Review of 3 Happiness Books

On Salon.com this morning, I found this review, which is excellent not only for its descriptions of the 3 books, but for its look at the drawbacks of the genre.

First, I want to read Love 2.0 by Barbara Frederickson.  As Schwartz describes it:

Love 2.0, Fredrickson wants to convince us, is made up of moments of deep connection between people. Such moments create what she calls “positivity resonance,” which in turn creates a positive feedback loop that enables us to experience more positive emotion, to have more energy, to do better work, to be healthier, and to live longer. Further, she argues, love, properly understood, requires physical — though not necessarily sexual — intimacy (take that, Facebook!). It requires eye contact, touch, and laughter. Otherwise, it’s just parallel play.

There are steps we can take to increase our “moments of love,” but this takes some discipline and practice. The habits we have formed in relating to our intimates are not so easy to break. In the second half of Love 2.0, Fredrickson offers advice, and the advice, surprisingly, is to turn not to science, but to Buddhism, and in particular to the Buddhist practice of lovingkindness meditation (LKM). Fredrickson is a practitioner of LKM herself, and offers a testimonial to how life changing just a few hours a week can be. But beyond her testimonial, she describes empirical research on the psychological and physiological benefits of LKM. Small wonder that she has twice had audiences to present her research to the Dalai Lama.

Just as interesting is Schwartz’s point that our world is constructed precisely to help us to feel disconnected, to prevent us from finding true joy and peace, systemically and culturally.  In a competitive, commercial culture, we will always be working against the grain to be at peace.

Thanks, Mr. Schwartz.

Love 2.0