Study: Ideal Happiness Now Restricted to Pedestrian Philistines Who Can’t Suffer Small Talk


This all begs the question: Do you really, really want to be happy if it requires a George Jetson-esque ignorance of the world sans flying cars, talking dogs, and hot wife?

A new study, noted on New York Times health writer Tara Parker-Pope’s blog, Well, brings a breakthrough to us heady types who can’t do small talk like weather or local politics or celebrity gossip or basically anything but string theory. Essentially, people who only talk about “big things” are going to be happier. This is great news for all the people who tell you that they “don’t do small talk,” and terrible news for everyone who actually has to talk to them, because this will only encourage them to continue talking about things they don’t consider “small talk.” Notably, this includes anybody who’s ever quoted Chuck Klosterman. No, but really, they’re serious. There’s science behind this:

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said. “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”

Unfortunately, this stands in contrast to an entire New York Times Magazine cover story last month about depression, which noted that people who’re more creative, intelligent, and successful are more likely to be depressed.

So, basically, the key to happiness:

Don’t try to do anything original.
Never achieve anything.
Be stupid.
And start all conversations speaking about the nature of the universe, and scale down from there, speaking in increasingly sweeping terms.

Essentially, if your life doesn’t resemble Waiting for Godot, you’re fucked. Enjoy that.

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