The Pursuit of Happiness and why its making us anxious – By Ruth Whippman
There are lots of things I want to say about this book. Firstly, I have seen lots of things on the internet selling courses on how to better yourself but I had never realised that the pursuit of happiness was such a big industry. Secondly, I had no idea about the happiness work project by the shoe company Zappos or more specifically Tony Hsieh and especially not about the downtown project in Las Vegas. Thirdly, I had no idea Mormons were so ‘happy’ and such a big community in Utah, although, they do seem to be happy by popping anti-depressant pills. I do have the urge to look up all these three things just to understand the logic of it all. To be honest I don’t think I’ve ever thought about happiness. I do think about bettering myself but that’s as far as it goes. Then again maybe its all part of the same thing, this inward thinking about yourself rather than thinking about the community in large or other people in general.
As for the part about bringing up kids, that’s a whole other story. Who knows what’s right? Everyone is doing their best but I’m sure kids need to experience a whole range of emotions such as sadness, pain, disappointment rather than just happiness. How do you go about it without psychologically damaging the kids for life though?
The book does make you think about a lot of things and that there isn’t one pill that will fix everything to make you eternally happy. I had heard of David Cameron’s happiness project which makes me so angry. Why chuck loads of money on this stupid project while taking money away from public service such as the NHS and Education and other useful things that we pay our taxes for? Not sure if it did go ahead or not.
I don’t know if this book covered everything relating to happiness but it has covered a lot of things I didn’t even know about. It seems to have come to the conclusion that pursuing happiness for yourself is a load of bull and living in some sort of community, with a network of family, friends or neighbours is the best way to happiness.
I feel like it in parts it generalised a lot of things but that does seem to be the nature of the whole happiness projects. At the end, because Ruth is finally happy with her life the way it is, she realises that everyone’s happiness is individual. This I can agree with. Some people like yoga, mindfulness or meditation and being on their own which doesn’t mean they are not happy. They still have the community or whatever it is that will make their life happy and whole. People will still be sad, depressed or angry at times but that’s not the be all and end all. Plus there’s the situational circumstances, which was briefly touched upon at the end, which needs more help than a book or an overpriced course.
I’d recommend this book for people wanting to know more about some of the different happiness projects. It does give some scary insights into some of these wacky extreme projects. It was an interesting read overall and a relief at the end to discover that everyone’s happiness route is individualistic.
If you want to purchase it, it can be found here:
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review, through BritMums. For other reviews of the book, see the BritMums Book Club discussion.