Posts tagged "Happiness"

Keeping a Quiet Heart at Seventy Miles an Hour

In Booth Tarkington’s 1915 novel The Turmoil, the character ‘Bibbs Sheridan’ suffers a nervous breakdown as a young man and is confined to a sanatorium. During this period he composes an essay entitled “Leisure”, from which the following (stunning) excerpt comes. A nice addendum to Will’s yesterday’s post about happiness:

“A man may keep a quiet heart at seventy miles an hour, but not if he is running the train. Nor is the habit of contemplation a useful quality in the stoker of a foundry furnace; it will not be found to recommend him to the approbation of his superiors. For a profession adapted solely to the pursuit of happiness in thinking, I would choose that of an invalid: his money is time and he may spend it on Olympus. It will not suffice to be an amateur invalid. To my way of thinking, the perfect practitioner must be to all outward purposes already dead if he is to begin the perfect enjoyment of life. His serenity must not be disturbed by rumors of recovery.

Another Week Ends: The Geel System, Secular Happiness, GMOs, the Faith of Malcolm Gladwell, and Bobby Petrino (Again)

Another Week Ends: The Geel System, Secular Happiness, GMOs, the Faith of Malcolm Gladwell, and Bobby Petrino (Again)

1) Aeon covers the small, “half-crazy” Belgian town of Geel, where the mentally ill have taken refuge and been given a family for over seven centuries. Given its reputation in the 1300s after the martyr Dymphna was killed by her mentally ill father, the town has become well-known by Belgians as a place of respite for the mentally handicapped, where they are brought into a family and treated as such. The tradition continues today, and people wonder where the lines have been drawn between “therapy,” whatever that means, and “belonging.” The people of Geel even built a hospital on the…

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Seven and a Half Takeaways on the Scientism of Happiness

Seven and a Half Takeaways on the Scientism of Happiness

Reading books about how to be happy can be a depressing business… It doesn’t take a social scientist to see that a blizzard of how-to books on “positivity” suggests its lack in everyday life. Behind the facade of smiley-faced optimism, American culture seems awash in a pervasive sadness, or at least a restless longing for a sense of fulfillment that remains just out of reach…

Thus begins Jackson Lears’ extraordinarily insightful overview of the recent swath of Happiness books for The Nation. “Overview” doesn’t do the piece justice, though. Lears has provided us with both a history of happiness (in this…

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Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

Andre Dubus III on Tragedy and Happiness in America

From his interview yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, starting at about the 3:30 mark:

AD3: “Frankly, I have this belief (that) if you scratch the surface of any human being, across the country, across the world, at any moment of any day, even right this moment, everybody’s in some kind of trouble. It’s normal. It’s just part of human existence. I think that in America, we freak out about that. I think we’ve been sold a bill of goods, that we think we’re supposed to be happy all the time, especially if we’re successful.”

DR: “It’s in the constitution!”

AD3: “Yeah. ‘Life, liberty…

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Another Week Ends: Millennial Churchmice, Papal Forgetfulness, Meaningful Happiness, Postpartem Mirrors, Teaser Culture, Michael Vick, Anthony Weiner, and TV on the Radio

Another Week Ends: Millennial Churchmice, Papal Forgetfulness, Meaningful Happiness, Postpartem Mirrors, Teaser Culture, Michael Vick, Anthony Weiner, and TV on the Radio

1. The question of why millennials are leaving the church came back into public view this week via an opinion piece by Rachel Held Evans on CNN, the key line being, “What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.” Accessibility and format are not really the issue in other words; if anything, church-as-performance appears to be symptomatic of an insecurity in modern believers that has alienated as many as it has attracted. Evans believes the real problem is the What, not the How. Fair enough–the substance of much of what…

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Another Week Ends: Helpful Selves, Happy Meanings, Simple Saints, Good Bishops, Beloved Zombies and Portland Missionaries

Another Week Ends: Helpful Selves, Happy Meanings, Simple Saints, Good Bishops, Beloved Zombies and Portland Missionaries

1. Kathryn Schulz (of Being Wrong fame) wrote an article for New York Magazine that’ll get your motors running, “The Self in Self-Help.” It’s a bit of a conceptual quagmire to be honest, esp for those of us who consider God to be more than a metaphor, but it’s also pretty fun. Positively jammed with soundbites, a few of which include:

[The master theory of self-help] goes like this: Somewhere below or above or beyond the part of you that is struggling with weight loss or procrastination or whatever your particular problem might be, there is another part of you that…

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Five Golden…Themes! What We Just Couldn’t Get Enough of in 2012

Five Golden…Themes! What We Just Couldn’t Get Enough of in 2012

One of Mockingbird’s most distinctive features is the repetition. Like Christmas itself, we’re trying to point that one “old, old story,” that ancient theme, as we see it dug up time and again. It’s dug up in all sorts of places, of course, from 18th century poetry archives to slasher films, from church basements to top-tier corporate office towers. But it’s still resonating a singular focus–the Gospel–from these unforeseen, albeit obscure, sources.

Despite the wide-spanning scopes and intentions of some of our favorite “news” sources, the same thing unwittingly tends to happen. After all, reporting the news means telling and retelling…

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A Quick Calvin and Hobbes

Better Off Now Than Ever? A History of Happiness

Better Off Now Than Ever? A History of Happiness

In a recent New Republic article entitled Happyism: the Creepy New Economics of Pleasure, economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey provides a refreshing historical perspective on the contemporary world’s obsession with happiness. For better or worse, it seems that personal happiness has increasingly become the (explicit) driving force behind human lives. While selfishness is of course nothing new, it’s strange that its vocabulary has largely shed ambition, prestige, virtue, or professional competence as goals independent of ‘happiness’ – though they would still be included under a happiness rubric. Needless to say, the prioritization of happiness over these other components of a…

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Adam Phillips on Carpet Peeing and the Happiness Addict

Adam Phillips on Carpet Peeing and the Happiness Addict

Very much in tune with The Atlantic‘s explosive chain of articles the last couple weeks on “having it all,” Phillips goes into the mind of the misbehaving child, the unrealistic expectations we have about being happy, how often good is associated brethren with happy, and the gift that acceptance can bring to human suffering and sadness. It comes from his book On Balance.

There is one fundamental experience that every parent has with their child, and that every school teacher has with the children they teach, which is: you can’t tell a child that they are not enjoying themselves, you can…

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A Slightly Less Quick Calvin and Hobbes

(Synthetic) Happiness and the Difference Between a Challenge and a Threat

(Synthetic) Happiness and the Difference Between a Challenge and a Threat

In 2006, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert’s book Stumbling on Happiness was published, and it’s since become something of a pop landmark for the burgeoning social-/neuroscience field of “Happiness Research.” The Harvard Business Review recently caught up with Gilbert and he shared a few recent insights that I found interesting. For example, frequency is more important than intensity when it comes to positive experiences. And the distinction between synthetic and natural happiness, which was also new to me, might have some serious theological potential. Gilbert’s findings also serve as an encouragement, perhaps, for folks that find themselves in less than ideal…

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Fancies of Satisfaction: A Psychoanalysis of Pain, Pleasure, and the Good Life

Fancies of Satisfaction: A Psychoanalysis of Pain, Pleasure, and the Good Life

The New York Times blog snagged a brilliant interview with British philosopher and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips on Western culture’s fixation with happiness. According to Phillips, this notion that a good life is a happy life is a detrimental misnomer that consequently drives the individual into deeper dissatisfaction. Insofar as pain happens regardless, the pursuit of happiness is an unachievable end, an ideal unrealized. This cultural philosophy is fundamentally hedonistic, “evacuating pain” and caulking the holes with something more palatable. It sees pain as a privation–an appetite–and in fear seeks to substitute the appetite with an overfeeding of the wrong kind…

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The Subjective Power of an Objective Gospel

The Subjective Power of an Objective Gospel

This little reflection by Mbird’s Jacob Smith and David Zahl has made the rounds recently, first in Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology and second on The Gospel Coalition (where it generated quite the conversation!). We thought we’d repost it here for, you know, posterity:

The great Southern novelist Walker Percy once asked in his essay “The Delta Factor,” “Why does man feel so sad in the twentieth century? Why does man feel so bad in the very age when, more than in any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making the world over for his own…

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy… Or Else

Don’t Worry, Be Happy… Or Else

“Is Happiness Overrated?” asks Shirley Wang in a recent Wall Street Journal article, surveying the results of a recent study at the University of Wisconsin. The findings revolve mainly around the distinction between hedonic  and eudaimonic well-being, aka, short-term vs. long-term happiness, pleasure vs fulfillment, etc. Of particular interest to us is that, while not without some overlap, the two categories do seem to be somewhat mutually exclusive. In other words, what we think will make us happy and what actually makes us happy are often two different things. Moreover, the overt pursuit of happiness (“I must be happy”) –…

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