Tal Ben-Shahar is a bestselling author of multiple books on happiness and positive psychology – a few of which I will review here in the future. He also created a course at Harvard University in Positive Psychology, which became the most popular course in Harvard history, attracting close to 1400 students each semester. Recently, Tal Ben-Shahar moved back to Israel where he is a professor and noted lecturer around the globe.
What drew me to his writings originally, was a post I read where Tal described how anxious he feels before speaking publicly, regardless of how often he speaks or how popular his courses. I was instantly drawn to his authenticity coupled with the willingness to share his vulnerability with millions of people, and I have been reading his publications ever since. Those same characteristics permeate Tal’s latest book Short Cuts to Happiness.
When I first read the book, I was surprised at how “light” it was compared to his other books. The critical voice in my head was expecting a breakthrough of new ideas and profound insights. And then I read the book again and realized what I had missed the first time. This book is a collection of lessons that Tal Ben-Shahar, best selling author and lecturer, learned from his barber. The book models through Tal’s personal experience, that the most profound ideas and values can be learned from our daily, mundane, ordinary routines. Some of the topics covered include: vacation, generosity, silence, being whole, praising effort, gardening, slowing down, authenticity, and dreaming. 41 short vignettes in all, each with a profoundly important value, all learned while sitting in the barber’s chair. I remarked to someone the other day that if Tal Ben-Shahar can write a book about what he learned from his barber, then we all have what to learn from everyone we encounter in our daily lives. For that lesson alone this book is deeply valuable.