the happiness project

You know, I rarely respond to a work of writing or art and say “this is work of someone white and privileged and annoys me.” For example, the book Eat Pray Love annoyed a lot of people because most don’t have time or means to find themselves on the road in lots of countries, but I really enjoyed that book because that woman can write. Also, isn’t that what writers are supposed to do? Go off and have stupid adventures and summarize some good old-fashioned life lessons so I can read about it in my living room? I have no desire to go to Indonesia and get a swarm of mosquitoes on my arse while I try to meditate. I love my A/C and Skin-so-Soft (good bug repellant), thank you very much. Anyway, my point is, if a writer is white and of a privileged background, I don’t automatically dismiss them, but this book….ay caramba.

First of all, I read a lot of books about how to get happy. I happen to be very invested in the topic of happiness — for myself, for the population at large. The fact that there are so many books out there tells me that a lot of people are not that happy. The writer has an extraordinarily analytical mind and outlines a game plan for her to try and improve her happiness, but I don’t know, it was not a joyless thing to go along with her. It felt like a series of careful notes and processes on index cards. Not so hot. Plus her trump card of the book, the insurmountable obstacle with which she must battle with her newly found happiness-elicitation skills is that her sister is diagnosed with — wait for it — diabetes.

Really? It’s not even cancer, so if you’re presenting this as the pinnacle of suffering, sorry. I’m not onboard. You are extraordinarily fortunate.

Interestingly, she does mention her husband has Hepatisis C and you need a new liver in about 30 years, and since he’s had it since childhood and he’s in his mid-thirties — that kind of seems bad, but maybe she’s in denial. Maybe that’s what my issue is. It’s okay that she’s white and has had awesome breaks in life (um, she clerked for Sandra Day O’Connor until she realized she wanted to write for a living, so she’s got resources and she’s mega-smart), but I don’t think people realize what a book means. Writing a book means going very deeply into a subject matter, and if that subject matter is you and your happiness, then dude, get rid of your magazine-article-writing cap, and go DEEP.

Regardless, I always learn at least one neat factoid I had never heard of before, and in this case, the writer says that people feel connected to others when they are close to women. This is true for men and women.

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