Monday, January 21, 2008


So I went to a Rotary meeting of the Rotary Club of Cape Town (the Cape Town Rotary Club). There are about 30 clubs in Cape Town (including the suburbs similar to being within the city limits of a US city) and 40+ clubs when you go outside the suburbs (similar to including the suburbs in the US; suburbs here have a different meaning). And the speaker was a member, a medical doctor here, so you know we were friends.

She gave a talk on the Pursuit of Happiness and used many quotes, some funny.

If you marry a good wife, you will be happy.

If you marry a bad wife, you become a philosopher.


Don’t forgive your man today and then reheat his sins every morning for breakfast.


Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. Carl Jung

I though this one was interesting because it goes against the general concept of Heaven and some specific religious concepts of Heaven. It’s actually supposed to be a time of continual joy and bliss without sadness (though the Bible does refer to loss resulting from a difference in implicit rewards or levels; some interpretations disagree with that). There’s a Wake Forest Professor Eric Wilson who, in “Against Happiness,” says similar things about perhaps needing the sad and depressing for creativity and beauty and intelligence.

Anyway, during the talk she presented a Happiness quiz:

Measure Your Happiness

Read the following five statements. Then use a 1-7 scale to rate your level of agreement.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Not at all true Moderately true Absolutely true

(in case the formatting does not show well above, look below)


1-Not at all true



4-Moderately true



7-Absolutely true

  1. In most ways my life is close to my ideal.
  2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
  3. I am satisfied with my life.
  4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
  5. If I could live my life over again, I would change almost nothing.

Total Score _________________________

31-35 You are extremely satisfied with your life

26-30 Very satisfied

21-25 Slightly satisfied

20 Neutral point

15-19 Slightly dissatisfied

10-14 Dissatisfied

5-9 Extremely Dissatisfied

Apparently it was used on Oprah. I thought it was very interesting. Haley and Jeannie scored excellently. I on the other hand did poorly. One reason, is that I most definitely have regrets in the past. I, however, feel I can still live happily in light of the fact that I would change things. So I thought #5 was a strange input.

I find it interesting that the president of Bhutan decided that happiness was important to cultivate in his country (paramount priority) and he started a happiness conference. The president of Rwanda put the entire country on Warren’s book “The Purpose-Driven Life.” So interesting to me. There’s a World Database on Happiness. It shows that married, optimist, extroverted people tend to be happier. It seems to help (correlation) to be sexually active, a college graduate, religious (some say otherwise), and having a short commute to work (even Republican over a Democrat).

In the US we’re some of the most unhappy people. And many try to figure out why with our wonderful freedoms and wealth. Eric Weiner wrote a book “The Geography of Bliss” about this. He looked at the same database and took a world tour interviewing people about this very subject. Check it out. According to the Economist, he found that happier places tended to be ethnically homogenous and unhappier places tended to be new states from former USSR (lots of corruption and mistrust between people groups).

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