I am, for the most part, a person that looks on the bright side of things, and on a happiness scale of one to ten, a strong 8.5, maybe more. But why? How? And what is it about where I am that makes it so?
Eric Weiner attempts to answer all these questions in his book, The Geography of Bliss, a year of exploration to ten of the happiest places in the world.
He begins in Rotterdam’s World Database of Happiness. He discovers that the study of happiness, like any other scientific field of study, is not particularly warm and fuzzy, that happiness is subjective, and that some things, like happiness, are beyond measuring.
Still, from the Netherlands, a country of tolerance and freedom, Weiner visits the clean and punctual streets of Switzerland. He finds a connection between boredom and patience, patience and happiness. And that perhaps, a combination of three makes it easier ” to just be.”? He then goes to Bhutan, a real life Shangri-La, a place where other expats warn, ” If you stay here long enough, you lose touch with reality.”? But maybe warning is not the right word to describe it, for the simplicity of life in Bhutan brings him peace, as he falls deeper into the trance of a country that prioritizes Gross National Happiness. From there Weiner spends time in Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India, and wraps it all up in his home country of the United States.
In the end, he concludes 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.”? A conclusion and yet there is not even an inkling of a definitive answer.
In the comforting words of one of the leading happiness researchers, Jon Helliwell, "It’s simple. There’s more than one path to happiness.”?
Where will it lead you?