The Happiness Myth: Why What We Think Is Right Is Wrong
Jennifer Michael Hecht
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
"We think of our version of a happy life as more like physics than like pop songs; we expect the people of the next century to agree with our basic tenets—for instance, that broccoli is good for a happy life and that opium is bad—but they will not. Our rules for living are more like the history of pop songs. They make weird sense only to the people of each given time period. They aren't true. This book shows you how past myths functioned, and likewise how our myths of today function, and thus lets you out of the trap of thinking you have to pay heed to any of them."
The Happiness Myth is a fascinating cultural history that both reveals our often silly assumptions about how we pursue happiness today and offers up real historical lessons that have stood the test of time. Hecht delivers memorable insights into the five practical means we choose to achieve happiness: wisdom, drugs, money, bodies, and celebration.
Hecht liberates us from today's scolding, quasi-scientific messages that insist there is only one way to care for our minds and bodies. Hecht looks at contemporary happiness advice and explains why much of it doesn't work. "Modern culture," she writes, "is misrepresenting me and spending a lot of money to do it."
Rich with hilarious anecdotes about both failed and successful paths to happiness, Hecht's book traces a common thread of advice—she calls it "sour charm wisdom"—that we can still apply today to create authentic, lasting happiness.
than obedience and wildness. It was almost immediately apparent to some that this would not do, and the artistic and social movement of Romanticism arose to celebrate the absurd and uncontrollable. For Romanticists, life was for passion and unpredictability, for tears and laughter, for believing crazy stories and submitting to love. Ours is a world keenly shaped by Enlightenment science, democracy, and decorum, but even in the world of the rational, scientific, and objective, we have found a way
American weddings is brilliant fun, because instead of seducing only individual women, the guys seduce the whole party, and the women shake loose like apples. The way they seduce the whole party is by eagerly participating in all the rituals and thereby making the rituals seem youngish, charming, and appealing, which gives other people the permission (or even the idea) to gleefully embrace the round of rituals themselves. The plot of the film, unfortunately, is a tale of how romantic love stops
upon how much you value longevity and how much you enjoy parties, scotch, and cigarettes. Maybe “happy people don’t need to have fun” accounts for only a few kinds of people. There are also those who are not happy and also don’t get any joy out of Stafford’s kind of fun. The singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow’s 1996 pop hit “If It Makes You Happy” asked this intriguing question: “If it makes you happy / It can’t be that bad / If it makes you happy / Then why the hell are you so sad?” The alternative
death, a long and laborious process, and then, though it will be almost as difficult, teach yourself to forget death again. As with controlling desire, remember that the Buddha said his method was a raft you use to get to the other side of the river; once you have gotten where you needed to go, you can stop doing the practice. Make yourself face death and become familiar with it. Effect within yourself a transformation. Seek out a state of posttraumatic bliss. But once you have done that, you
people away from work and defaming the Sabbath. England went back and forth from Catholicism to Protestantism before it settled on its own rather Catholic version of the latter, so there were times when murderous tension surrounded these issues of sport. In England, pro-Catholic King James I issued the Book of Sports in 1618, and pro-Catholic Charles I revised and reissued it in 1633, both promoting the Sunday sports: “dancing, either of men or women, archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any