I just want my child to be happy." Parents say this so often that it has become an accepted explanation for why a child is doing something other than what the parents would have hoped. And, in one sense, it seems straightforward, particularly when we consider the alternative. Do we want our children to be unhappy? Depressed? Discouraged?
St. Augustine told Christian pastors that their most eloquent instruction would lie not in their words but in their lives. The Dalai Lama's new book is an example of that principle still at work. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, offers his wisdom for handling the problems of life, ranging from personal discontent to global conflicts.
What counts as the good life? What constitutes happiness? What do we really need in order to flourish as human beings? Many of us would associate these questions with the late-night conversations we love to have with friends or the subjects we explore together on long afternoon walks.
In 1621 Robert Burton published The Anatomy of Melancholy, and now, nearly 400 years later, Eric Wilson has given us what amounts to an apology for melancholy. Aristotle and other intellectual immortals have observed that a disproportionate number of geniuses suffer from the inexplicable sadness that is melancholy.
Americans are obsessed with happiness. We are bombarded daily with images of things that promise at least temporary happiness—whether it’s a laundry detergent, a gourmet meal, an exotic vacation or a sexual triumph. Meanwhile, social scientists study whether we feel happy, and if not, why not.