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Travels with my Angst - Searching for Happiness in the Wide, Wide World

  • Jun 20, 2010
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National Public Radio correspondent Eric Weiner spent one year traveling the world to unravel the latitude and longitude of happiness. Sentient beings sooner or later ponder the ‘what’ of happiness; Mr. Weiner offers an entertaining and illuminating journey to the ‘where.’

Starting in Rotterdam with the scientist who has assembled the World Database of Happiness, a measure of "subjective well-being" in technospeak, Weiner starts off around the world. He’s a modern day Candide, sampling the lifestyles and social lubricants of the world’s measured happiest and saddest cultures and then trying to make some sense of it all.

The quantification of happiness through objective measures shows that optimists are happier than pessimists, women and men are equally happy, wealthy people are slightly happier than poor people, and we can all be sliced and diced and totemed on the basis of health, level of activity, education, church attendance, and pretty much any factor that can be listed. But do these factors cause happiness or are they the result?

Of no surprise to most of us, many countries are happier than the United States, the loss of the happiness crown another blow to our collective superpower psyche.

Weiner packs his bags and takes us along to sip the wine and ponder the inscrutable. Why do some countries with the highest percentage of happy people also have the highest suicide rates? Icelanders and Moldovans both drink excessive amounts of alcohol; why are the Icelanders cheery while the Moldovans are dismal? If the Swiss find a measure of happiness through orderliness and organization, why are the Thais blissful with a lifestyle in which they could be singing the culturally-appropriate equivalent of "Hakuna Matata?"

From the laid-back and pharmaceutically-tolerant Dutch to the morose Moldovans, Weiner savors the similarities and diversities of cultures on both ends of the happiness spectrum. He calls himself a curmudgeon and a grump but is he "addicted to sadness" as a colleague suggests?

A captivating and thought-provoking book, Eric Weiner explores whether personal happiness is between the borders on the map or between the ears.

Travels with my Angst

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Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
This is one of the best books I've read this year. It's a fun nonfiction read. Just don't expect any definitive answers about happiness. But you can enjoy the sampler platter of cultures around the world.
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