Eric Weiner is on a mission. A lifelong reporter, used to reporting the ugly side of life: war, death, and disease, he has now turned his attention to the other side of the coin. In a word, happiness. He starts his journey at the World Happiness Database in the Dutch city, Rotterdam. From there he compiles a list of the world's most happy and least happy nations. He whittles his list down to ten and travels the world over to discover just what it is that makes people happy.
His journey is sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful, and most of all enlightening. It was a fascinating read that introduced me to several cultures of which I knew nothing and also provided me with a lot of brain food. Happiness is something that I've often struggled with, but some of the books "sound bites" really struck a cord with me. His observations really encouraged me to look at life and my happiness from a different angle. Some of my favorites include:
“Happiness is not inside of us, but out there. Or, to be more precise, the line between out there and in here is not as sharply defined as we think.”
"You nurture your little melancholia, and it's like a buzz that makes you feel alive. You snap yourself a little bit, and you feel this relief of how fragile life is and how tremendously fragile you are."
"Happiness is your state of mind and how you pursue that state of mind."
"Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else."
"All the moments in my life, everyone I have met, every trip I have taken, every successI have enjoyed, every blunder I have made, every loss I have endured has been just right. I'm not saying they were all good or that for that matter that they happened for a reason - I don't buy into that brand of pap fatalism - but they have been right. They have been...okay. As far as revelations go, it's pretty lame, I know. Okay is not bliss, or even happiness. Okay is not the basis of a new religion or self-help movement. Okay won't get me on Oprah. But okay is a start, and for that I am grateful."
"Some places are like family. They annoy us to no end, especially during the holidays, but we keep coming back for more beacuase we know, deep in our hearts, that our destinies are intertwined. "
"Maybe this is how enlightenment happens. Not with a thunderclap or a lightening bold but as a steady drip, drip, drip until one day you realize your bucket is fulll."
"Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and the woman you hardly notice who cleans your office. Happiness is not a noun or verb. It is a conjuction. Connective tissue."
I would certainly recommend this book to others - those who enjoy travel books, those who enjoy a little sociology and psychology, those who want to study culture. Really I can't think of too many people I wouldn't recommend this book too. It was highly enjoyable and I think the sort of book that everyone could get something from.