father of economics. But few knew before his monumental The Wealth of Nations, he wrote Theory of Moral Sentiments that perfectly captured human nature and the secrets to be content and happy. This book is very accessible, and the author did a good job distilling Smith's insights. There are explanations about human nature that were ahead of Smith's time. I was amazed by its simplicity yet accurate unders [...]

    29. This is a great book for becoming acquainted with Adam Smith's moral philosophy. It is evident that Smith was influenced by Stoic philosophy to some degree and his maxims for living a good life are similar to the ones of Stoicism. Roberts does a great job of summarizing a lot of Smith's ideas from "The Theory of Moral Sentiment" in this work. Overall, if one wants to become acquainted with Smith's ideas on how to live good life, then reading this work would be a great option. Adam Smith not only [...]

    30. I loved this book because it gives you advice about how to live you life, treat money, ambition, fame, and morality. It tells you how to find happiness, how to treat material success and failure. This book is intended to introduce the modern readers in understanding better The Theory of Moral Sentiments written by Adam Smith. For a deeper understanding The Theory of Moral Sentiments should also be read. I would recommend it to anyone because I personally believe it has the power to change lives. [...]

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