Articles from 07/2011

1 July 2011

Editorial: Tom McGuire on Pessimism and Prozac

A Dutch acquaintance recently asked me why New Zealand has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world. At first I was taken aback by this question. Suicide is a grisly issue that New Zealanders don’t really like to talk about much. It is discomforting to think that beneath our clean, green exterior of fun on the beach and barbeques at the bach lies a dark underbelly of depression and hopeless despair.

After discussing a few half-baked theories, neither of us could come to any satisfactory conclusion about why so many young…Read

Let the Happiness in and feel good

Action for Happiness – a new mass movement for social change founded by three pioneering thinkers, Richard Layard, Geoff Mulgan and Anthony Seldon was launched in the U.K on11 April 2011. It is based on one simple idea – that if we want a happier society, we've got to approach our own lives in a way that prioritises the things that really matter, including the happiness of those around us.

With families and communities across the UK facing difficult economic times, uncertain job security and savage spending cuts, it may seem counter-intuitive to talk about happiness.…Read

This Pursuit of Happiness Makes Me Queasy

Within the space of an hour, I'd been hugged several times, I'd been led through a short meditation and I'd been bombarded by messages such as "if you can't change it, change the way you feel about it" and "happiness is a decision". It was the launch of Action for Happiness and everyone else looked pretty jolly. So perhaps it works.

You have to hand it to them, Action for Happiness has fantastic chutzpah to launch a mass movement at the nadir of a grim recession. Given the media's need for surprises,…Read

Can We Be Happy?

CAN BEINGS DESIRE TO BE HAPPY! This seemingly simple proposition that may be accepted as definitive and certain. In fact, the desire for happiness seems paramount. Of course, happiness is subjective, and is interpreted differently according to each person’s understanding and the external circumstances. For some, the concept of happiness may be based predominantly on self: self-preservation, self-protection, self-satisfaction, self-promotion; for some, it may be focused on others – the well-being, safety, or joy of one’s loved ones, or even of mankind in general. Mostly these two elements of focus, self and others, are intertwined,…Read

Condemned to Joy

On August 21, 1670, Jacques Bossuet, the bishop of Meaux and official preacher to the court of Louis XIV, pronounced the eulogy for Princess Henrietta of England before the Prince of Condé. The Duchess of Orléans had died at 26 after drinking a glass of chicory that may have been poisoned.

At the threshold of death, the young woman had called on priests rather than doctors, embraced the crucifix, asked for the holy sacraments, and cried out to God. The wonder of death, Bossuet exclaimed, citing Saint Anthony, was that; “for the Christian, it does not…Read