Tuesday, October 13, 2009

harmonic convergence

Nice, unpremeditated pairing of report topics today.

Kevin explored the link between personal and collective happiness, noting the osmotic phenomenon: a happy group can rub off on you, and raise your spirits. Alternatively, a sad group can bring you down. But wouldn't it be nice if we all made it a priority to make others happy? Wouldn't the personal happiness quotient of each of us then tend to reflect the larger pool of (what the happiness researchers call) "positive affect"?

Stephanie called attention to what I think of as the Frankl approach to meaningful happiness, summarized by that little Nietzsche aphorism My formula for happiness: a Yes, a No, a straight line, a goal. We can tolerate hell, which for Frankl was of course several notches hotter than T.J. Maxx, if the other side of it is atop a self-actualizing personal pyramid. Then , you'll always have Paris. Or Rochester.

Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, and Marjane Satrapi were Stephanie's examples of people who've pioneered "better methods" of flourishing (all passionately goal-oriented, notice), but they illustrate Kevin's thesis too. When you're willing to give of yourself, your resources, your time, your life-force to help others, the personal satisfactions redound.

Persepolis touches as well on my concern that "adult" emotional atmospherics can overwhelm a child' s experience, compromising her ability to find a personal identity and make a place for herself in the world.

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