Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Don’t Worry, Be Happy?

by Staff

Tags: Happiness, psychology, positive psychology, sadness, depression, pharmaceuticals,

People make mistakes in the pursuit of happiness, but eventually we can all get there. “We are meant to be happy,” says psychologist . In his new book, Stumbling on Happiness, Gilbert tries to help people understand how to find a joyful life. He advises people to “distrust your brain, and trust your eyes a little bit more.” Don’t myopically pursue selfish and materialistic goals that you think will make you feel good. Rather, take a more scientific view, testing what makes you happy, and making natural mistakes on your way there.

This quest for bliss, however, may be entirely misguided, Eric G. Wilson writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Americans’ over-pursuit of happiness, and rejection of sadness, amounts to “a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life.” Melancholic feelings give inspiration to music, art, and literature, yet Americans try to destroy sadness through positive psychology and prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical therapies can help seriously depressed people, Wilson acknowledges, but too many people try to numb their pain instead of embracing it. This is a horrible and dangerous mistake.

Bennett Gordon