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January 26, 2010

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Pam McClung/@Dieverdog

It's true that we all seek happiness - though I wager most or many of us often don't really know what it is that will make us happy. Many set goals and then find once they are met we aren't nearly as happy or satisfied as we thought we would be - if I only had X, I would be happy.

Happiness is more of a process I think, a way of looking at life than a destination to be arrived at. But, as you say, everyone is seeking it in their own way - even the founding fathers put "the pursuit of happiness" in the Constitution so it was on their minds as well.

There was recently a show on PBS about Happiness that I hope they replay because I only caught the tail end of it - and it looked like it was pretty good. I guess to sum up I will use the words of Joseph Campbell - "follow your bliss."

Artie Isaac


Perhaps my reading Elements of Style explains why I would preposterously claim that To Kill A Mockingbird is the greatest novel ever written.

Leigh Householder

Artie, are you really reading Elements of Style? Apologies, but I've been thrown entirely off track by your right rail. That does not reading material make. Perhaps you ought to rethink the TV decision. Or, alternately, I have a shiny new operations manual for my vacuum I might lend you.

(Truly, though, lovely article. You inspire even the most cynical among us ... and, in the AVLT land, that's actually me!)

Artie Isaac

[This comes from a long-time reader, John Huston:]

But the underlying premise that folks know happiness when they find it is flawed, and much research shows this to be so.

A better construct is not to maximize your happiness, but to diminish your unhappiness. Why? Because we are much better at articulating what is making us unhappy and ill at ease. Besides, this approach provides more concrete action steps. E.g.: "I am unhappy I cannot read more history." is easier to fix than “I will be happy if I have a red Ferrari in the garage.”

A better example: “I will be happy if everyone in my family loves me.” It is so much easier to think in the reverse, and I think more often leads to taking action.”I will be less unhappy if I strengthen the relationship I have with sister Nellie.”

In my opinion, this 180 degree approach is a fun concept. There are some concepts better understood in the obverse or in their negative, rather than their positive.

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