Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hector and the Search for Happiness

Lesson One: Making comparisons can stop people from being happy

...or something like that.


  1. well, see, this is what I wasn't doing over at Ms Mel's yesterday when I joined in on her whining Wednesday - I was just getting my niggles off my chest (and into her comment box - oops) not comparing or advocating that my worries are/were worse than hers. . .

    I wasn't comparing, just adding to (well, not really that either)

    I remember when I was first diagnosed with post natal depression and the nurse who came to visit me listened to me saying that I had nothing to complain about cos I had a husband who had a job and we had a house and three healthy children and just think of all those poor single mothers in council blocks. . .

    she stopped me right in my tracks and told me not to compare myself to others - because it's just not relevant

    so I think Hector's first point works both ways

    it's just not healthy to be making comparisons the whole time

    yikes! I'm thirsty now. . .

  2. I totally agree that it works both ways. I learned long ago that everybody's woes are valid. There's simply no point in the popular act of one-upping. And there's no solace in noting that others have bigger problems. It's not relevant, if one has a problem, it's irrespective of any relation/comparison to any other problem.

    Now, in the context of the book. Hector is dead on right. To an ex-millionaire, $100,000 is quite a disappointment (assuming that the ex-millionaire is typical of the population at large and can't see things for what they are but only as what they are compared to something else) but to an ex-hundredaire (it's a word! I made it one) that same $100,000 is a FORTUNE.

    So, perhaps it's not really the comparison after all, but the perspective.

  3. so, when I read the book I was going to type up the whole list, and use it to refer to everynowandagain. . .

    . . .however the parts of the list that I currently "don'"t have (and the fact he pointed them out!) made me a little sad. . .

    . . .the only thing that really annoyed me about the book as a whole, and in general as a read, was that Hector seemed a little bit of a prat occasionally - kind of naive, and altho this made him seem sweet, which I guess was the point, it also bugged me

    (not that I disagreed with his list)

    ((it made me want to read Jonathan Livingston Seagull again, as a much older person, to see what I thought about it now))

  4. Hmm, I didn't get the 'prat' bit. The whole tone was written in such a simple, children's book-ish tone that I took it at face value that Hector was just a sort of Everyman, with the gifts and abilities required of such a character to give him a bit of credibility as a knowledgeable and impartial student of 'happiness'. I think he needed to be simple in order to be able to objectively 'observe' what made people happy or unhappy.

  5. yes, agreed, but what about when he went to the nightclub and picked up the escort girl? if he's a pyschiatrist he's well educated and experienced. . .

    . . .that's about the only quibble I had with the book

    if you want him to be an "everyman", then couldn't he have been a peasant wandering around a village making the same observations? rather than a successful doctor who could afford to jet about the world! but I'm not trying to quibble - I think the list is very put together, and the book very readable and I liked Hector as a character

    maybe I'm just too cynical for my own good

    don't want that to make it seem like I didn't enjoy the book, because I did

    I'll go away now

    *hangs head in shame*

  6. He COULD have been a wandering peasant (Siddhartha comes to mind) but since the author is a head-shrink, he made his protagonist a head-shrink. I'm ok with that.

  7. ooo, maybe we should read Siddhartha next?

  8. Um, I have to say that Hector came over to me as a construct designed to disarm the negative and cynical mind.
    And I did take the points and they were well presented. But I really didn't think it qualified as a novel. More a sort of illustrated guide. For children.