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Rationality and the Pursuit of Happiness: The Legacy of Albert Ellis

ISBN: 978-0-470-68312-5
324 pages
November 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Rationality and the Pursuit of Happiness: The Legacy of Albert Ellis (0470683120) cover image


This book reveals how the principles of rational living identified by Albert Ellis, one of the world’s most influential and popular psychologists, can be used by anyone to achieve lifelong happiness.
  • Reveals the 11 principles of rational living that when put into practice can consistently increase levels of personal happiness
  • Includes selected excerpts from Ellis’ writings, revealing the difference between the psychological architectures of emotional unhappiness and human happiness
  • Presents verbatim transcripts of private counseling sessions, as well as public lectures and demonstrations with people addressing a wide range of personal issues
  • Offers insights into how ‘rationality’ can be used by anyone to reduce the intensity of negative emotions, to increase the frequency of positive emotions and to promote life satisfaction
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Table of Contents

About the author.


1 Albert Ellis and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The Early Life and Times of Albert Ellis.

Albert Ellis' (Generally) Pleasurable and Happy Personal Life.

Albert Ellis' Professional Life was Self-actualized.

Ellis Speaks Common Sense.

The Dual Nature of the Human Psyche.


The Purpose and Goals of Life.



Ellis Abandons Self-esteem.

Finding Happiness: No Apologies Needed.

2 Why We Get Unhappy.

What is Unhappiness?

Thinking Makes It So.

Irrational Thinking.

Irrational Beliefs that Create Unhappiness.

The Strength of Irrational Convictions.

People Upset Themselves About Being Upset.

3 Refusing to Become Desperately Unhappy.

The Development of REBT.

The ABCs of REBT.

Disputing Methods and New Rational Effects.

The Elegant Solution.

Fun and Humor.

4 The Philosophy of Happiness: Principles of Rational Living.

Rational Principle 1: Self-interest.

Rational Principle 2: Social Interest.

Rational Principle 3: Self-direction.

Rational Principle 4: Self-acceptance.

Rational Principle 5: Tolerance of Others.

Rational Principle 6: Short-term and Long-term Hedonism.

Rational Principle 7: Commitment to Creative, Absorbing Activities and Pursuits.

Rational Principle 8: Responsible Risk-taking and Experimenting.

Rational Principle 9: High Frustration Tolerance and Willpower.

Rational Principle 10: Problem Solving.

Rational Principle 11: Scientific Thinking and Flexibility.

The Rational Mindset of a Happy and Fulfilled Person.

5 Love.

Love Slobbism.

Romantic Love.

Jealousy and Possessiveness.

Keeping Love Alive.

6 Relationships.

Encountering Suitable Partners.



7 Sex.

The Right to Sexual Enjoyment.

Ellis on Sexual Morality.

A Rational Approach to Sex Problems.

8 Women.



Dating and Mating.


Programs for Women.

9 Homosexuality.

Irrationality and Homosexuality.

REBT Counseling.


10 Work.

Emotional Problems about Practical Problems at Work.

Enhancing Decisiveness.

Poor Self-Esteem in the Workplace.



11 Children and Parents.

Parenting Styles and Discipline.

Overcoming the Emotional Stresses of Parenting.

How Parents Can Help Solve Problems of Their Children.

Relating to Your Parents.

12 Death and Dying.

A Humanistic Conception of Death.

Rational Living with Dying.

13 Rational Living in an Irrational World.

14 Albert Ellis Interviewed by Michael E. Bernard.

On a Philosophy of Life as Therapy.

On Religion.

On Spirituality.

On Politics.

On the Mental Health of People in the Twenty-first Century.

On the Future of the Human Race.

On the Future of REBT.

On Rational Beliefs and the Degree of Self-acceptance.

On the Need to Strengthen Rational Beliefs.

On Self-downing.

On Self-Actualizing.

On Homosexuality.

On Marriage.

On Sex.

On the Use of REBT in Diverse Cultures.

On the Use of REBT with Men and Women.

On Dispelling Myths about REBT.

On the Professional Acceptance of REBT.

On His Work Ethic.

On His Morning Mindset.

On Dealing with Physical Ailments.

On Satisfying Moments Over the Years.

On His Recent Pleasurable Moments.

On His Regrets.

If He Had to Do It All Over Again?

A Rational Approach to Happiness (Article by Michael E. Bernard).

References and Acknowledgment of Copyright.


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Author Information

Michael E. Bernard is a Professor at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Australia. He co-founded the Australian Institute for Rational Emotive Therapy, is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Rational-Emotive and Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, and has written more than 50 books and journal articles in areas associated with mental health, resilience, peak performance, parenting, and school improvement. He currently consults with business and the public sector on principles of personal effectiveness, and is Managing Director of The Bernard Group.
Michael worked closely with Albert Ellis for more than three decades. Today, he is recognized as an international authority on Ellis' work and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.
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“The book is a good detailed overview of REBT methods.  Summing Up: Recommended.  Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, general readers.”  (Choice, 1 July 2012)

"The principles themselves are taken from chapter 4 of Rationality and the Pursuit of Happiness: The Legacy of Albert Ellis, Michael E. Bernard's excellent summation of the great psychologist's life-work." (Jildy Sauce, 6 January 2012)

"This book provides a useful summary of what Ellis had to say on happiness." (Metapsychology, 15 November 2011)

"Al Ellis was a great psychologist and as Professor Bernard's book demonstrates eloquently, he was an unsung hero of Positive Psychology."
Martin Seligman, author of Authentic Happiness

"This book is the 'missing link' between one of the most prominent movements in the mental health field – rational-emotive and cognitive-behavioral therapy (REBT/CBT) – and one of the 'hottest' topics in the clinical field, namely positive psychology. By integrating the two, the book bridges a gap. Exploring the role of rationality in happiness, as conceptualized by Albert Ellis, the book shows (a) how REBT/CBT can be applied not only for preventing and treating disorders or for health promotion, but also for human development / optimization; and (b) how positive psychology should be conceptualized in a scientific manner, avoiding Pollyannaish thinking. Indeed, Albert Ellis convincingly argued that rationality is the 'royal path' to authentic happiness, and this book is a powerful guide for those interested in exploring and pursuing this path, be they patients, general public or professionals (clinicians and researchers alike)."
Dr Daniel David, 'Aaron T. Beck' Professor of Clinical Cognitive Sciences, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania

"This book is a labour of love! Michael Bernard has painstakingly transcribed a number of Albert Ellis's therapy and demonstration sessions as well as a selection of his lectures and has used this material to excellent effect to make Dr Ellis's views on psychological health and happiness come alive. A gem of a book on a gem of a man by a gem of an author."
Professor Windy Dryden, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

‘Albert Ellis challenged us to work vigorously to abandon the irrational and emotionally explosive demands that we tend to impose on ourselves and others, escalating manageable frustrations into seemingly unbearable disasters, and needlessly promoting anxiety, depression, anger, and guilt. With a refreshingly original emphasis on the pursuit of happiness, Michael Bernard has provided a well-informed and engaging account of the life and work of this famed rational thinker and therapist that will make Ellis’s work accessible to a broad readership.’
Professor Geoffrey L. Thorpe, University of Maine, US

‘Michael Bernard’s book reveals the importance of ‘rationality’ as a positive faculty of mind that enables people to strengthen their resilience and self-efficacy in order to not only cope with the inevitable challenges, demands and changes characteristic of our post-modern age but, in addition, through the application of different principles of rational living identified by legendary psychologist Albert Ellis, to live fulfilled and meaningful professional and personal lives. I confidently commend this book.’
Professor Field Rickards, Dean, Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, Australia

Why do I love this book? Why do I now insist that all my supervisees purchase a copy?  To put it quite simply in this marvellous book, Michael Bernard has managed to integrate one of the most prominent movements in the mental health field – namely rational-emotive and cognitive behavioural therapy with positive psychology. In what is a first, Michael has in essence illuminated the role of rationality in happiness, as conceptualised by the great Albert Ellis.
Dr Michael Carr-Greg, Clinical Psychologist and Ambassador for Youthbeyondblue, Australia

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