in pursuit of dumb happiness

December 8, 2004
Talking Point of the Moment
(I think I might have first read this idea in Mark Kingwell's In Pursuit of Happiness: Better Living from Plato to Prozac)

Here's a question that came up last night, at the meeting of my UU church "covenant group" -- if you could take a pill or have some kind of procedure that was guaranteed to make you happy but also made you dumb, would you do it? I think that most people want to be happy, but it's almost like they want to be the "right kind" of happy, that there's a sort of meta-unhappiness that we have to deal with now that even if we believed our future self would be too happy to give a dang about makes the whole deal unacceptable. Or maybe people are concerned about how it would affect their families and loved ones, or that they might not be productive, and that makes them meta-unhappy now.

Of course, I've heard of a cynical survey result that a lot of people, especially women, would decline a pill that made them smarter but made their butts bigger.

Let me know what you think. What's more important, smarts or happiness, or do you reject the proposition and think the two are inseperable for you. (Which I think is a bit optimistic.) (Wait, I haven't asked this before, have I? Couldn't find it in the archive.)