We have come to believe that the will can readily establish its power over mental states, regulate moods, and make contentment the fruit of a personal decision.

This belief in our ability to will ourselves happy also lies behind the contemporary obsession with health. What is health, correctly understood, but a kind of permission we receive to live in peace with our bodies and to let ourselves be carefree? These days, though, we are required to resist our mortality as far as possible. …

Duration—holding on as long as possible—becomes an authoritative value, even if it must be achieved at the cost of terrible restrictions, depriving oneself of some of the best the world has to offer.