Happy Calvinists

If I had time, I would reflect on and interact with Amy Bloom’s distillation of the keys to happiness:

The Fundamentally Sound, Sure-Fire Top Five Components of Happiness: (1) Be in possession of the basics — food, shelter, good health, safety. (2) Get enough sleep. (3) Have relationships that matter to you. (4) Take compassionate care of others and of yourself. (5) Have work or an interest that engages you.

But what fascinated me in her survey of current writing on the idea of happiness was this paragraph:

It is true that ever since Americans began turning away from Calvinism (and who could blame them: long winters, smallpox and eternal hellfire?), the country has been a breeding ground for good news, for the selling of paths to contentment. The quick-witted and genteel opportunism of Mary Baker Eddy and the medicine-free healing mantras of Christian Science begat Norman Vincent Peale’s “Power of Positive Thinking” and every other “Think Your Way to Wealth and/or Happiness” coach from Father Divine to Suzanne Somers to Deepak Chopra. With questions like “Are you tired of being a victim?” “Do you feel stuck?” “Is something missing?” “Is life passing you by?,” there have been a lot of people giving happiness if not a bad name, then certainly a moist, oily “spray-on tan with a side of cash” kind of name.

If turning away from Calvinism opened the door to all of this, perhaps a return to Calvinism might be a wonderful curative!