Sunday, August 03, 2008

I ask not good fortune—I myself am good fortune

During my study of happiness, I’ve noticed that I often learn more from one person’s highly idiosyncratic experiences than I do from sources that detail universal principles or cite up-to-date studies. There’s something peculiarly compelling and instructive about hearing other people’s happiness stories. I’m much more likely to be convinced to try a piece of advice urged by a specific person who tells me that it worked for him, than by any other kind of argument. [...]

Gretchen: Do you work on being happier? If so, how?
Tyler: I don't believe in working on being happy, I think it produces anxiety. I'm pretty happy but I also don't see happiness as an all-important value. We pursue values other than happiness all the time, and for the better.

Gretchen: Have you ever been surprised that something you expected would make you very happy, didn’t – or vice versa?
Tyler: Marriage is good for the happiness of men, but I had expected that. Travel is an interesting issue. It makes people deeper, and makes their internal mental stream much richer, but I'm not sure it ever makes them *happier* per se. It can be a lot of hard work and also some frustration. Still it is worth doing as much as you can.

title: Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

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