chapter  4
Discerning the mystery
Pages 26

Where have we got to in this puzzle with the paradoxes of happiness, the fundamentals of wellbeing, and the search for the good in life? Well, fi rst, it just seems unskilful to focus on pleasure, no matter how its positivity is construed. Science needs it, like a train needs tracks, because it provides something for experiments to get a grip on. But as happiness is more than mood swings, life is more complex. Moreover, not only is it impossible to feel good all the time, it is not good to do so. A smile may be universal but a perpetual smile is a sign of delusion, or a facelift. Pain is not just inevitable, it contributes to the good life. Notwithstanding the obvious exceptions, suff ering is human and can be humanizing. It is necessary to face that not sideways but head on, and that brought us to the matter of meaning. Meaning is not only redemptive, it is the crux of the matter for the human animal. at things have fundamental signifi cance and undeniable consequence is what puts those things on the list that people draw up as of the best in life: loving, language, arts, science, religion. It is natural to say that they are what make life meaningful, which is to say worth living.