Tuesday, September 22, 2009

happy yet?

Are we having fun, in Happiness 101?

I know I did today, from the small ovation acknowledging that I'm not dead yet-- health and the drugs that are helping restore it are at the top of my happy list today-- to the Python song ("Is mankind evolving or is it too late?") through the discussions of virtue, transcendence, and Herodotus.

"Call no man happy 'till he dies," btw, is said to be a misattribution. "Herodotus actually attributes this to Solon..." And several variants are on record, including "Deem no man happy, until he passes the end of his life without suffering grief." Hmmm. That sheds some light on things. If that's what he said, I have to disagree emphatically. We're a more resilient species than that. I grieved hard for my parents last year, it hurt a lot... and I'm happy today. Yesterday too.

Hope we talk again about "trans-end-dance," moving beyond the "end" really is a crucial step towards permanent personal flourishing. And think some more about what you'd do if you knew you had a day to live. If you can answer that honestly, you'll know what makes you happy-- at least on my reckoning. No bucket list here.

I agree with those who say we shouldn't constantly pester ourselves with that question, but I still see no harm and lots of benefit in saying to yourself as often as you can (and mean it): "I'm happy!"

Don't forget to look at that other Python clip, if you really want to know the meaning of life.

One more thing I meant to to mention today: the "most-emailed" New York Times article in recent days has been Maureen Dowd's column claiming women are less happy than men. True?

Next up: Monsieur Ricard, the monk of Monk and Philosopher fame. Who knew a Frenchman could radiate such bliss? What would Sartre* say?

*Here's what he said: "Ah, and the myth of Happiness; there are those spellbinding slogans which advise you how to be happy as quickly as possible; there are the films with the happy endings, which every evening show life in rose colors to harassed crowds.

There is that language, laden with optimistic expressions, "Having a good time," "enjoy yourself," "life is fun," "Don't worry, be happy," etc. - and then there are those who are pursued into the most conformist happiness by an obscure malaise that does not know what to call itself... An American said to me, "The trouble is that each of us is haunted by the fear of being less American than his neighbor."

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