Are Shallow People Happier At Work?
One surprising thing about happiness? That it has such a bad reputation.
Happiness, many people assume, is boring--a complacent state of mind for self-absorbed, uninteresting people. Consider the scene in Woody Allen's movie Annie Hall, when Alvy Singer, played by Allen, asks a happy couple how they account for their happiness, and the woman answers, "I am very shallow and empty, and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say." The man agrees, "I'm exactly the same way."
Some people are argue that it's better to be interesting than happy. But that's a false choice.
It's true that if you're trying to tell an interesting story, unhappiness makes a much easier subject. There's more conflict, more drama. Unhappy circumstances hold our attention (that's the negativity bias). But real life is different.
I often think of Simone Weil's observation, adapted for unhappiness and happiness: "Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating."
I'm not arguing that a happy life should be free from all negative emotions - not at all. I think there's great value in bad emotions. But while it might be boring to see a movie about someone's happy life, it might be nice to live through it.