I having been reading "The Conquest of Happiness", a book which was remarked as "a modern bible" by Times. The book is written in simple English, but its implication is so profound and inspiring. While reading it, I often pause to reflect upon myself, intensely shined by so many wonderful insights.
As a distinguished scientist, mathematician, activist, and philosopher, Russell displayed amazing logic thinking in writing this little lovely book. In a sense, the book explored the seemingly subjective topic "happiness" using very accurate language. Partly because I read too few books on the subject, I could not put down the book each time I touch it.
I found that Russell has some key assumptions about "happiness". Firstly, Russell proposes that happiness is by no means something that comes naturally. Instead, it needs to be pursued proactively. Secondly, true happiness lies in getting out of the narrow world of oneself. People who are with a self-absorbed mind only deserve to live in a miserable state. Therefore, to make his/her life enjoyable, one needs to be interested in as many things/people as possible.
Wouldn’t say more about the book. Whoever eager to answer the question "what is happiness" really needs to spend some time reading this splendid book.
Below are some of the sentences that touched me:
- "… every external interest inspires some activity which, so long as the interest remains alive, is a complete preventive of ennui. Interest in oneself, on the contrary, leads to no activity f a progressive kind. It may lead to the keeping a diary, to getting psychoanalyzed, or perhaps to becoming a monk. But the monk will not be happy until the routine of the monastery had made him forget his own soul." (pp 18. What makes people unhappy)
- "I am persuaded that those who quite sincerely attribute their sorrows to their views about the universe are putting the cart before the horse: the truth is that they are unhappy for some reason of which they are not aware, and this unhappiness leads them to dwell upon the less agreeable characteristics of the world in which they live." (pp 26. Byronic unhappiness)
- "The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one." (pp31. Byronic unhappiness)
- "No great achivement is possible without persistent work, so absorbing and so difficult that little energy is left over for the more strenuous kinds of amusementm except such as serve to recuperate physical enery during holidays, of which Alpine climbing may serve as the best example. …. The capacity to endure a more or less monotonous life is one which should be acquired in childhood. …. A child develops best when, like a young plant, he is left undisturbed in the same soil. Too much travel, too much variety of impressions, are not good for the youngm and cause them as they grow up to become incapable of enduring fruitful monotony. I do not mean that monotony has any merits of its own; I mean only that certain good things are not possible except where there is a certain of monotony." (pp64. Boredom and excitement)