Thursday, February 25, 2010

Revelry Review: Bluebird by Ariel Gore

I stayed up late last night finishing the book Bluebird: Women and the Psychology of Happiness by Ariel Gore.

I have a small obsession with the field of positive psychology (hence my gratitude lists!) and I am always on the lookout for new things to read and learn about it. I saw this book in a magazine and couldn't resist.

The book begins with a quote by Diane Di Prima: "Be strong. We have the right to make the universe we dream. No need to fear "science" groveling apology for things as they are, ALL POWER TO JOY, which will remake the world." LOVE it.

The book combines a little bit of a literature survey on positive psychology and happiness theories, a little bit about Gore's life, some feminism, parts of journal writing exercises that Gore had participants in a workshop do and an examination of the key questions that get at our very cores.

I admit I really didn't think about the fact that most of the people who work on positive psychology are male: Martin Seligman, Tal Ben Shahar, Daniel Gilbert, Robert Emmons and even my beloved Viktor Frankl. I liked that this book gave life to a voice that has long been missing. I also think the distinction between men's and women's lives and happiness is an important one. I really liked the description of "flow" being happiness. "Flow" is those moments when you are lost in what you are doing, completely unaware of time. Those are moments that bring us happiness. I know that this is true in my own life.

Some of the book was more for the slightly older than me, more settled and possibly with kids and/or married set, so I had a hard time relating to those portions of it, but there were also passages that took my breath away.

Here is one I really liked:

""I am interested in the fortunes of the individual as defined not in terms of happiness but in terms of liberty, "[Simone] de Beauvoir concluded.

Fair enough, but I propose that we can now interest ourselves in the fortunes of the individual when it comes to both our happiness and our liberty.

We can insist on liberty because we know it's the foundation for long-term happiness. We know that our immediate experience might be easier if we bit our tongues and did what was expected of us--if we allowed ourselves to be condemned to stagnation--but we reject the notion that happiness consists in being at rest. Stagnant happiness isn't the happiness we're looking for.

We are here to evolve."

~Ariel Gore, Bluebird: Women and The New Psychology of Happiness, page 23

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