Book Reviews: Is the Pursuit of Happiness Overrated?

If we stacked up all the books on how to be happy, the pile might reach into the stratosphere.

Professor Eric G. Wilson says the ideology of constant happiness has people in its grip. In his book, Against Happiness, he says many people read self-help manuals, watch feel-good TV, eat comfort food and pop pills, all to avoid the blues that are an inevitable part of the human condition.

Cherishing our melancholy, he says, lets us absorb the insight it provides. We should feel what we must feel: insecurity, shock, turbulence, anxiety and grief. These experiences introduce us to the beauty of the world with all its indifference.

In his 2007 book, The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow Into Depressive Disorder, New York University’s Jerome Wakefield says feeling down after your heart is broken, even so down that you meet the criteria for clinical depression, is normal. But today’s sufferers want a pill instead of learning from the situation.

There is one problem with acknowledging sadness and depression: often times you get no sympathy. Friends and co-workers just want you to snap out of it. Take a pill!

Don’t get me wrong, – I am an optimist and I love to be around happy people. I enjoy doing business with happy people. At the same I like sincere individuals who admit to having difficult times now and then. Experiencing grief often opens our eyes to understanding other people’s misery.

Zemanta Pixie

Leave a Reply