1. You created the most popular course in the history of Harvard, and yet in Short Cuts to Happiness you talk about lessons you learned from your barber. Why?
I learned that when I tuned in to what my barber was saying in the same way that I tune in to what a fellow academic is saying or a prominent philosopher is writing, I discovered both wisdom and joy. I am very grateful for this lesson because I find myself more open, more attuned, to people, situations, and the lessons that reside everywhere.
2. What mistakes do you see people making in their quest for happiness?
They look for it in the next promotion, the next raise, the next milestone, when the fact is that these accomplishments will not make us happier. Happiness mostly lies within. It is more determined by our state of mind than by our status or the state of our bank account.
3. In what ways can we be more open to the wisdom available to us in the course of our days?
There is a concept in art called the “appreciative eye.” For example, imagine yourself walking in an outdoor market and encountering an original Raphael pain …