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Happiness and Misery—Weekly Wisdom 13th June, 2021

Hello Everyone

Welcome to Weekly Wisdom, your weekly dose of highlights, quotes and notes from my notebook. If you would like to receive this in your inbox, subscribe now.

Today I’d like to share:


This weeks wisdom:

Happiness, Work, & Play

In this essay for The Atlantic, Arthur C. Brooks compares and contrasts two different philosophies of leading a happy life. These are posed as opposites of each other, but are complimentary. This quote illustrates that beautiful

That’s easier said than done, of course. Whether Epicurean or Stoic, we always want to double down on what comes naturally to us. But that is the road to excess, which ultimately leads us away from well-being. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” goes the old proverb. In 1825, the novelist Maria Edgeworth added a second line: “All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” Just so.

—Arthur C. Brooks, There Are Two Kinds of Happy People

How to be Miserable

In his speech at Harvard, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Charlie Munger, presented comedian Johnny Carson’s rules to be miserable. Munger is obsessed with inversion; instead of trying to be successful, you should find out how to fail and not do that. It seems his approach to his own well-being is the same as his approach to professional success.

What Carson said was that he couldn’t tell the graduating class how to be happy, but he could tell them from personal experience how to guarantee misery. Carson’s prescriptions for sure misery included:

1. Ingesting chemicals in an effort to alter mood or perception;
2. Envy; and
3. Resentment.

—Charlie Munger, How to Guarantee a Life of Misery

Instagram and Space

In this essay, writer Dayna Tortorici writes about the destruction that Instagram causes, in her self and society as a whole. This excerpt, examines how the social media platform has reshaped physical space it self.

Meanwhile, Instagram was leaving its trace on the physical world. People in search of ’grammable content were mobbing restaurants, public lands, and private neighborhoods in greater numbers, causing their stewards to think differently about design and crowd control. I read an article about rue Crémieux in Paris, where residents of pastel-painted houses were begging for a gate so tourists would stop taking photos in front of them. “It’s become hell,” the vice president of the street association told a local news website. “On weekends we get 200 people outside our windows. Our dinner table is right by the window and people are just outside taking pictures.”

New storefronts and restaurants were likewise optimized for the image. Considerations like comfort, accessibility, and acoustics were secondary to visual appeal. It was as if the landscape itself had dysmorphia, altering its physical appearance to fit an arbitrary standard that undermined its primary function.

—Dayna Tortorici, My Instagram


Thank you for joining me this week. Hope you join me next week as well.

Mudassir Chapra

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