The Other Side of Happiness

Embracing a More Fearless Approach to Living

by Brock Bastian

'Required reading ... Brock Bastian expertly picks apart the fundamental idea that humans thrive when they approach pleasure and avoid pain, explaining why hardship sometimes yields richer lives that are laden with meaning, deep social connections, and unexpected bliss' Adam Alter, author of Drunk Tank Pink

In today's culture, happiness has become the new marker of success, while hardships are viewed as personal weaknesses, or problems to be fixed. We increasingly try to eradicate pain through medication and by insulating ourselves from risk and offence, despite being the safest generation to have ever lived. Yet in his research, renowned social psychologist Brock Bastian has found that suffering and sadness are neither antithetical to happiness nor incidental to it: they are a necessary ingredient for emotional well-being.

Drawing on psychology, neuroscience and internationally acclaimed findings from Bastian's own lab, The Other Side of Happiness encourages us to take a more fearless approach to living. The most thrilling moments of our lives are often balanced on a knife edge between pleasure and pain, whether it is finding your true love, holding your new-born for the first time, finishing a marathon or even plunging into an icy sea. This is because pain and the threat of loss quite literally increase our capacity for happiness, as Bastian reveals, making us stronger, more resilient, more connected to other people and more attuned to what truly matters. Pain even makes us more mindful, since in our darkest moments we are especially focused and aware of the world around us.

Our addiction to positivity and the pursuit of pleasure is actually making us miserable. Brock Bastian shows that, without some pain, we have no real way to achieve and appreciate the kind of happiness that is true and transcendent.


  • Penguin Books Ltd; January 2018
  • ISBN: 9780241239858
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: The Other Side of Happiness
  • Author: Brock Bastian
  • Imprint: Penguin

About The Author

Dr. Brock Bastian is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. His studies have been reviewed in leading news outlets such as Time Magazine, Huffington Post, Economist, New Scientist, Scientific American, CNN, ABC, Globe and Mail, The New Yorker and New York Magazine. Brock's pioneering approach to research has been acknowledged with the Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize, and his presentations have been included on the ABC Radio National Big Ideas podcast.