Pico Iyer on “The Joy of Less”

Pico Iyer, the British-born essay­ist, has a nice real­i­ty check in today’s New York Times, and it’s now the most emailed arti­cle of the day. Here are a few key pas­sages:

“I’m not sure how much out­ward details or accom­plish­ments ever real­ly make us hap­py deep down. The mil­lion­aires I know seem des­per­ate to become mul­ti­mil­lion­aires, and spend more time with their lawyers and their bankers than with their friends (whose moti­va­tions they are no longer sure of). And I remem­ber how, in the cor­po­rate world, I always knew there was some high­er posi­tion I could attain, which meant that, like Zeno’s arrow, I was guar­an­teed nev­er to arrive and always to remain dis­sat­is­fied…”

“…my two-room apart­ment in nowhere Japan seems more abun­dant than the big house that burned down [in San­ta Bar­bara, CA]. I have time to read the new John le Carre, while nib­bling at sweet tan­ger­ines in the sun. When a Sig­ur Ros album comes out, it fills my days and nights, resplen­dent. And then it seems that hap­pi­ness, like peace or pas­sion, comes most freely when it isn’t pur­sued.”

On a relat­ed note, you might want to check out this piece in the The Atlantic, What Makes Us Hap­py?, which takes a look at Har­vard’s long effort to answer that ques­tion.

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