Happier or Just Plain Crappier?

I just read a book that claimed to make me Happier. Not that I’m unhappy. I had been depressed, and I got treated for it, and just like on TV, I was cured so I don’t have that problem anymore.

Unlike most books, this one is much worse than the TV version. I’d rather watch back to back Prozac and Wellbutrin commercials than read this prose. Why? Because drug commercials laugh and unfortunately this book did not. No funny in a book called Happier. I don’t get it.

I could have saved my time if I had first jumped to the back and looked at the picture of the author. In most cases, the picture of the author tells you nothing about how the book is. In fact, usually the author is so ugly they don’t have a picture. Or they have a picture of Steve Buscemi on the back. In this case, I think the photo matters just like the waistline of a diet book author does. In this case, the AUTHOR DIDN’T EVEN MAKE AN ATTEMPT TO SMILE. In most self help books they at least try, but here, he looks at the world with a grimace much like one on death row. Perfect guy to make my life a bit brighter.

Despite his mirthless visage, I decided to give his advice a try anyway. The first thing I read were the things to recommend this book. Here’s what I got: “The backbone of the most popular course at Harvard.” Well that’s uplifting…for him. For the rest of the slumps that teach at Harvard, that’s like saying, “your course sucks.” From the students point of view it reads, “in the rest of your courses, you are wasting your time.” Not the most uplifting message for the Harvard campus for either the teachers or the students.

The actual message is not much cheerier. First he tells us that winning does not make us happy. Really? He doesn’t mention how losing feels. I can clue him in: NOT VERY WELL. In fact, I’d rather get that fleeting joy from winning than the lifetime of pain and regret I get from losing.

His exercises were equally painful: “imagine you are over a hundred years old. Write to yourself.” Hmmm, let’s see. My back really hurts. I’m stuck in a wheelchair. I can’t get it up without a pill. Cocktails to me means prune juice. Fifty year old women, women born when I was fifty, look hot. OK, the exercise did cheer me up a little. Laughing at old people does give me a bit of a lift.

Finally he gives us these happiness revolutions, though they are not revolutions in the sense that we get to overthrow a corrupt government with fresh ideas. That would be fun. They are really revelations like the religious kind which means we have to close our eyes and wish real hard to believe them. They basically boil down to the fact that we can do stuff that makes us happy. That depresses me. I can make myself happier? I know that. I realize that’s the plan each time I go out to drink. I don’t need a Harvard Professor to tell me I can make myself happier.

What makes me really happy would for him to tell me that I am OK as a depressed person. That would make me happier. Comparing myself to Harvard students that are lucky enough to have parents to get me into Harvard and to pay the mortgage that is a modern Ivy League education, hell, I’d be happy all ready if I had all that. I wouldn’t need a book. I’d rather take a pill or some cocktails.


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