Kelly Walter Carney sent me a link to another LA times article about happiness.  This article is entitled “How a ‘Happiness’ guide helped one Topanga Canyon family.”  The couple in question read The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, and tried to follow some of the guidelines offered, such as practicing gratitude and letting others be right. They both offer testimony to the value of the advice. “‘I was the classic stressed-out lawyer, but that’s changed, said Adam [Radinsky], 46, a deputy city attorney for Santa Monica, ‘I don’t want to say this miracle happened overnight, but I’m noticeably happier today than I was six months ago.'”

This seems a version of the classic conversion narrative, as described by William James. It’s interesting that Mr. Radinsky terms the change a “miracle,” suggesting divine intervention, though from everything else in the article it appears that he attributes his improvement to up-by-the-bootstraps personal effort. Perhaps self-help is a gospel unto itself that can’t help from veering into religious terminology.

The article also contains a link to a list of recently published self-help books on happiness. It seems that happiness help is a burgeoning subcategory of the self help literature.  I didn’t know that we now have both “Happiness for Dummies” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Happiness.” The titles remind me of the famous scene in “Annie Hall” in which Woody Allen goes up to a couple on the street and says something like, “The two of you seem happy. What’s your secret?” They reply that they are just so shallow and empty-headed that nothing bothers them. Maybe being a dummy isn’t so bad after all.