Prior to my Eastern Europe Adventure, I stopped in to Borders to find a couple books to take with me on my two week excursion. Isn’t it always so hard to find the perfect travel book?
I kept getting frustrated because almost every book I picked up was about the cliche young wife, with 2.5 children and the new home who suddenly woke up one day and decided she didn’t like her mundane suburban life anymore.
Not exactly the type of reading material I was looking for. I wanted self- discovery, adventure or something empowering.
I wandered over to the travel section and I think fate brought me to this interesting book, “The Geography Of Bliss– One Grump’s Search for the Happinest Places in the World.” It was perfect! I thought to myself, “Who isn’t searching for ultimate happiness these days? Isn’t that part of why I’m going on this adventure? To see if I could be happier in another geographic location?”
At some point or another in our lives we are all involved in la chasse au bonheur, the hunt for happiness as the French say. Have you ever wondered “What exactly is the Good Life?” I purchased the book using my Reward Member coupon and waited until I was on my trans-Atlantic plane to begin the journey through 10 different countries with author Eric Weiner, former NPR journalist on his quest to find location-based bliss.
Weiner strategically consults the World Database of Happiness, (this is a real thing!) complied by Dutch professor Ruut Veenhoven, located in the Netherlands to determine which countries he should visit for his study. As I journeyed through Eastern Europe, I followed along Weiner throughout his travels to The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and America.
Ever since I read the Alchemist over a year ago, I now have this habit of writing in books and underlying phrases. Here are some phrases and ideas that caught my eye:
- “Happiness is not inside of us, but out there.”
- “Most people in the world report they are happy.” – but are they really?
- “Envy is the great enemy of happiness.” – According to the Swiss
- Its a genetic disposition of humans to find peace in nature. This is called the biophilia hypothesis by E.O. Wilson
- There is a serious relationship between trust and happiness.
- “The Swiss consumer mass amounts of chocolate, and there is some credible evidence that chocolate makes us happier.”
- I actually learned this in college and was reminded in the book that in modern languages we have far more words to describe negative emotion than positive. Think about that.
- “In America, few people are happy but everyone talks about happiness constantly.”
- “All happiness is relational.”
- Unfortunately, money does buy happiness for some people, but only up to a point.
- We may not need as much as we think we do, in order to genuinely be happy.
- Even though travel is good for the soul, “Humans, even nomadic ones, need a sense of home. Home holds a sense of community and even more important, a history.”
- “70 percent of our happiness stems from our relationships,” meaning one of our greatest sources of happiness is other people.
- I thought it interesting that spirituality is linked to happiness, but, it may not the belief in God that makes humans happy simply a belief in something, anything.
- People who are too busy are happier than those who are not busy enough AND materialistic people are less happy than people who are not. Basically, if you have lots of “things” but don’t participate in any activity you are probably one of the most unhappy humans on the planet.
These were just a few phrases that made me stop and think. Do any of them call to you? Which do you agree or disagree with it?
I’m going to share a few others from the second half of the book next week so be sure to check back to learn more about the search for bliss.