The New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks wrote a column earlier this week with the provocative headline 'The Sandra Bullock Trade.' It raises a fascinating sociological question, when one is able to get past misperceiving his introduction.
《纽约时报》(New York Times)观点专栏作家布鲁克斯(David Brooks)最近写了一篇文章，标题很能引起争议──“桑德拉•布洛克的交易”(The Sandra Bullock Trade)。当读者能够正确理解他的开篇之语的时候，会发现文章提出了一个发人深省的社会学问题。
Mr. Brooks starts by outlining the very good thing that happened to Ms. Bullock recently-her winning of the Academy Award for best actress-and the very bad thing that happened to her, 'the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous jerk.' He goes on, 'So the philosophic question of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow?'
Now, this is a philosophic question, as Mr. Brooks says, and phrased conditionally, but nevertheless some readers-including a good friend of mine and several commenters on the Times's site-viewed it as his criticizing Ms. Bullock for somehow choosing to win an Oscar at the expense of pleasing her reportedly loathsome husband. Not so. Mr. Brook is simply making the point that Ms. Bullock and others with professional success and personal setbacks may be facing a much rawer deal than many people would think.
'Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being,' Mr. Brooks writes. 'If you have a successful marriage, it doesn't matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn't matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.'
Mr. Brooks cites several findings from research on happiness, all reinforcing his idea that the personal trumps the monetary almost entirely in determining true emotional well-being. 'The overall impression from this research is that economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, and that they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important,' he writes. 'The second impression is that most of us pay attention to the wrong things. Most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives.'
I'm fortunate to have enjoyed a lot of personal-life success, with a thrillingly brilliant and loving wife, two wonderful children and many great friends and relatives. I've also had a reasonable amount of professional success in the field I've wanted to be in since age 6. But if I had to choose between the two in some way, I would come down as Mr. Brooks does. There's no amount of professional glory that compares to the deep security and contentment I derive from knowing that my family and friends are there for me, and I for them.
Readers, what's your take on professional or monetary success vs. interpersonal relationships? Have you grown markedly happier with more material gains, or have they mattered less than the personal side of things?