Algo de qué sonreír

LONDRES – Cuando estaba a punto de ponerme a escribir, mi mujer me planteó un desafío estacional: "Está llegando la Navidad, el tiempo de paz y regocijo y todas esas cosas. ¿Puedes escribir sobre algo que haga feliz a la gente?"

Lo que parece un pedido dicho de modo festivo, en realidad, es una tarea formidable. El ébola está diezmando vidas y sustentos en África occidental. Una legión de matones islamistas está aterrorizando a Siria y a Irak. Las fuerzas del presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, han invadido Crimea y el este de Ucrania. Y si a esto le sumamos una economía global tambaleante, entonces parece que queda poca "alegría navideña" para ofrecer.

Pero la felicidad es un fenómeno complejo. La gente que vive en la pobreza puede sentirse más feliz con más frecuencia que sus pares más "afortunados". Es ese tipo de contradicción lo que ha alimentado la investigación en las ciencias sociales y la neurología, con la objetivo de responder el interrogante milenario: ¿cuál es el secreto de la felicidad?

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