Kierkegaard and the Pursuit of Happiness

There is an excellent article in the New York Times right now discussing the melancholy spirituality of Soren Kierkegaard, and how no one today “believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit.”

One of the hardest parts of developing spiritually is letting go of the dreams and illusions that allow us to hide from the misery and despair that often lurks within us at a deeper level.

There is abundant chatter today about “being spiritual” but scarcely anyone believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit. Nor can we fathom the idea that the happy wanderer, who is all smiles and has accomplished everything on his or her self-fulfillment list, is, in fact, a case of despair. But while Kierkegaard would have agreed that happiness and melancholy are mutually exclusive, he warns, “Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.”

Life Class and Bibliotherapy

There is an interesting article in Slate Magazine today about an English group called the School of Life, which offers “meticulously art directed” classes that include learning the arts of conversation and how to live one’s life–and even to work–in a manner that is more creative, literate and fulfilling.

So many therapies and workshops aim simply at “healing” and making one functional.  It is encouraging, then, to read about classes that focus on making life more rich and dense with creativity, culture, and thought.

There is a certain amount of pain, suffering, and misery that is intrinsic to life (which inevitably involves sickness, loss, and death).  But it is life’s rich pleasures that sit on the other side of the scale making life worth the experience.

In seeking out the practices that enrich life, we should aim at adopting not only techniques that are simple and effective, but also those that hold the most meaning, the deepest wealth of ideas, the most color and beauty.