The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

After the self-described “grump” Eric Weiner had roamed the globe for ten years as an NPR correspondent, he wondered what he’d find if he spent a year just traveling from happy country to happy country. Or to not-so-happy countries. He wanted to see what makes the people tick. Or be ticked off, as the case may be.  And so he began his journey, resulting in this witty, sharp travelogue of ideas, The Geography of Bliss.

Weiner visited ten wildly diverse countries in the world and spent time in each place doing a lot of wondering and inquiring. Along the way, he includes discussions of philosophical happiness, different ways that we are happy, what leads to spiritual bliss, and research on happiness (there is a “World Database of Happiness” in the Netherlands). He ponders the influence of nature and governments on our collective or individual happiness, and issues of freedom and imposed restrictions on personal choice.

So what are the happiest places in the world? Some of Weiner’s findings are surprising – lots of money does not necessarily lead to a happy culture, nor does perfect weather. At the same time, happiness is very personal. Some people will be happy no matter where they go, and others will be miserable even in the most appealing surroundings.

On page 322 the author gets as close to defining happiness as is possible for him: “Money matters, but less than we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.” This result of Eric Weiner’s research is supported by many amusing and instructive international happiness stories (with statistics woven in). This “supporting data” is what makes the book go.

Click here to find this book in our catalog.


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