28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
KILL UNHAPPINESS WITH LAUGHTER AND SELF CRITICISM,
This review is from: The Situation Is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness (Paperback)
A wonderful, witty, exposÃ© of our endeavors to live a more miserable life by Watzlawick, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University. The treatment of the subject will surely make you laugh at yourself and thus, perhaps, contribute to make you a better person.
W. deals with the fundamental, painful, necessity of the human being to be unhappy (in order to be quiet). And in fact, he contends that the best chapters of universal literature dwell with disaster, tragedy, guilt, madness, etc.
Dante's Inferno-W. writes- is very superior to his Paradise; same case as Milton's Paradise Lost compared with his Paradise Regained; Faust I's greatness is proportionally inverse to the tediousness of Faust II. So the author embarks hilariously in a methodic introduction to the best and more verifiable mechanisms to achieve unhappiness. Samples:
Always be truthful to yourself. A principle, from Polonius in Hamlet,of the outmost necessity for us ( its application is what gets the guy killed by Hamlet like a rat). So then, we must resist any temptation to yield to any other criteria or opinion, apart from ours. Never compromise or accept someone else's advice. The author then addresses the issue of the old saying: "time cures all wounds"..... According to W. four sound mechanisms exist if you want to avoid time's healing effects and transform the past into a present source of suffering. In the exaltation of the past we find those that only remember the good things about their youth and not the years of insecurity and anxiety. In so doing, they have a consistent reserve of sadness about their miserable present...... Also, this fidelity to the past, impairs our ability to enjoy the present and fully dedicate our efforts to the endeavors of the moment. Another mechanism is to consistently dwell with the guilt complex that past errors create, finding excuses or scapegoats (our parents, God, chromosomes, teachers etc.) while doing nothing to avoid committing the same mistakes again.
The author drives his point with practical examples. For instance the story of the hammer. A man wants to hang a painting. He has the nail, but not the hammer. Therefore it occurs to him to go over to the neighbor and ask him to lend him his hammer. But at this point, doubt sets in. What if he doesn't want to lend me the hammer? Yesterday he barely spoke to me. Maybe he was in a hurry. Or, perhaps, he holds something against me. But why? I didn't do anything to him. If he would ask me to lend him something, I would, at once. How can he refuse to lend me his hammer? People like him make other people's life miserable. Worst, he thinks that I need him because he has a hammer. This is got to stop ! And suddenly the guy runs to the neighbor's door, rings, and before letting him say anything, he screams: "You can keep your hammer, you b......"
Watzlawick not only discussess techniques to create false problems, but also the ones that make it actually possible to avoid solving problems and conver them into eternal torments. Here we get the example of the man that claps his hands every ten seconds. Asked why he does that, he answers: "to drive away the elephants..." -"But why, there are no elephants here"- The guy says: "Precisely".
This is a very funny book. It deals, with a fresh and delightful approach, with many of our karmas and mind bothering mosquitoes......