Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not What You Think
Hudson Street Press
Economist Paul Dolan proposes that happiness is a balance of pleasant feelings and a sense of purpose. He is confident in telling us several things to do to improve ourselves: eat from smaller dishes to fool ourselves into satiety; insert inspiring slogans into our email passwords to subtly boost our self-esteem; broadcast weight-loss goals to friends to keep ourselves faithful to our diets. Since we can’t will ourselves into happiness, Dolan urges us to take care in setting up what we can control. For this, rigging up an ideal physical and social context—background music, the mood in the room, the expectations of friends—can be mildly effective. In short, “happiness by design” amounts to a grab bag of tips and tricks for better living that few of us, least of all the unhappy, will have the inclination to implement fully enough to have any effect on our happiness whatsoever. —Will Wilkinson
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