Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bill Bryson on Small Pleasures


Wrote Bill Bryson <http://amzn.to/2cAVAuw> in Notes from a Small Island  <http://amzn.to/2d2vbuj>:
One of the charms of the British is that they have so little idea of their own virtues, and nowhere is this more true than with their happiness. You will laugh to hear me say it, but they are the happiest people on earth. Honestly. Watch any two Britons in conversation and see how long it is before they smile or laugh over some joke or pleasantry...
And the British are so easy to please. It is the most extraordinary thing. They actually like their pleasures small. That is why, I suppose, so many of their treats - teacakes, scones, crumpets, rock cakes, Rich Tea biscuits, fruit Shrewsburys - are so cautiously flavourful... Offer them something genuinely tempting - a slice of gateau or a choice of chocolates from a box - and they will nearly always hesitate and begin to worry that it's unwarranted and excessive, as if any pleasure beyond a very modest threshold is vaguely unseemly...
All this is completely alien to the American mind. To an American the whole purpose of living, the one constant confirmation of continued existence, is to cram as much sensual pleasure as possible into one's mouth more or less continuously. Gratification, instant and lavish, is a birthright...
[G]radually I came round to their way of thinking and my life has never been happier. 

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