“The Happiness Project”

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I have a dirty little secret.

I’ve recently gotten into a blog called The Happiness Project.

Normally, I would be skeptical of the lame-sounding Oprahness of this title, but then again, it’s not that uncommon for me to actually watch Oprah these days. Maybe I’m turning soft. (Actually, I just sometimes have a baby sleeping on top of me and can’t do anything else.)

Or maybe-since philosophy can be described as figuring out how to live and die well-maybe we could call The Happiness Project a work of practical philosophy and then all of us intellectual snobs can feel better about reading it. This way of thinking about it appeals to me, because when I try to imagine the best reason for writing in public like this, it’s to figure out what I believe and how to act on those beliefs-how to live and die well, in other words.

Anyway, there’s a lot of good advice there, and I like the spirit of the project: someone deciding something was missing in her life, and making a concerted effort to study what that thing was and how to get it back. The author has some pretty sensible “personal commandments” she’s arrived at over the course of her reflection. They’re for her, not you, if that makes the concept sound less annoying, but she has tips for designing your own. (If you think all of this sounds New Agey and lame, be advised that it’s the kind of thing Benjamin Franklin worked on, too. Thinking of it this way makes it easier for me to play along.)

I find some of her personal commandments to be rather compelling, though, so before I work on my own, I thought I’d commit myself to reflecting in public on those of her commandments that stir something in me. More posts to follow!

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