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Read: The miracle of melancholia

We’re a nation obsessed with being happy, but sometimes feeling bad can do you some good.

By Eric G. Wilson, LA Times Online - complete article.
In april of 1819, right around the time that he began to suffer the first symptoms of tuberculosis — the disease that had already killed his mother and his beloved brother, Tom — the poet John Keats sat down and wrote, in a letter to his brother, George, the following question: “Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a Soul?”

Implied in this inquiry is an idea that is not very popular these days — at least not in the United States, which is characterized by an almost collective yearning for complete happiness. That idea is this: A person can only become a fully formed human being, as opposed to a mere mind, through suffering and sorrow. This notion would seem quite strange, possibly even deranged, in a country in which almost 85% of the population claims, according to the Pew Research Center, to be “very happy” or at least “happy.”

Indeed, in light of our recent craze for positive psychology — a brand of psychotherapy designed not so much to heal mental illness as to increase happiness — as well as in light of our increasing reliance on pills that reduce sadness, anxiety and fear, we are likely to challenge Keats’ meditation outright, to condemn it as a dangerous and dated affront to the modern American dream.

But does the American addiction to happiness make any sense, especially in light of the poverty, ecological disaster and war that now haunt the globe, daily annihilating hundreds if not thousands? Isn’t it, in fact, a recipe for delusion?

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That's in insightful and thought-provoking article -- and I would like to blog about it one of these days.

I hope you're doing well, dear friend! Sending great big hugs.