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Darwin Books SLAEI Series


Darwinian Happiness (Second Edition)


Evolution as a Guide for Living and Understanding Human Behavior


by Bjørn Grinde



About the Book:
     To be a Stone Age creature in a Jet Age zoo tends to cause problems. The list of consequences are numerous—from depression and suicide to obesity, drug use, insomnia, loneliness, violence, and wars—to mention only a few of the “diseases of civilization.” Are we prisoners of an environment that is at odds with the way evolution has shaped us, and if so, can we do anything about it? Can we use our knowledge of human nature to offer people more appropriate conditions of living, and at the same time create a more peaceful world? The author is convinced that present insight into the nature of being human can help us make better choices.

     There is actually a growing interest in applying the biological/evolutionary perspective to medical and social sciences, as exemplified by concepts such as Darwinian Medicine and Evolutionary Psychology. While the former focuses on the prevention of diseases, Darwinian Happiness is about utilizing this perspective to improve well-being in general.

      Our great feats of engineering, from building the pyramids to sending a man to the moon, have been the easy tasks; the real challenge in shaping the future of Planet Earth lies in dealing with human nature. We have the power to turn our planet into a living nightmare and a biological refuse dump, but it is also within our capacity to create conditions of living better than those we ever had. The principle of Darwinian Happiness is meant to offer a guide for living that not only benefits the individual—and should thus be coveted—but also works for the benefit of the society and our planet.

      Darwinian Happiness is written for a general audience as well as for professionals interested particularly in evolutionary psychology, behavioral biology, sociobiology, and happiness studies. It should also be read by politicians. 


Table of Contents:

Introduction: On Genes and Gurus (Download PDF)
Evolution: The Theater of Life
Darwinian Happiness: Why We Should Listen to Our Genes
Human Origins: The Age of the Dangerous Hero
The Brain: Your Personal Necktop Computer
Rewards: Use Your Head—That’s What It’s There For
Consciousness and Emotions: On Burns and Blossoms
Sex: The Most Important and Most Difficult Task
Mating Behavior: What Has Love Got To Do with It?
Good and Evil: The Pleasure of Compassion
Community: Making the Most of Our Social Instincts
Religion: If God Is in Your Genes
The Art of Seeing: Visual Delight
Sounds and Song: Musical Satisfaction
Is the Future Just History?


About the Author:

    The author received his education in natural sciences, psychology, and anthropology from the University of Oslo, with a Dr. Scient. (1981) and a Dr. Philos. (1984) in biology. He is presently chief scientist of a research section at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo. He previously served as a professor on the Medical Faculty, University of Bergen, and worked on various research grants in the United States and Japan. His professional work has, in one way or another, addressed the process of evolution, and he has published more than eighty articles in scientific journals in genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and human behavior.

     The question of how biology can help us understand human behavior, and how this understanding may help us improve conditions has been of particular interest for more than three decades. This interest led to the publication in Norway of a popular book, Genene – Din indre guru (“Genes – Your Inner Guru”).

     Dr. Grinde is a member of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society and the International Society for Human Ethology. He has also written articles for newspapers and has participated in radio and TV programs for the Norwegian Broadcasting System. He enjoys nature, both in the human form, and in the absence of humans, with a particular fondness for mountains.



To make a connection between evolutionary science and the pursuit of happiness, Grinde offers a fresh and easy-to-understand picture of how humans are designed and how we got that way.

—Evolutionary Psychology


Darwinian Happiness is replete with fascinating facts and provocative hypotheses, so that learning about happiness is interesting, stimulating, and thus happy-making in itself.

—David T. Lykken, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota


Bjørn Grinde has done a wonderful job in crossing disciplinary boundaries and presenting this complicated matter so eloquently.

—Ruut Veenhoven, Professor of Happiness Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam


A provocative mixture of scientific findings and imaginative speculation, this easy-to-read and enjoyable book offers the curious reader numerous references to an extended sample of scientific literature...



Grinde has done an excellent job in his exploration of novel applications for emerging theories of evolutionary thought in relation to humankind. The book makes for enlightening and entertaining reading...

—Michael S. Baker Jr., ASCAP Newsletter


Wikispaces page for the author, Bjørn Grinde:



Personal home page for the author, Bjørn Grinde:




Publication date: 2002

Glossary; Endnotes; Index

Size: 6 x 9 inches (15.2 x 22.9 cm)

52 Illustrations; 8 figures; viii, 409 pages

CIP L.C. 2002074108;

ISBN 978-0-87850-159-5 (hb dustjacket) $27.50 (Out of print)

ISBN 978-0-87850-160-1 (2nd Ed.) (hb dustjacket)  $37.50  Available at Amazon.com!