Tuesday, March 3, 2009

About The Geography of Bliss

The author, Eric Weiner, calls The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, "a travelogue of ideas" and a "philosophical self-help humorous travel memoir." Weiner, a former NPR foreign correspondent, searches the world for the unheralded happy places, such as Iceland, Bhutan, Switzerland, India, and Thailand to name a few. All told, he looks at more than three-dozen countries assessing their happiness potential in a lighthearted survey that includes profiles of such locales as the American shores, glacial Iceland, and the Bhutan jungles.

In general, the Dutch are happy, the Romanians aren't, and we here in the good ole US are somewhere in between. Thailand, in fact, has a Gross Domestic Happiness Index that the government established to ensure fun is had by all. On the other end of the happy spectrum are the wealthy Qatar citizens who lead unhappy lives in a "gilded sandbox."

Weiner becomes involved with the citizens of these happy/not-so-happy countries. He eats rotten shark meat in Iceland, visits strip clubs in Bangkok, and smokes Moroccan hashish in Rotterdam, all in hopes of making the reader happier.

"With our words, we subconsciously conflate geography and happiness. We speak of searching for happiness, of finding contentment, as if these were locations in an atlas, actual places that we could visit if only we had the proper map and the right navigational skills. Anyone who has taken a vacation to, say, some Caribbean island and had flash through their mind the uninvited thought 'I could be happy here' knows what I mean."

So, where is the happiest place in the world? You'll just have to read the book to find out.


Anna Bananas said...

I haven't read this book yet but after reading your blog I have to say that happiness is a funny thing! My husband and I moved to Florida for a while and in preparation for the move thought "Oh we'll be living in Paradise!" and "Florida is the best place on the planet!" and after a few months of the "dream" we realized Florida stunk for some 20-something newlyweds. We could go to Applebee's every weeknight at 7pm and be only 1 of 3 couples; go there at 4 and you'd have a waiting list! After giving the "dream" about 1.5 years we decided to move back home, to Cincinnati, and have been truly happy ever since. :-) Can't wait to read this book!

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have often repeated its point that indeed money does buy happiness, but just up to the amount where basic neccessities are met, quoted to be $15,000/year! After that amount, an increasing income had no relationship to increasing happiness!