Part One: Causes of Unhappiness: Chapt I What Makes People Unhappy:
Russell was so unhappy as to be suicidal through adolescence, but became
happy as an adult through his own efforts.
Three principal causes of unhappiness -- the sinner, the narcissist, and
the meglomaniac. Sinner is always victim of his own disapproval.
Narcissist is self absorbed and is incapable of meaningful relationships
like women whose only interest is in getting men to love them and then
lose interest. Meglomaniac wishes to be powerful rather than charming
Chapt II, Byronic Unhappiness: This consists of perpetual pessimism as
expressed in Ecclesiastes. See it expressed often by literary men. They
need to go out and get jobs as laborers instead of trying
to force their writing and then see if they feel a necessity to write.
Chapt III, Competition: People often think they must work and compete to
make a lot of money but they are incapable of enjoying it and their only
enjoyment becomes the competition itself. Rich
people today collect pictures or take interest in the arts only as a
business proposition or to increase their fame. Students are interested
in education only as a means of making money. "Some American students
took me walking in the spring through a wood on the borders of their
campus; it was filled with exquisite wild flowers, but none of my guides
knew the name of even one of them. What use would such knowledge be? It
could not add to anybody's income." Competition considered as the main
thing in life is too grim and will be replaced in a couple of
generations with a more balanced view of life.
Chapt IV, Boredom and Excitement: In old days after supper "a happy
family time" was the father sleeping, the wife knitting and the
daughters wishing they were dead or in Timbuktu because not allowed to
entertain themselves. Agrarian people rush to city to escape boredom.
Boredom is necessary to have excitement; all great books have boring
Chapt V, Fatigue: Worry is the cause of fatigue. Must learn to control
worry by realizing importance of things in their proper perspective.
Fear causes worry. Must learn to control fears by examining them
rationally rather than giving in to emotion. Do this by examining fears
and rationally determining what the worst possible case is. Part of the
success of this method is that one becomes bored with examining the
worst possible case even if it is terrible and goes on to think of
Chapt VI, Envy: Children should be raised to think of themselves as fine
people. Should learn to value what you have rather than envying others.
Modesty is not really a virtue. Modest people need
much reassuring and do not attempt tasks they are capable of performing.
Democracy is based on envy. Try to enlarge heart to dwell on advantages
and be glad for others.
Chapt VII, The Sense of Sin: Problem here is bad teaching before the age
of six. Ascetic element in Western Civilization. Nothing is wrong that
does no harm to others or is not excessive.
Chapt VIII, Persecution Mania: Remember your own motives are not always
altruistic, don't overestimate your own merits, don't expect others to
take as much interest in you as you do. Don't imagine others have enough
interest in you to persecute you.
Chapt IX: Fear of Public Opinion: Too much respect is paid to the
opinion of others. People see unconventional behavior as criticism of
their own behavior and are infuriated by it.
Part Two: Causes of Happiness: Chapt X: Is Happiness Still Possible:
People who can't read can be happy. People such as his gardener who
wages a perpetual battle with rabbits have something
to do and are happy. Scientists are happy and have happy marriages
because they see their work as important and the public sees it as
important. Literary people are the opposite. Scientists are honored
while artists starve. If people can't understand science they assume it
is because of an inadequate
education. The millionaire today may shower wealth on an artist but he
does not believe the artist's work to be as important as his own.
Meaningful work is a source of happiness as is devotion to a
cause. A hobby can provide happiness by absorbing energies. Football
watching, collecting, or any other innocent pursuit is good. Affection
and friendliness is a source of happiness too. "The secret of happiness
is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your
reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as
possible friendly rather than hostile. "
Chapt XI, Zest: One activity is superior to another in promoting
happiness insofar as there is more opportunity to enjoy it. Turn your
interest outward rather than indulge in introspection. Even
unpleasant experiences can be zestful if they do not impair health. For
example being in an earthquake. At a meal we might find a person who
considers the food a bore and eating a boring necessity.
We would find an epicure who starts eating hopefully but finds that
nothing has been cooked well enough to suit him. Then there is the
gourmandizers who eat too much and grow plethoric. The zestful
eater is glad of his food and eats with a sound appetite until he has
had enough and then stops. The gourmandizer in life is the person who is
so carried away with one pursuit that he leads an unbalanced life. The
gourmandizer pursues his interest as a means of escape from reality, as
a means of achieving oblivion. Loss of zest in civilization is due to
restrictions. In savage life, impulses govern everything -- when tribe
goes to war, the tom toms stir up warlike passions, but modern
enterprises need discipline. A train conductor or engineer cannot be
motivated by barbaric music.
Difficult to maintain zest under these conditions.
Chapt XII, Affection: Only way to get affection is to give it -- can't
buy it with gifts, attention, etc. "On the whole women tend to love men
for their character while men tend to love women for their appearance.
In this respect it must be said, men show themselves the inferiors of
women.... Affection in the sense of a genuine reciprocal interest of two
persons in each other not solely as means to each other's good but
rather as a combination having a common good is one of the most
important elements of real happiness.... Of all forms of caution,
caution in love is perhaps most fatal to true happiness."
Chapt XIII, The Family: Great problem of modern life is the career woman
who chooses a family. "She becomes tied to her house, compelled to
perform herslf a thousand trivial tasks quite unworthy of her ability
and training or, if she does not perform them herself, to ruin her
temper....Weighed down by a mass of trivial detail, she is fortunate
indeed if she does not soon lose all her charm and three quarters of her
intelligence.... In relation to her children, the sacrifices that she
has made in order to have them are so present to her mind that she is
almost sure to demand more reward than is desirable to expect, while the
constant habit of attending to trivial details will have made her fussy
and small minded. This is the most pernicious of all the injustices that
she has to suffer: that in consequence of doing her duty by her family
she has lost their affection, whereas if she had neglected them and
remained gay and charming, they would probably have loved her."
Chapt XIV, Work: Exercise of skill and construction are the satisfying
elements of work.
Chapt XV, Impersonal Interests: Interests that do not involvemaking a
living etc can be called impersonal interests. The more of these a
person has the better because it relieves the mind. The
conscious mind gets a rest. Men can do this more easily than women.
Women are not as sympathetic to games and hobbies as men. They help one
keep his sense of proportion. "It is one of the defects of modern higher
education that it has become too much a training in the acquisition of
certain kinds of skill, and too little an enlargement of the mind and
heart by an impartial survey of the world.... I should seek to make
young people vividly aware of the past." The more interests one has the
Chapt XVI, Effort and Resignation: One must bear with patience minor