This is a serialization from my book, Happiness: A Physician/Biologist Looks at Life. To see the Table of Contents and the dust jacket blurb, click here; to start from the beginning, click here; to read the previous post, click here.
This is not a typical self-help book. It is a series of interrelated essays, that are probably closer to folk-philosophy than psychology. I am going to touch lightly on a lot of disciplines, philosophy, biology, anthropology, and others. Many readers may disagree with some of the things I will suggest. I think though, that that if one reads through to the end of the book, my comments will seem more reasonable.
So I would urge the reader to approach this with an open mind. I believe that we are often unhappy because we live with erroneous assumptions. But because we have lived with them for so long, they are familiar and even comfortable. Questioning those assumptions will be crucial to changing them, and finding happiness.
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I would like to believe that many of the points in this book are original; but then, I’ve had enough experience to know that originality is pretty rare. Some of these ideas probably come from other sources that I have forgotten. In my younger days, I read a lot of self-help books. Many of the ideas I learned in those books have become an integral part of me, with no remaining memory of how or when I learned these things. Some of the ideas from those books will doubtless be woven through the fabric of this. I apologize if I have not given credit to the proper parties.
In addition, many of these ideas are things that others have figured out with age and experience. By the time I reach the end of this, we will certainly arrive at some very old destinations. I hope that at the very least I have found a different road map and a new way to articulate old ideas, as well as some new illustrations to facilitate the journey for others.
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I want to thank the people who helped with this manuscript: May Helen Abraham, Jr.; Leslie D. Schilling; Mathé Allain; Joyce and Henry Fray; Jerry Algood; and Cindy Rebouché.
I need to note a debt of gratitude to Education for Living Seminars, Inc. EFL is an experiential seminar in which the participant takes an “up-close and personal” look at his life. It is an examination of why we don’t get what we want out of life, and what we do to make damned sure we don’t get what we want out of life. It has changed my life immeasurably, as well as the lives of a number of people whom I love. If you are really crazy, EFL’s probably not for you. But if you are moderately crazy—which is probably normal—then EFL may be of help.
Finally, I owe a large debt of gratitude to my teachers, particularly my parents. As I grow older, I realize that my parents didn’t so much teach me things that I need to know, as they taught me the intellectual tools that assist me in discovering what I need to know, as I need it. I believe that this is the ultimate good and goal of education, to assist the student in designing his life however he chooses. Perhaps the most important things my parents taught me, and that my better teachers supported me in, was to trust my own experiences, and my own mind; and that it’s OK to be wrong.
But we’ll come back to that.
To continue reading, click here.
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