Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Geography of Bliss: One grump's search for the happiest places in the world by Eric Weiner (2008)

Weiner travels to a variety of places with the hope of finding happiness. In trying to understand happiness, he relates much to his own experience. So he spends quite a bit of time comparing American culture/expectations with the culture/experience of those he visits. As well, as he tends to be someone who is not generally happy - or knows how to be happy, this tendency does affect his search (mostly by his being a bit lost about why others claim happiness).

The book tends to be fairly informative, especially as a means of understanding American culture (this can actually be seen in a librarian's review of the book). Yet, it wasn't the most exciting. It was more of a report on how some people found happiness than a book that provided insight into how to be happy. The chapter on Iceland (which I admit is as far as I got before I needed to return it) was the chapter I liked best. Happiness seemed a bit less illusive in that chapter. Weiner describes the Iceland understanding of happiness as being failure - or at least having the freedom to fail. Perhaps my resonation with this chapter has more to do, however, with my own personal bias that happiness has to do with being able to be fully oneself. And it is in the freedom to fail that people have the freedom to discover who they are - and be fully themselves..

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