I know that i risk overemphasizing the problems with

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I know that I risk overemphasizing the problems with happiness by present-ing happiness as a problem. It is a risk I am willing to take. If this book kills joy, then it does what it says we should do. To kill joy, as many of the texts I cite in the following pages teach us, is to open a life, to make room for life, to make room for possibility, for chance. My aim in this book is to make room.
3CHAPTER ONEHappy ObjectsI mIGht say “you make me happy.” Or I might be moved by something in such a way that when I think of happiness I think of that thing. Even if hap-piness is imagined as a feeling state, or a form of consciousness that evaluates a life situation we have achieved over time (Veenhoven 1984: 22–23), happi-ness also turns us toward objects. We turn toward objects at the very point of “making.” To be “made happy” by this or that is to recognize that happiness starts from somewhere other than the subject who may use the word to de-scribe a situation.In this chapter, I want to think about how objects become happy, as if hap-piness is what follows proximity to an object. Happiness involves affect (to be happy is to be affected by something), intentionality (to be happy is to be happy about something), and evaluation or judgment (to be happy about some-thing makes something good). If happiness creates its objects, then such ob-jects are passed around, accumulating positive affective value as social goods.1 In particular, this chapter will consider the family as a happy object, as being what good feelings are directed toward, as well as providing a shared horizon of experience.
22CHAPTER ONEAffect, Objects, IntentionalityI do not begin by assuming there is something called happiness that stands apart or has autonomy, as if it corresponds to an object in the world. I begin instead with the messiness of the experiential, the unfolding of bodies into worlds, and what I call “the drama of contingency,” how we are touched by what comes near. It is useful to note that the etymology of happiness relates precisely to the question of contingency: it is from the Middle English word hapsuggesting chance. The word happyoriginally meant having “good ‘hap’ or fortune,” to be lucky or fortunate. This meaning may now seem archaic: we may be used to thinking of happiness as an effect of what you do, as a re-ward for hard work, rather than being “simply” what happens to you. Thus Mi-hály Csíkszentmihályi argues that “happiness is not something that happens. It is not the result of good fortune or random choice. It is not something that money can buy or power command. It does not depend on outside events, but, rather on how we interpret them. Happiness, in fact, is a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person” (1992: 2).

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