Our country is founded on the principles of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But what does happiness look like or feel like in our world today? Is the pursuit of happiness a worthy one or should happiness be the by-product of a life well-lived? What does happiness look like across cultures and time?
In this course, we’ll attempt to answer these questions by looking at a wide range of literature, from Laozi to David Brooks, Aristotle to the neuroscientist Giles Fraser, the Bhagavad Gita to psychologist Daniel Gilbert, as well as essays and poems by artists and writers. We’ll write about our own thoughts and experiences of happiness (or lack thereof), in response to prompts based on the readings and in free writes. Through studying texts on and writing about identity, materialism, ancient wisdom, mortality, morality, and mindfulness, we’ll make our way to some understanding of the role of happiness in human thought, imagination, and striving, and write compellingly about our own ideas, experiences, and values.