Thursday, August 12, 2010


I've always been fascinated by happiness literature, and have read many books about happiness over the last five years.  Last month I read an interesting book called Stumbling on Happiness that left me really perplexed.  Fascinated and perplexed.  The author talked about all sorts of things that researchers have learned about happiness.  Among these were
  • we can't predict how happy something will make us
  • we mix up current and future feelings
  • something bad won't make us as unhappy as we suspect it will
  • we're happier if we eat our favorite treats rather than having variety
  • our brains make up a lot of information that we accept as fact
Sorry, that's almost all I can remember right now.  (But if you're interested in having all of your assumptions about happiness shattered, the Durham Public Library has the book!)

When I arrived at the last chapter of this long book I expected some magnificent conclusion that would both rock my world and set me on a new life course.  Instead what I got was one super-short chapter that basically said this: we should learn more from other people's experiences, because their analysis of their experience is more likely to be accurate than our prediction of how we think we will feel about the same experience.

So much for a new life course.

Right now I'm reading a new happiness book.  It's called "The Happiness Project."  I really like it so far.  Instead of just telling me how everything I though might make me happy won't, this author is experimenting with different things to see if they do make her happier.  So far I highly recommend it.

This morning I saw an interesting link in the NY Times--an article called But Will It Make You Happy?  It's actually a great summary of a lot of the happiness books I've read, all in a neat & tidy article.  I like seeing that I'm doing some things well (if my goal is happiness) and I can see that there are some other things that I need to re-evaluate.  You should read it and see if there's something you could do (besides spending a week at the beach) to make you happier!


  1. How funny!! I read that article a few days ago and I actually thought of YOU! I wish the author had known your "tummy-tuck/ Hawaii" dilemma (or lack thereof)- what a great lead-off that would have been! I found it really interesting, because when I spend money on experiences, I frequently worry that I should have bought something instead. Anyway, now I'll have to get ahold of those books...

  2. I'll be interested in hearing your final analysis of the book once you are done! Maybe it will make it on our book club list?

  3. So interesting. I loved the article, and I've been thinking about it for a couple of days now. I agree with Katie, and the whole "tummy-tuck / Hawaii" issue has come up in my mind as well! - - - in my opinion, you are so good at 'experiencing' things.