Life and happiness

Life and happiness

It’s a given that we’re all trying to get happy. How to best get there, however, is hotly debated.

“Don’t worry,” some counsel. Get a warm puppy or even a warm gun, others say. Try a competitive Wall St. internship at Dean Witter. Oh no, sorry – that was the feel-good Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness.

And then, of course, there are the little yellow pill advocates. Most of them seem to be lurking in general practitioners’ offices, prescribing record numbers of anti-depressants to people who, says Ronald Dworkin, author of Artificial Happiness: The Dark Side of the New Happy Class, aren’t actually depressed but merely unhappy.

Dworkin, a PhD physician who works at the Hudson Institute in Baltimore, traces how unhappiness has been transformed into an illness over the past few decades. This came about, he says, as a result of a dangerous cocktail: a changing health care management structure, the culture of preventative medicine, pharmaceutical companies and alternative medicine, all combined with age-old power struggles between family physicians and specialists.

The result? A radical rise in over-prescription, alternative medicine cures and obsessive exercise, all justified in the name of happy lives.

Well, why shouldn’t we be happy, if we can? Any argument to the contrary smacks of Calvinist morality, warning us of the dangers of artificial happiness leading us astray from true, inner happiness.

To read more about this happiness book and related issues – click here.