Wednesday, March 19, 2008


“I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.”

- Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt (1769–1859)

With a name that long, you would expect he had something to say.

Humboldt was a Prussian naturalist and explorer whose quantitative work on botanical geography was foundational to the field of biogeography—the study of the distribution of biodiversity over space and time. Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt traveled in Latin America, exploring and describing it from a scientific point of view for the first time. His description of the journey was published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years. He was one of the first to propose that the lands bordering the east and west sides of the Atlantic Ocean were once joined. Humboldt was such a busy man, it's something of a surprise that he had time to think about happiness. But he did.

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