Sunday, May 17, 2009

A gentleman's pursuit

A few days ago Boing Boing posted this article from The Atlantic about happiness. It focused on a study of men and their lives that spanned over seven decades! There has never been a longitudinal psychological study this exhaustive, extensive and detailed as this one. The men were interviewed, went in for physicals and completed surveys every few years up until their deaths. The study focuses solely on men, Harvard sophmores---JFK was apparently a participant but his files are sealed until 2040!

So the article got me thinking about the path to happiness and the pursuit of pleasure. If there is a straight and easy way to achieve a goal or obtain happiness, you can bet your balls I won't take it. I have this deeply ingrained notion that I have to suffer in order to get what I want. That means getting to grandma's house involves trekking through the Making-it-harder-for-myself-in-any-way-I-can Woods instead of simply hoping into a cab and whizzing straight there. I can't help it considering my upbringing. Catholic AND Chinese?! We were fed guilt for breakfast. Suffering IS salvation.

Why do I do this to myself? And on a greater level, why do we do it to ourselves? Why's it so hard to treat ourselves, and why do we always feel the need to justify it when we do?

Is it the recession? (The recession is my current favourite scapegoat explanation. Somehow I don't think so, as I've always felt guilty even during times when the economy's rollin'.

Could it be the puritanical nature of our ancestors? Maybe. The whole idea of relaxation and pleasure is so unnatural to us. Stress is pretty much ingrained in us, that even on vacation, we can't seem to relax.

I do know this though. Happiness is bunch on Sunday. And I refuse to feel guilty about that.

(I snagged the pic from

No comments: