Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thoughts on happiness (and how not to seek it)

John Stuart Mill looking
calmly contented
You can now download the ABC 'Late Night Live' panel on happiness, recorded at the Perth Writers Festival in February.

As I said on the day, my book Distraction is really about freedom (of a humble kind) not happiness.

But the story of John Stuart Mill, and his depression, does offer some clarifying messages on the danger of grasping at happiness too tightly. This is how I put it:
Mill’s rediscovered happiness was twofold. First, he had to put happiness aside; to stop robotically interrogating his pleasures and pains, and look to the well-being of others. Second, this idea of well-being had to be enlarged and enriched. Mill needed the arts alongside philosophy, for example. Literature revealed and refined his more subtle emotions, instead of just denying or vilifying them – this was a schooling in the commonwealth of human feeling.

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