The Geography of Bliss: One grump’s search for the happiest place on earth. The title says it all really. Using data from the Happiness Research Institute, Eric Weiner travels the globe to explore the world’s happiest and least happy places. His mission? To find out conclusively what makes people happy!
He explores a variety of different countries that are a bit off the beaten path including Qatar, Bhutan, Iceland, and Moldova. On his global tour, Weiner explores a number of common themes we associate with happiness: sunshine, money, freedom, sense of community. Interestingly, these factors don't always lead to a perfect utopia. How can it be that one of the poorer nations of the world, Bhutan, ranks so high on the happiness scale, while Qatar, one of the wealthiest nations, scores relatively low? As Weiner travels from country to country, the characteristics that encourage happiness take shape in often surprising ways.
Weiner (pronounced whiner), a self-proclaimed grump, is a relatively tongue in cheek narrator sprinkling his writing liberally with witticisms that are often laugh out loud funny. Both introspective and fun, the book gives readers the opportunity to think about their own experiences while also not taking the process too seriously. The book flows rather seamlessly from country to country and gives the reader something new to chew on every step of the way.
My only complaint about this book is that there were some dated remarks about the threat of terrorism that are very reminiscent of George W. Bush's time in office. That said, the Geography of Bliss was written in 2008 by a journalist working as a foreign correspondent throughout the hay day of the war on terrorism. This point aside, I loved reading about how people from around the world approach their own happiness and how their nation and culture impact the ever sought after happiness equation! Fun, thoughtful, and informative, this is a wonderful summer read for people who enjoy a bit of armchair travel.