February 19, 2010

Happiness theory

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:36 pm

“You can be wise and happy or stupid and miserable. The choice is yours”

— Gordon B. Hinckley


  1. Some of the dumbest things I’ve ever done have made me the happiest.

    Comment by Cris — February 19, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

  2. Matt come on now what is the context here. While I am with you on many dumb Mormon points I have never heard pres. Hinckley make such a comment without it being in context of some sort. I would be interested in knowing the whole text.

    Comment by Jason — February 19, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  3. Well, by definition, everything has a context…

    The quote appears on numerous sources. It seems to have been rather popular. It is published here without detailed citation:

    One variation on the theme is:

    “You can be wise and happy or stupid and miserable. The choice is yours,”

    The most context rich links for those sources are:

    As a pull-quote it seems to have been quite popular as a stand-alone item.

    Could be that someone may have conflated his saying above with his famous list of things “to be” which explicitly included being smart (but not being wise). Presumably, if being wise was the causal variable associated with happiness, he would have wanted people to “be” that. Perhaps he felt being wise was part of being smart?

    I don’t mind altering the citation to fit the version that more frequently appears with full context…

    Comment by admin — February 19, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  4. are wise and stupid opposites?

    Comment by joe — February 20, 2010 @ 2:34 am

  5. I have always found wise to be something gained from experience. Its hard to just be wise without the experience to give you the wisdom but you dont have to be wise to be smart.

    Comment by Jason Heilpern — February 20, 2010 @ 3:20 am

  6. @Jason – I would be interested in your views on why Hinckley specifically enjoined people to be smart, but not to be wise.

    @Joe – Indeed they are not. Foolish is the opposite of wise. It would be an interesting argument to claim that stupid and foolish are more similar concepts than smart and wise.

    Comment by admin — February 20, 2010 @ 4:53 am

  7. President Hinckly was speaking specifically to the youth of the church and I interpret the injunction to be smart as encouragement to get all the education that they can. That is pretty consistent with many of his sermons and projects. I am thinking of a recent 30 min DVD distributed throught the CES encouraging youth to prepare themselves for meaningful careers.

    Comment by Bonnie — February 20, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

  8. If you averaged the opinions of the experts who have mounds of data on the subject, you’d find out that the available evidence suggests happiness is about 50% genetic. (Oversimplified language there, but it basically captures what the evidence shows.)

    Even if you make the mistake of assuming that every bit of happiness that is not genetically determined must be the result of free choices, you would still have to admit that Hinckley’s hypothesis was long ago falsified.

    Comment by P — February 20, 2010 @ 11:57 pm

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