THE ARCHITECTURE OF HAPPINESS

Written by Lauren Trend

If you’ve been following SP since its inception, you may well already know that I tend to read and re-read the same texts, over and over and over again.. There’s something quite nice, traversing pages of books that once held your thoughts, letting the underlines and inked notations belonging to previous reads perplex you as you find entirely different sentences more poignant this time around.. (One of my favourite signs of expansion, of growth..)

In preparation for an event next week, I am re-reading one of my favourite books; Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness. I have quoted it before, here, but felt called to share a few more passages that jumped off the page, this read around.

I’d love to know which books you all revisit, which lines of which writers make you feel understood in their hand. Because what are words for, if not to challenge, teach, or lend understanding..

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Excerpts from The Architecture of Happiness, by Alain De Botton

 

  1. “It is in books, poems, paintings which often give us the confidence to take seriously feelings in ourselves that we might otherwise never have thought to acknowledge.” 


  2. “The only problem with unrestricted choice, however, is that it tends not to lie so far from outright chaos.” 


  3. “While a common reaction to seeing a thing of beauty is to want to buy it, our real desire may be not so much to own what we find beautiful as to lay permanent claim to the inner qualities it embodies. Owning such an object may help us realise our ambition of absorbing the virtues to which it alludes, but we ought not to presume that those virtues will automatically or effortlessly begin to rub off on us through tenure. Endeavouring to purchase something we think beautiful may in fact be the most unimaginative way of dealing with the longing it excites in us, just as trying to sleep with someone may be the bluntest response to a feeling of love.
    What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.” 

  4. “Endeavouring to purchase something we think beautiful may in fact be the most unimaginative way of dealing with the longing it excites in us, just as trying to sleep with someone may be the bluntest response to a feeling of love.” 


  5. “What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.” 


  6. “While mourning the number of missed opportunities, we have no reason to abandon a belief in the ever-present possibility of moulding circumstances for the better.” 


  7. “Our love of home is in turn an acknowledgement of the degree to which our identity is not self-determined. We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need one in the physical: to compensate for a vulnerability. We need a refuge to shore up our states of mind, because so much of the world is opposed to our allegiances. We need our rooms to align us to desirable versions of ourselves and to keep alive the important, evanescent sides of us.”