Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Poundstone, Gilbert and happiness

I have been reading Paula Poundstone's "Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness".  She is a comedienne but that also means she is a smart, imaginative thinker. Some smart imaginative thinkers are also good writers and speakers.  Poundstone is one of them.  

She admits she doesn't know the secret to human happiness but if she did

I'd run up to the snooty street north of where I live and yell, "Put the yoga mat down; it's not the answer," to all of the people getting out of their BMWs. It could be yoga, though. I hope not. I've never enjoyed putting my foot in my ear.

Poundstone, Paula. The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness (p. 2). Algonquin Books. Kindle Edition.

It happens that I am again going through "Stumbling on Happiness" by Prof. Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist.  I have listened to the whole book twice, watched some of his TED talks.  He too is imaginative and very clever at inserting odd and witty remarks and examples, so much so that I believe he detracts a bit from the messages he is actually interested in communicating. I can cite some of his stories and examples but I am still in doubt as to what his main point is.

When I mention too many books and sources, I am reminded of a friend's complaint that I can't talk clearly because I am compulsive about footnoting all my sources.  I am not trying to give every footnote, just offering some titles and slants that might be interesting for somebody. I am also not that interested in being happier than I typically am.  I am happy enough. I can get myself into a state where everything is amusing, warm-hearted, funny, satisfying and good in one way or another. I find that not everything is genuinely good or lovely or upbeat.  I need to keep some sympathy for the downside of things.

Again, I often find an angle of interest when putting what is on my mind into Google.  When I search for "How can I be happy?", I get 6 BILLION results.  

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