I saw this at Nassim Taleb’s “Fooled by Randomness” site:
Dobelli [Lucerne, Switzerland] Can you increase happiness by knowing your cognitive errors (and by
(A side note: I believe that happiness is not equal to the absence of disaster – or vice versa. It’s not a linear opposite. The two properties (happiness and unhappiness) are somehow correlated, but in a strange way. But that’s for the happiness researchers to figure out, for the Dan Gilbert types.)
Taleb [New York] Let me repeat my statement about small mistakes. You will not increase happiness by
increasing cognitive fitness and rationality. Happiness requires some wisdom about big things, but childishness with the small things.
Rolf Dobelli, one of the genuinely brilliant minds of the business world, has shown himself at home in philosophy, fiction, business, and finance.
He has a great book out called “The Art of Thinking Clearly” where I his talent for pithy aphorisms and philosophical analysis is, once again, on display.
I hope to read the book soon. Any book that promises to make the task of managing the “monkey mind” easier has to be at the top of my “to do” list.
Modest, yet outgoing, with the intellectual equipment of a scholar and the conviviality of the bon-vivant, Dr. Dobelli also manages to be an approachable nice guy, a creature apparently found in more abundance in Switzerland than in certain other geographical locations.
Maybe his next book should be “The Art of Being a Good Guy.”
Seems like that would fill a huge vacuum, say, around the DC beltway and hinterland.
Dobelli’s comment about happiness is insightful. Happiness is not unrelated to being free of unhappiness, as he points out. But the two are by no means mutually exclusive, either. There is asymmetry in the correlation. It is non-linear.
Meanwhile, Taleb’s assessment also struck home with me.
The “childish small things” I fancy are animals and… soft toys.
I “rescued” a brown and white fluffy rabbit the other day, left right on top of the dumpster, hardly a stain on his synthetic fur, looking all forlorn, one ear up and one down, his nylon whiskers askew.
Wetted down with a damp towel and soap, then sun-dried, he now has pride of place among the silent muses and “angels” I keep around me to guard that space of joy that no circumstance in life will ever take from me again.
Soft toys embody my love of story-telling, carried over from an idyllic childhood filled with books, music, imaginative play, and loving family. Even thinking back to it brings back a smile to my face, even in the blackest mood.
As a child, I would go to bed, telling stories to anyone who would listen, a patient, half-asleep sib or my weary parents, if I was lucky.
Otherwise, I had to content myself with the menagerie of teddy bears, giraffes, tinker-bells, baby elephants, dolls, and stuffed dogs that were my imaginary playmates and the compliant actors in the tableaux I staged across my bedroom with pillows and sheets for building blocks.
I’ve no doubt anyone who came across me today, in one of my ventriloquist moods, animating a toy rabbit, would think I was crazy to enjoy make-believe at this age.
But, in fact, the older I get, the more I like fantasy, children’s stories, and theater. There seems to be something of the gods in these things.
When I look out the window, on the other hand, all I see is that trivial, vulgar thing called, for some inexplicable reason, “real life” ….and, along with it, too many stunted beings who shrink with each passing second, yet glory in being called “grown ups.”