Book reviews (cont.)


    ("American Mania" continued from page 1)


    ...“happiness.” On page 173, one of Dr. Whybrow’s colleagues at UCLA, Dr. Alexander Bystritsky
    tells us that in a “healthy individual happiness is constantly being redefined. In youth, especially in
    American culture, the promise of happiness seems easy enough. You just work hard, fall in love,
    run fast, grow rich, and you will amount to something. Only later does the question ‘amount to what?’
    begin to arise. Happiness in most cultures is tied to intimacy…but in American life…a greater
    cultural emphasis is placed on the importance of material prosperity." But Bystritsky informs us:
    “Unfortunately it’s an illusion, after a certain level of income, all the evidence suggests that
    happiness comes from the interaction with other people, not from material possessions.”
          Later, on pages 228-229, Dr. Whybrow tells us: “Americans agree that money and material
    possessions are not the major source of health and life satisfaction. In most surveys Americans
    put family and friendship, rather than money or material things, at the top of the list when asked
    what it is they seek in the good life. One thing is clear: the pursuit of happiness through the
    accumulation of material wealth is proving to be a blind alley. The purchase of luxury, Americans
    have discovered, does not substitute for neighbors in building happiness and security. It is intimacy,
    not materialism that buffers the stress of everyday living. Meaning is found in the social bond.”
          I found that the following two sentences hit the nail on the head as one sees the worlds of
    technology and people colliding with each other. “The Internet is a new technology that unites the
    world, but it is a virtual world. Connections in cyberspace, while an advance on the passivity of
    television do not provide the gratification of social intimacy. The human preference, when reaching
    out to touch someone, is to have that person be in the same room (my emphasis).”
          After reading Dr. Whybrow’s very intellectually stimulating book, I found one sentence at the
    very beginning of the volume memorable. He writes: “It is through the empathic intimacy of human
    relationships, not in the accumulation of material goods, that true prosperity is secured.” It is as
    simple as that. Friendships. Enduring relationships. They are worth more than gold.


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