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Thrilled to Death: How the Endless Pursuit of Pleasure Is Leaving Us Numb

Archibald Hart

Personal Thoughts

Summary Notes


  • anhedonia—a feeling of joylessness and cheerlessness.
  • The term anhedonia is derived from the Greek a- (without), and hedone (pleasure, delight). The word hedone is also the root of hedonism.
  • How does anhedonia show itself? Anhedonic people smile very weakly, if at all. Someone cracks a joke, but they don’t laugh when everyone else is laughing. They express little or no feelings even when grief or mourning is the appropriate emotion.
  • The more severe the anhedonia, the more completely it shuts down the pleasure system and experience of any joyful feelings. Eventually, it can cause a severe emotional disorder such as major depression.
  • Simply put, anhedonia, the reduced ability to experience pleasure, is brought on, paradoxically, by the excessive pursuit of pleasure. 


  • Apathy is an “I don’t care” feeling.
  • You have no interest in what used to give you great joy. You can’t get as much done each day as before. You eschew new experiences and avoid anything that takes a little extra effort to accomplish.
  • Apathetic people are indifferent and spiritless as they shuffle through their chaotic lives, not caring that they don’t care.
  • Apathy is more likely to be a result of anhedonia, causing you not only to have a numbing of your pleasure center but also a numbing of your emotions.

Happiness Boosters

  •  Intentionally do something unselfish for someone else every day.
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes and quickly forgive yourself.
  • Give up expecting others to be perfect—just accept them as they are.
  • Whenever anyone offends you, forgive him or her without delay.
  • Try to simplify your life—do a makeover from top to bottom.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise every day.
  • Spend as much time as you possibly can with those you love.
  • Spend twenty minutes each day in quiet reflection or meditation.
  • Each day, take a few minutes to write down all that worries you and then cross out the ones you have no control over.
  • Every night before going to sleep, remind yourself of five things you are grateful for.

Thrilled to Death: How the Endless Pursuit of Pleasure Is Leaving Us Numb

Archibald Hart
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