Monday, January 08, 2007


"In one often-cited study, researchers at the University of Kentucky analyzed the essays novices born before 1917 wrote on entering the School Sisters of Notre Dame and correlated them to the nuns’ life spans. They found that 9 out of 10 of the most positive 25 percent of the nuns were still alive at 85, while only one-third of the least positive 25 percent were. Overall, their study showed positive emotions correlated to a 10-year increase in life span, greater even than the differential between smokers and nonsmokers. "

This is from an article in NY times about Positive Psychology. Basically a new 'science' that teaches people about what can make them happy and how its different from hedonism (Pursuit of pleasure instead of happiness). If plain psychology deals with depression and what goes wrong with the human mind, positive psychology deals with all the positive things - how and why humans feel good. Reading about it reminded me of the 'Art of Living' class I attended a couple of years ago. Similar principles and same objective and even similar methods of instruction!

No wonder this 'Science' is accused of being a cult and not really a science at all! What does it matter what it is, as long it makes people happy? Does it make people happy though? Or are they pretending to be happy? I have no way of knowing, but I hope they're happy! Everyone could use more happiness...

In the end I don't know if I need a class to teach me what Ayn Rand wrote about all those years ago:

Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values. A morality that dares to tell you to find happiness in the renunciation of happiness - to value the failure of your values- is an insolent negation of morality. By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man - every man- is an end in himself and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy - a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that deos not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind's fullest power, not the joy of faking reality but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals and seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.

Tall order, but surely gives us a reason to pursue happiness.

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