Happy and Happier

I like “The Happiness Hypothesis” a lot although I don’t always agree with the author. His elephant metaphor is very apt and I too have often felt that I am riding an elephant which has a mind of its own. The thing is I want to let the elephant be natural and unforced and inspiring, while at the same time I also want to instill some discipline so that allocated work can be done. His statements that eastern meditation can help people get out of habitual thoughts and into something new are refreshing and invigorating. His demonstration of experimental facts are concise and right to the point. His attempts at connecting psychology with philosophy are admirable whether it is effective or not. All the above has made this book fascinating to read.

I don’t agree with some of his analyses, especially when the analyses are leading to conclusions that justify the status quo. The most blatant one is the statement that biologically human females need males to bring up the young since females cannot gather enough calories–or something to this effect. I don’t have the real scientific figures to refute this statement, but somehow I can’t help feeling that this is said to justify certain social settings the author approves of. Another instance is when love is concerned. It is stated that companionate love and passionate love are two completely different things and cannot coexist. Well, I am not so sure that one has to exclude the other. This is very much the author’s own view and from his own life experiences. When happiness is discussed, there’s an obvious leaning towards exertion. My own experiences tell me exactly the opposite to what the author is describing. I’ve become happier when I realize that I am a sloth and reading a book brings me much more pleasure than exerting myself on those things that I assume that I have to do in order to conform to what I am supposed to be.

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