Monday, June 25, 2007

Does happiness really make you happy?

Before putting up today's "real post"—which will be Part 2 in our latest horror story, and which I hope to do by noon—I thought I'd mention an interesting article from Leah McLaren of Toronto's Globe and Mail. She writes about happiness, and whether it's been oversold nowadays in ways that actually end up being counterproductive. Leah, who has written quite eloquently about SHAM/SHAM* and related topics before, quotes me briefly late in the piece. Now, I'm not deliriously happy about the way she sets up the quote, or where she cuts it: It makes me sound like an advocate for stoicism and a particular kind of male chauvinism, and I'm not. In my interview with Leah, which took place several months ago, I quickly added that I wasn't endorsing my father's head-in-the-sand perspective on male emotions (or the lack of same). In point of fact, my Dad was a pretty unhappy man for the second half of his life, and he probably would've done well to examine the source of that unhappiness a bit more closely. Be that as it may, I think Leah's article is well-done, nicely nuanced, and provocative.

Incidentally, the title I chose for this post is pure silliness, lest someone accuse me, yet again, of being an "agent of darkness...." I have no problem with happiness, provided (a) it's an authentic, lasting brand of happiness, and (b) the pursuit of that happiness doesn't lay waste to everyone else's life in the bargain....

Which makes as good a lead-in as any to Part 2 of our latest horror story, a bit later....

* We've got quite a few new readers these days, so this might be a good time to reiterate the finer points of my use of the acronym "SHAM." When it appears bold-face and in red ("SHAM"), I am referring specifically to my book. (I also use a slightly different font, but not all browsers pick up on that.) At all other times ("SHAM," and in the normal font), it refers to the "self-help and actualization movement" as a cultural phenomenon.

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