If I'm thinking of having a child, I can ask friends, or siblings, or even my parents if they think it's a good idea. Chances are, most of them will tell me to "go for it" because motherhood is one of the great joys of life. Survey data, however, does not bear this out. As Gilbert reports,
"careful studies of how women feel as they go about their daily activities show that they are less happy when taking care of their children than when eating, exercising, shopping, napping, or watching television."
If Gilbert is correct that the only time a person can accurately say how he or she is feeling is right now, then this fact about the moment-to-moment unhappiness of mothers may suggest that another reason we don't rely on surrogates is that evolution doesn't want us to be happy all the time.
Neither, for that matter, does Eric Wilson. His short and gleefully peevish volume, Against Happiness, is an inventory of complaints about people who pursue happiness as a vocation, a birthright, or both. They're deluded, he says, unrealistic, inauthentic. They fail to acknowledge the misery in the world, and live in emotionally gated communities. Their intentional obtuseness is the cause of cultural vapidity, environmental destruction, blandness, cupidity. Better to be "born to the blues," as he is, he declares, and experience the world in all its dimensions.