‘Stumbling on Happiness’

stumbling on happiness_dec13

A fascinating, funny book, which frequently reminds me of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Don’t take my word for it! Here are some quotes…


If you are an alien who is struggling with [defining] yellow, then happiness is going to be a real challenge. But take heart: I would be similarly challenged if you told me that on your planet there is a feeling common to the acts of dividing numbers by three, banging one’s head lightly on a doorknob, and releasing rhythmic bursts of nitrogen from any orifice at any time except on Tuesday.


[Some of us] come equipped with a somewhat… basic emotional vocabulary that, much to the chagrin of our romantic partners, consists primarily of good, not so good and I already told you.


[If] we adhere to the standard of perfection in all our endeavours, we are left with nothing but mathematics and the White Album.


Many of us have a mistaken idea about large numbers, namely, that they are like small numbers, only bigger.


You could probably imagine pasta all day long without even breaking a sweat…


[E]xpressing affection is spiritually rewarding in a way that buying French fries simply isn’t.


[T]he powers of human imagination… produced space travel, gene therapy, the theory of relativity and the Monty Python cheese-shop sketch.


[T]his too shall pass, … it is always darkest before the dawn, … every dog has its day and several other important cliches.

[W]hen we try to overlook, ignore or set aside our current gloomy state and make a forecast about how we will feel tomorrow, we find that it’s a lot like trying to imagine the taste of marshmallows while chewing liver.


[W]e think we are thinking outside the box only because we can’t see how big the box really is.


[T]ime is no grapefruit.


[T]he human mind tends to exploit ambiguity – and if that phrase seems ambiguous to you, them just keep reading and let me exploit it.

The only thing more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack is finding a needle in a needlestack.


The last decade has seen an explosion of books about poo.


There are many good things about getting older, but no one knows what they are.


I’ve so thoroughly marinated you in the foibles, biases, errors and mistakes of the human mind that you may wonder how anyone ever manages to make toast without buttering their kneecaps.

Imagination is the poor man’s wormhole.


[I]f you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people.

[T]he average person doesn’t see herself as average.

Ninety per cent of motorists consider themselves to be safer-than-average drivers…


[P]ersonal ads are much more likely to mention the advertiser’s love of ballet than his love of oxygen.


(the final sentence)

[I]f our great big brains do not allow us to go surefootedly into our futures, they at least allow us to understand what makes us stumble.


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