By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
The Happy Life: The Search for Contentment in the Modern World
By David Malouf (Black Inc./Quarterly Essay, $19.95, softcover, 95 pages)
The pursuit of happiness: how elusive is it for the masses? It is such a simple human emotion and the most impulsive, yet many of us are constantly searching for it. Why are so many of us unhappy?
No matter how difficult our daily lifestyle, all of us at some stage would have felt joy at being “alive in the moment”.
The reasons may be fleeting or long-lasting: being close to family or friends, a baby’s smile, a loving pet, a job well done or being in love.
David Malouf asks some valid questions: “How is it, when the chief sources of human unhappiness, of misery and wretchedness, have largely been removed from our lives … that happiness still eludes so many of us? … What is it in us, or in the world we have created, that continues to hold us back?”
He puts a modern twist on a fundamental question, and in this Quarterly Essay, asks what makes for a happy life?
Why is it that many of us are anxious and worried in our search for contentment? We strive to attain happiness all our life, despite being told that it is an inalienable right.
In discussing new and old ways to talk on contentment and the self, Malouf shows insightfulness and dignifies his approach.
While reflecting on what makes happy life possible and what it is, this author of poems, fiction, libretti and essays returns to the “highest wisdom” of the classics.
By looking at Thomas Jefferson’s way with words, he looks at how happiness became a “right”, examining joy in the flesh as depicted by Rembrandt and Rubens.
Malouf reasons that in an impersonal, even larger world, happiness can be found in an unlikely place.
The Happy Life will have you contemplating and appreciating.
This issue also contains correspondence relating to the previous issue QE40 Trivial Pursuit by George Megalogenis.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.