Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bliss and Place

So this is my first book review ever. I think. But hopefully this will help me keep track of the books I've read and hopefully remember more details later on...

While we were in California, my Aunt Susan loaned me (as in I didn't feel like reading any of the 4 books I brought) The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (whose name is pronounced "whiner", of all things!)

To begin with the author starts in The Netherlands at the World Database of Happiness researching the places that he wants visits. He ends up traveling to ten countries total, most near the top of the happiness list and then a few in the middle and one near the bottom of the list.

Mr. Weiner does a fascinating job presenting what he thinks is the reason for each country's happiness level. In Thailand he decides that their reason for happiness is in the phrase "mai pen lai" or "nevermind". Thus for Thailand, happiness is not thinking, or at least, thinking too hard about being happy.

I think my favorite country that Mr. Weiner portrayed was Iceland. For Icelanders he suggests that happiness is the embracing of failure. Apparently, Icelanders look on failure as a good thing. Although, not the same way Americans do. Most Americans love a failure to success story, but according Mr. Weiner, the Icelandic culture loves failure and the creativeness that it fosters, the "if one isn't afraid to fail; then one will try anything" approach. As a result, Icelanders are very creative and it's not uncommon for someone to work many radically different jobs over their lifetime.

In his search for the world's happiest places Mr. Weiner also travels to Iceland, Sweden, Bhutan, Qatar, Moldova, Great Britain, India, and America. I really enjoyed the getting a taste of each country's culture as he experienced. For instance, Iceland is so small that reaching the office 30 minutes late because you ran into a group of friends was as legitimate an excuse as getting stuck in traffic!

Mr. Weiner sums up his search for bliss by deciding that, "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." And I add in my mind, "Neither is Jesus."


Amanda Evans said...

Sara, you have such a way of making non-fiction books sounds so fascinating! I wish you and I could meld minds such that I would get everything you read and you could get what I read. That we we'd both get a good dose of fiction and non-fiction. Keep up the reviews, and if you read something Exodus carries, enter it for a chance to win prizes!

Sara The Farmerette said...

Hey, I finally signed up! And yes, I think we should meld minds. I mean between the two of us, we're perfect! ;)