Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fog Happiness

Gretchen Rubin takes up an important finding in happiness research: when a couple has children, their marital happiness goes down.  After pondering this finding compared to her own experience, and compared with the obvious fact that most parents are happy that they have children, she came to this conclusion:

I have to reject the experts’ argument that children don’t bring happiness. Because they do. Not always in a moment-to-moment way, perhaps, but in a more profound way. 

She calls this “fog happiness.” Caring for children, especially small children, may be a trial at any given moment. Yet the experience of being a parent, having children, of family in the round, is deeply satisfying to most people.

I think that the kind of well-being that comes from having children is the single clearest path from "happiness" to "meaningfulness." And thinking about why raising children produces fog happiness is an instance of what Aristotle means when he says that contemplation is the highest happiness.

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