You talk about a grammar of happiness – it's a lovely idea, but are you simply perpetuating another myth?Daniel Everett: 'There is no such thing as universal grammar' (Guardian)
I don't believe I am. In my first book, Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, I describe them as a very happy people. That doesn't mean everyone is happy all the time: they have struggles, they have insecurities, they lose their temper, they face danger. But it was actually a co-researcher who went with me from MIT and looked at the people and said: "These must be the happiest people anywhere" and I said: "How would you measure that?" and he said: "We might measure the amount of time they spend laughing and smiling and compare that to any other society, because I don't see anyone around here who is not laughing or smiling most of the time." There is a strong contentment there that I haven't seen matched by any other society.
Avi: So what is the secret of their happiness?The Grammar of Happiness: An Interview with Daniel Everett (BoingBoing)
Dan: I believe that they're happy because they don't worry about the past, and they don't worry about the future. They feel that they're able to take care of their needs today. They don't want things that they can't provide for themselves. At least they never have in my experience. In other words, I take in things and they will ask for a few little things that I have that they don't make, such as pots and pans or matches. And if I give it to them, fine, and if I don't give it to them, fine. They're not materialistic. They value being able to travel quickly and lightly. I've never met another group, not even another Amazonian group, that is so little concerned with material objects.