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In yesterday's New York Times there is an interesting op-ed about the meaning of happiness in our culture. I thought it was worth reading and if you are interested you can read it at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/29/opinion/...c9daf1c&ei=5070

There is another op-ed that considers the value of self-introspection when depressed or down. Also very thought-provoking.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/29/opinion/...97a8771&ei=5070

You may need to register for an account to read online or, then again, maybe not.

--Weasel

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Having just seen Narnia last night, that first article got Lewis firmly stuck in my head. 

"Those only are happy," he came to believe, "who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way."
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

This is half the reason why I shy away from the self-monitoring I'm encouraged to do as a BP.  The depressive side is self-cannibalism.  I write enough as it is.  The last thing I need is an "objective measurement" of how crappily I feel.  At one point in the past, only a major flare-up centered in my hands, preventing me from typing or writing, was able to keep me from writing for a month and thus slip free of the worst of a nasty depression.  I love words, but sometimes words (and the self-reflection they customarily engender) are the last thing I need. 

I suppose it looks, to my sleepless self, as though the self-reflection advised against in the second article makes the "sideswiping happiness" suggested by the first impossible. 

I'm going to bed.

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Thanks so much for the articles!  They made a good read.  I think they've got  similar insights:  both stress leaving the ol' innards alone if you wish to potentiate the experience of happiness.  Analysis kills.  Excessive analysis kills everything around it.  In the lingua franca of the 70's,  hang loose. But have a purpose outside yourself, however mundane it may be, or you will be stuck stewing in your own juices. 

Currently, I derive contentment from walking my dog and feeding and brushing him well.  He is a beautiful creature, and takes such pleasure in his walks and in his eating and in his naps after coming back from the "hunt" and eating the "Kill" (primo quality dog food), and contentedly gnawing the "bones" after the meat on the carcass is gone (like a connoisseur having a fine cigar after a good meal, Tiny will settle himself onto his cushion or blanket, carefully choose the chew toy of the day, and set down to ten minutes of contented chewing).  After the gnawing of the bones is accomplished, it's time for the nap. 

Tiny is right now snoring peacefully and loudly on his blanket.  Every so often he looks up sleepily to see if his feeder is still there (I have no illusions about my place in this hierarchy:  if Tiny is protective, it is because he is concerned about the continuity of his three squares).  Every so often he stretches luxuriously in his sleep.  To witness such contentment, and know that you are promoting it, is purposeful and quite satisfying.

I never thought I could bring myself to actually take hunt-length walks to keep a great lupine dog like this in condition.  It's easier during mild weather.  Truth be told,  the cold makes me depressed.  We only go out on hour-long walks every other day now, the other toiletries are confined to the back yard when I point outside and tell him to "go" four times a day.    Doin' the best I can.

Dogs are very physical.  They are a great help in not overanalyzing. 

Ergo, in the spirit of the articles, I avoid rumination by focusing on keeping my dog in great condition, and by imitating his contentment in satisfying simple needs - warmth, exercise, food, peaceful existence. 

Sorry if this is a threadjack.  For those of us with ADD, one screen is as good as any other.  But those were super articles, thanks for sharing!

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