book review What I'm reading

What I’m reading: The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness book cover

The latest title in the BritMums book club intrigued me. It was The Pursuit of Happiness by Ruth Whippman. Finding happiness is pretty much my life’s mission. My mum always told me that personal happiness was the most important thing and that has influenced the choices I’ve made in life.

Today I’m pretty happy. I make time for the things that make me happy: my blog, singing in a choir, subscription boxes and adult colouring pretty much sums up any free time after being with my family. I try to live in the moment and have a love/hate relationship with my iPhone which constantly seems to beep at me and demand my attention.

The Pursuit of Happiness book cover

I was really interested to hear about The Pursuit of Happiness. When British Journalist and documentary maker Ruth Whippman moved to California, she found one common obsession amongst the people she was meeting: finding happiness. From mindfulness to self-help seminars, Buddhism to Tinder, America seemed to be locked in a relentless collective quest to hunt down the happy.

Fed by a multi-billion dollar happiness industry intent on selling us the promise of bliss, Americans spend more time and money in the explicit search for happiness than any other nation on earth. But something isn’t working. In international comparison studies, The United States consistently ranks as one of the least happy and most anxious places in the developed world, even placing behind Rwanda in the daily contentment of its citizens!

This book is a fun expose of the happiness culture. The author goes on a quest to understand the hunger behind this national preoccupation, and the highly profitable happiness industry that feeds it. She road-tests the bliss-promising offerings, delves into the latest sociological and psychological research on happiness, and uncovers how this gnawing cultural obsession has touched virtually all areas of American life, from religion to parenting, the workplace to academia and even the Government.

Interestingly she finds that the happiness industry, far from helping us become happier, is actually manufacturing a culture of anxiety and self doubt to sell its products, urging us to obsess over our own happiness in a way that actually makes us less happy rather than more. Ironically, the individualistic, self-focused model of seeking contentment that they push undermines the one genuine, proven source of our happiness- our social connections and relationships with others.

I like the style the book is written in and it’s a really easy read. I love the way she tried so many things (so I don’t have  to!). It’s funny and light hearted, whilst examining something that many people take seriously and generates a huge amount of money. I’m not sure I’d have read this book if it was written by an American, but the author is a Brit and I understand where she is coming from.

Has reading this book changed the way I think? Not really. Does the author find the meaning of life and happiness? I’d recommend you read it for yourself and find out!

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Right Royal Mother
    April 11, 2016 at 6:35 am

    Oh, I loved this book too! Finished it and felt a whole lot better/lighter about things. Really glad you enjoyed it as well. x

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