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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the… (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Eric Weiner

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1,557694,707 (3.79)101
Member:Sovranty
Title:The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World
Authors:Eric Weiner
Info:Twelve (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, Book Club, Read but unowned
Rating:**1/2
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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (2008)

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Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is.
  OHIOCLDC | Jul 1, 2015 |
The notion that happiness can be found somewhere else is at least as old as the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It is why immigrants still flock to the United States, why pioneers went west and why retirees head south. But are some places really happier than other places? Eric Weiner, a self-confessed grump, seeks to find out in his 2009 book "The Geography of Bliss."

Weiner's unscientific research takes him to 10 countries, including the Netherlands, the center of truly scientific research into happiness; Iceland, Switzerland, Bhutan and Thailand, where people really do appear to be happier than those in most places, if for very different reasons; Moldova, where unhappiness abounds; Great Britain, where a project was conducted to attempt to make one town, Slough, happier; and the United States, where people may think they are happier than they really are. He also traveled to Qatar, one of the wealthiest nations on earth per capita, to see if money really can buy happiness, and to India, which despite its great poverty, draws people seeking happiness.

People in different cultures, Weiner finds, view happiness differently. Trust plays a big role in whether one feels happy or not. "Trusting your neighbors is especially important," he writes. "Simply knowing them can make a real difference in your quality of life." Diversity, while considered among the greatest virtues in today's world, tends not to enhance happiness. Most people feel happier among others like themselves, he discovers.

He concludes, "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." Notice that his summary, except for the mention of beaches, ignores geography.

Weiner writes with such wit and charm that you will feel happier, at least temporarily, just for reading his book. ( )
  hardlyhardy | May 28, 2015 |
This book just didn't work for me. The author is a fine writer but he only skims the surface of the places he visits, not really revealing anything about the countries (except Moldova) I didn't already know. The citing of quotes and research related to happiness also gets rather tiresome after awhile. Not a bad book, just not what I had hoped it would be. ( )
  zmagic69 | May 27, 2015 |
Thanks GR groups for reminding me about this. I don't remember much, but I do remember it was interesting.

ETA - ironically, I do remember even now some general principles that Bliss discusses that I wish more people understood and implied. Some of the ideas keep coming up in many of the psych books I've been reading since. For example, 'the paradox of choice' principle - we get frustrated if there's more stuff out there than we can use, because of the feeling that we must be missing out on something even better. I should maybe reread this now that I have read so many other related science and popular science books. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
This is more of a travelogue than a scientific or sociological book, which is not what I was expecting. I still enjoyed it a great deal, but I think I learned more about Eric Weiner's struggles with the idea of happiness than I did about what makes other people happy.

I was also surprised at how funny the stories in this book were. That was a pleasant surprise. ( )
  wishanem | Jan 27, 2015 |
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for Sharon
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My bags were packed and my provisions loaded.
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In these days of wars and rumors of wars, haven't you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight? - Lost Horizon, directed by Frank Capra, 1937
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446580260, Hardcover)

Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, this book takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author's case, moments of "un-unhappiness." The book uses a mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Singapore benefit psychologically by having their options limited by the government? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina, so darn happy? NPR correspondent Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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