New: Book Report: Happiness (Lessons from a New Science)

Yesterday, I was walking in the Mission district and ran into Janak R. Janak just finished up an internship at my place of employment; soon he will go back to UCB. He asked, "Do you live around here?" I said, "No, but I come here to buy neckties." He said, "That's right--you wore a necktie yesterday. And again before--So was yesterday your last tie and now you need a new one?"

He was right. But because he was a true scientist, he tested his hypothesis--he asked. We like tests, we like confirmation.

Which is why I gave up on Happiness. As a society, we're figuring out that money can't buy happiness. We're learning more about how happiness works. Maybe we can start re-tooling society so that people can set smarter goals. So how can you find out more about what really makes us happy? Certainly not by reading Happiness (Lessons from a New Science). At least not from reading the first half or so. I read the first half or so. The book didn't tell me much about happiness. Mostly it made me grumpy. Did you know that people who win Oscars tend to live four years longer than people who are merely nominated? You could claim that this means that winners are happier and that this Oscarly longevity proves that happiness leads to healthiness. Or you could figure that Oscar judges might tend to vote for healthier people, who probably tend to look better.

Reading this book, I kept saying "correlation is not causation". I gave up on Happiness. I will choose my own path, test my own hypotheses.

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Posted 2007-08-19