We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, May 14. 2009
Happiness, George Vaillant, and related topics
I hate studies of happiness because 1) I think happiness is fleeting 2) Everybody's happiness is different 3) I think good cheer and happiness come from within and from a clean conscience - not from without and, 4) I don't think life is or should be all about happiness anyway: I think it is meant to be made of sterner stuff than that...but that's me.
Therefore, I believe that "the good life" is not a one-size-fits-all shoe. For some, it's about being half in the bag on a mountaintop. For some, it's struggling with impossible math problems; for some, it's exerting minimal effort. For some, it's about having good relationships, but many folks don't give a darn about that. "Happiness" is a useless concept and, to me, a "good life" means nothing more than an honorable, responsible Christian life, with minimal jail time, and some golf and tennis and a good man in it but, again, that's just me.
Joshua Shenk has a piece in The Atlantic on the now-72 year-old Harvard longitudinal study. He begins:
Read Shenk's piece, and tell me what you think. David Brooks wrote a commentary on the Shenks piece, in which he says:
Ed: Related, see some of our previous posts on the topic:
The Aristocracy of the Human Spirit: Freedom vs Happiness
Huxley's Brave New World at 75
Do Americans expect too much of marriage?
Happiness for Sale! No brain, no pain.
Grumpy. Are Americans hard to please, or do we just love to bitch?
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There is a complexity to human affairs before which science and analysis simply stands mute. If only.
The complexity to human affairs translates into human nature. If anything can figure out that complexity, it is science and analysis. Something our politicians could use if they had the sense. Whoever wrote that .... "...simply stands mute." is not very insightful.
Can you imagine being WFB's kid? That would be like being mentally waterboarded your whole life.
Not saying it's not possible. But as pointed out in the study, the variables are many.
Agree on being WFB's kid... not much freedom there I think.
Maybe he means 'if only' science and analysis would buzz off. That is, leave human nature to figure itself out. hmmm. Not such a good idea, methinks.
I'm thinking WFB treated his kid/s like morons and bored them to death telling them why they were morons whenever they had an original thought. The man was unable to treat anyone as an equal, and I know there are many who would say he had no equal. They would be wrong. What a loathsome man.
#188.8.131.52.1 Meta on 2009-05-14 23:55 (Reply)
I'm thinking ELC means science and analysis should just shut up, and let life go on. But I think that misguided. Isn't 'Know Thyself' a pretty big deal in more than one religion? It's a quest in which we have no real choice. Just more tools with which to confuse ourselves.
Loathsome may or may not be a stretch. But I'm quite sure I wouldn't have personally cared for the man in person. His inability to consider others as equal in some fashion or another very off-putting.
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Luther McLeod on 2009-05-15 00:05 (Reply)
I figure 'know thyself' is not something many religions promote. They want the person to identify themselves through their belief and whatever dogma guides their religion. As for it being a quest we have no choice in, I'll disagree. You've met people who have no desire to wonder about who they are, to understand what motivates them, content to skate through life like a little block of wood on ice. I doubt you find those people entertaining at all. It's curiosity - the gift of gifts. Metacognition..... What are you without it?
#220.127.116.11.1.1.1 Meta on 2009-05-15 00:12 (Reply)
Okay... perhaps most religions don't promote 'know thyself'. But then those only look for chickens who will follow the flock. And not for the independent minded who have made the choice to believe with mind in hand.
I do know the folks you describe... interested only in the next day's entertainment. But most I know do think about their purpose here. As do I.
#18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Luther McLeod on 2009-05-15 00:28 (Reply)
One of the more engaging things Christopher Buckley has written is his memoir of his father, William, and his effect on Christopher's life. It's called "My Old Man and the Sea," and young Buckley gave it as a speech at the annual meeting of our country's Movers and Shakers in The Bohemian Grove [I think that's the name] on the West Coast. I suspect you can still Google it and find it on the 'Net. I did several times last summer and was charmed each time.
Those of you who are sailors, as my husband and I were, will enjoy Christopher's comment that Buckley Senior "always crowded on too much sail -- great men always do."
Anyway, TomC and others of you who have gone to the sea in boats, will enjoy Christopher Buckley's essay/obituary/memoir, I think.