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Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy
Against Happiness In Praise of Melancholy Author:Eric G. Wilson Americans are addicted to happiness. When we’re not popping pills, we leaf through scientific studies that take for granted our quest for happiness, or read self-help books by everyone from armchair philosophers and clinical psychologists to the Dalai Lama on how to achieve a trouble-free life: Stumbling on Happiness; Auth... more »entic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment; The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living. The titles themselves draw a stark portrait of the war on melancholy. More than any other generation, Americans of today believe in the transformative power of positive thinking. But who says we’re supposed to be happy? Where does it say that in the Bible, or in the Constitution? In Against Happiness, the scholar Eric G. Wilson argues that melancholia is necessary to any thriving culture, that it is the muse of great literature, painting, music, and innovation—and that it is the force underlying original insights. Francisco Goya, Emily Dickinson, Marcel Proust, and Abraham Lincoln were all confirmed melancholics. So enough Prozac-ing of our brains. Let’s embrace our depressive sides as the wellspring of creativity. What most people take for contentment, Wilson argues, is living death, and what the majority takes for depression is a vital force. It’s time to throw off the shackles of positivity and relish the blues that make us human.« less
This is a very compelling study of American's obsession with being "happy" and the author has some really good points about why we should re-think this trend. The only thing that annoyed me some is that he uses big words quite a lot so I had to have the dictionary handy. Still, that didn't keep me from getting quite a bit from this little book. If you've every "battled" depression or bad moods, this is an important book for you to read. Especially if you consider yourself spiritual. I highly recommend it because it helps bring understanding and acceptance to the normal range of human joy and sorrow - and explains what can be lost if we settle for "content" or "happy".