Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Geography of Bliss

I thought I would broaden my horizons and read a non-fiction. So what do you choose in the vast sea of titles that make up this, rarely visited by me, genre? Travel has always interested me, I want to go around the world some day (should start saving now). Also other cultures are intriguing! And lately life, in general, has seemed in short supply of bliss. So why not one that combines all of this into one neat package. The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner.

The Geography of Bliss is categorized as a self help book, which I did not realize until after I had read it, though I find that to be a bit of a stretch. The author is witty and has a great writing style so I did not feel as though I was reading a non-fiction book. He is a self proclaimed grump, and wants to find the happiest place on Earth and why it is happy.

He starts his world wide search for bliss at the World Database of Happiness in Amsterdam. I didn't know such a place existed, the sole purpose of this organization is to gather data on happiness. They have also ranked the worlds happiest places, hence why this is Weiners starting place. He then continues through Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova (not a happy place but one of the saddest, Weiner went there to gain perspective on happiness through the contradiction), Thailand, Great Britain, India, and America.

I was surprised at the diverse nature of each country he visited, they were all happy (except Moldova), for very different reasons. What can be learned about what makes us (places) happy is best said by Weiner himself "Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude."

While the main current of the book was happiness, I was much more taken by Weiners description of each culture and country. It was almost like a mini get-away around the world.

Overall rating? Enjoyable, not a total waste of time. I will probably stick with fiction.

Learned? In any language around the world there are MANY words to describe feelings of sadness, but very few to describe happiness. Wonder where our focus is?

No comments: