It turns out intelligence, not ignorance, is bliss

One of my favorite columnists, Sarah Hampson
of the Globe and Mail, weighs in:

She says: Being happy gets a bad rap. Just think: Woody Allen v. Dubya. Who would you rather be? (Ok, you don’t have to pick.)


“I know, I have done it too: fallen into that happiness trap. You equate happiness with a lack of intellectual vigour. It’s only for uneducated, unaware people, those who ascribe to that Caribbean holiday mantra: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Those people aren’t worrying about global warming, the crime rate, the economy, the state of health care, a majority Conservative government, this month’s Visa bill, five new grey hairs they noticed this morning, their children’s education, or their retirement plans (or lack of them) – have I missed anything? Because if they were, how could they possibly be happy?

They’re drinking psychological pina coladas.

Let me be the one to say, “Not so fast.” The anti-intellectual take on happiness is a myth, one that’s been around for a long time when you consider Biblical notions of knowledge causing a fall from grace; ignorance as bliss. Then there are all those quotes floating about, such as that of the man who told the 18th century’s Samuel Johnson: “You are a philosopher, Dr. Johnson. I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher; but I don’t know how. Cheerfulness was always breaking in.”

But it turns out happiness can be seen as an intellectual exercise that necessitates the use of our evolved cognitive functions. (The engine of it ain’t in your capricious heart, it seems, but in your noggin.) “


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