“You can’t summon happiness like you summon a dog. We cannot master happiness, it cannot be the fruit of our decisions. We have to be more humble. Not because we should praise frailty or humility but because people are very unhappy when they try hard and fail. We have a lot of power in our lives but not the power to be happy. Happiness is more like a moment of grace.”
Today I bring you this quote from Pascal Bruckner, whose Perpetual Euphoria: On the Duty to Be Happy has recently been translated from the French. I started reading it this week, and so far it’s offering a history of attitudes about happiness. He is definitely a like mind, and I love how straightforwardly he points out the irony in the misery caused by the obligation we feel these days to be “happy.” Truly, when that is the case it can’t be happiness people feel at all.
Here is the review in The Guardian and Observer from which the quote is taken. A fuller gloss on his argument can be found in his short article, “Condemned to Joy,” in City Journal.
A happy dog picture never hurts, but maybe happiness itself is more like a cat!