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Secrets to Happiness

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Secrets to Happiness

By Peter Van Dijk, Ode Magazine

French psychiatrist Christophe Andre, who has written some 15 books, including Vivre Heureux (“How to lead a happy life”) and L’Art du Bonheur (“The art of happiness”), answers some questions about the nature of happiness and provides interesting insight into how we can achieve this state.

Do you think people are naturally happy?
“We tend to be naturally gloomy. Melancholy is la condition humaine. Biologically oriented psychologists agree there’s a good evolutionary reason for this. When we were all still hunters and gatherers, a certain degree of concern was useful. It was prudent to remain alert to dangers and problems, which is why we’re geared to focus on the negative. It appears that the Christian church understood this early on: There’s no point looking for happiness on Earth; heaven is where you’ll find it. It is the reason why Sigmund Freud wrote: ‘Happy is not included in the plan of creation.’ It has also been proven that happiness and unhappiness are registered in different parts of the brain.

“And parents don’t often teach their children about happiness. Have you ever been on vacation and seen them stop the car, point and say: Look what a beautiful mountain valley. See that old tree and how beautifully it’s catching the light? They’re more focused on how well their children are doing in school.”

So you’re not a happy person by nature?
“There are people who are spontaneously happy. I don’t know many who are, but they exist. I’m more prone to depression than happiness; I’m more a pessimist than an optimist. I don’t have a happy temperament. My family background plays a role. My father was fairly violent. I’ve never taken anti-depressants, but I consider myself emotionally fragile.”

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Megan, selected from The Intelligent Optimist

Ode, the magazine for Intelligent Optimists, is an international independent journal that publishes positive news, about the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better.

92 comments

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9:58PM PDT on May 27, 2011

I prefer the Dalai Lama's statement that our reason for living IS to be happy.

2:51AM PST on Dec 8, 2010

Interesting article....

10:03AM PST on Dec 7, 2010

Thank you.... A reminder is always a good thing..

6:02PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

I think happiness is natural. Gloominess is unnatural. The medieval believe in being sad and gloomy until they reach heaven. Some women still dress in black (mourning) for the rest of their lives, they're widows.

1:46PM PDT on Mar 17, 2010

Intersted in happiness? have a look at the new book "Buddha's Brain"

1:42PM PDT on Mar 17, 2010

have a look at the new book Buddha's Brain

11:08AM PDT on Mar 14, 2010

Excellent article! xx

12:48AM PST on Mar 14, 2010

thanks for the post

12:47AM PST on Mar 14, 2010

worth a try

4:03AM PST on Mar 13, 2010

Nice.. Thank you..

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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what a life :)

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