Triggered to read this volume by watching the documentary “Happy” (Netflix), I’m barely into it. But I find it attractive so far, and its publication in 1990 triggered widespread acclaim that survives to this day. We’ll wait and see how I fare with it. But if you’ve already read it or are interested in digesting its pages with me and discussing it with me, you will be welcomed. I think it’s one of those tomes that bears sharing and discussion.

For example, one of the author’s propositions early on resonates with me. He says, “What I ‘discovered’ was that happiness is not something that happens…. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated, and defended privately by each person.” I.e., as Frank Minirth, M.D., said in another book many years ago (1978) that carried the title of his proposition, “Happiness Is a Choice.”  But it’s not as simple as the title suggests.

The author of this current volume (publ.1990) — whom I’ll call ‘Mr. C’ for convenience since his name is virtually unknowable for me — sets out several early postulates that bear thoughtful consideration. Here’s one: “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we can make happen.” Interestingly, “Such experiences are not necessarily pleasant at the time they occur…. But in the long run optimal experiences add up to a sense of mastery — or perhaps better, a sense of participation in determining the content of life — that comes as close to what is usually meant by happiness as anything else we can conceivably imagine.”

That is important to me. I’ve had some of those experiences. I’m reading on to learn more. If the book does not interest you, I’d recommend that you at least watch the “Happy” documentary; it’s relatively brief and well worth the time to consider the stories and facts related in it.

The author’s name, by the way, is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  See what I meant?  You can’t pronounce it either, can you.

Carpe diem. Vita brevis!

Michael Stubblefield

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