Simple minded

I’m reading DT Max’s story in Sunday’s NYTimes Magazine, headlined “Happiness 101,”. It’s an interesting piece about the positive psychology movement, which, in brief, aims to transcend personal pleasure into a healthy, sustained mood of happiness. It’s a means of making yourself happy, or happier, by doing good works for others. Like having an orgasm not just for yourself, but for the good of humanity. Sounds good. Spread it around. Make us all a little bit happier.
But, seriously, think about this. The goal of this movement, which is mostly academic at this point, is not only to live more peacefully, but to live longer. Do we really want some people sticking around as long as we do (we meaning, well, me dammit, and the other people I like)? I work in the middle of medicine. I spread the gospel of bench-to-bedside science. I’m all for curing diseases — in most people; having some people live longer. But this could get out of hand in a hurry.

What about, say, most game-show hosts? Haven’t they been around long enough? And they’re already sooooo happy. How about rapists or murderers? Or, more relevantly … think about a really nasty sister, or in-law, or ex., any of those passive-aggressive asses sitting around you. Should science extend to making merry the milieu that make our lives miserable?
No, I say. This happiness business should be tightly controlled. Like other powerful therapies, it should be administered wisely. Extending life through selfless, charitable acts of humanity is fine and dandy … let’s just keep this to ourselves.


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