Posts tagged "Happiness"

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

1. William Deresiewicz’s clickbaity “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” draws in high-achievers and their parents to, well, pull the rug out from under them. Apologies for the lengthy quotes, but it’s very good, ht MB:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures…

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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