Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Key to Happiness

Look no farther than the Princeton Alumni Weekly for the answer to all the big questions in life. Browsing through the class notes in the October 8 issue, I happened upon a sidebar on the work of Martin Seligman '64. Unlike most psychologists, Seligman doesn't study what makes up miserable, he researches what makes us happy.

In summary, if you want to be happy you: "Put aside the toys. Figure out what you're good at. And then apply your strengths to a greater purpose." Seligman has written a bestseller called Authentic Happiness in which he describes three levels of happiness. Pleasure is the first, the delight you get from good food and sex. Engagement is the second, the feeling of flow when you're doing something you're good at (like writing, perchance?). Most evolved is meaning, the fulfillment you get from being engaged in an effort greater than yourself.

Sounds good to me. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I have to say all the effort I've put into promoting Amorous Woman has made me very happy because I feel I'm in it for something greater than myself--namely, I hope to connect with readers to present a more nuanced view of Japan to the Western world and show that our erotic lives can be celebrated and treated thoughtfully in fiction. That made my New York book tour pretty meaningful. Then again, there was a whole lot of good food and sexy doings and just all around pleasure involved as well.

As soon as I get my photos uploaded, I'll fill you in on all the juicy details!


Craig Sorensen said...

It's cool that Dr Seligman is actually studying happiness rather than misery. There is something profound in the fact that this is unusual.

I don't think you're kidding yourself at all. Positive portrayals of sensuality and sexuality can broaden horizons by taking that path less traveled.

It seems to me such aspirations can run through all three of the levels of happiness.

I look forward to your write-up and photo's from New York!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely connection to draw! I am so glad you feel that way.

And an echo to Craig's statements "There is something profound in the fact that this is unusual" -- astute point -- and "Positive portrayals of sensuality and sexuality can broaden horizons by taking that path less traveled." Indeed!


P.S. Apologies if this comes through twice (or a bunch, lol), Donna. Blogger is acting funny. :)

LVLM(Leah) said...

Oh what a nice philosophy. I too like the idea of studying what makes us feel good instead of miserable. Just the focus on the positive can alter things in a good way.

But I definitely agree that sex = feeling good and happy = putting out posi vibrations throughout the universe affecting the whole.

Neve Black said...

Hi Donna,
Just stopping by to say hello.

The universe is always listening. If we collectively fill our minds with loving thoughts...just think of the possibility for positive change...? One city street, one city, perhaps a country, then the entire world. Namaste.

Maybe that's why we choose to write erotica: Loving thy neighbor and spreading love and good feelings out to all.

I'm looking forward to viewing your pictures from NYC. I've had a lot of fun following your book tour. Thank you taking the time and posting.

Good thoughts -

Donna said...

Craig, Emerald, MB, Neve,

I seriously mean this, the key to my happiness is having such articulate, smart, thoughtful blog-o-sphere buddies like you. At the risk of gushing, I am truly grateful for your comments and grateful for your wonderful blogs and the chance to connect.

I've been busy with family catch up, but have uploaded my photos and will begin the blow-by-blow report of my NYC trip. Lots of pictures of food!

Stay tuned.