In the first book to identify demographically proven happiness hotspots worldwide, researcher and explorer Dan Buettner documents the happiest people on earth and reveals how we can create our own happy zones. Detailing extraordinary new discoveries and meticulous research on four continents, Buettner observes happiness in unlikely places and gleans surprising insight into what generates contentment and what it means to thrive.
Intriguing studies debunk commonly believed myths. Think life was happier in the good old days? To the contrary, data shows that people flourish more in modern societies than in traditional, agrarian ones. Marriage, parenthood, gender equality, sociability – you'll be astonished at how (or whether) these factors figure in the happiness equation.
©2010 Dan Buettner (P)2010 Dreamscape Media, LLC
“A superbly produced, life-changing audio.” (AudioFile)
The question of the book is important: what's special about places that rank highly in happiness surveys? The author travels to visit them for National Geographic. One meets colorful characters and learns about the cultures of various communities around the world, and so it's a worthwhile book for that alone. And the topic of how to promote happiness is interesting to ponder. "Thrive" does provide a useful catalog of hypothesized happiness factors and a clear short summary of happiness research.
Ultimately, the answers to the central question are unsatisfying because they are contradictory from one place to another (political freedom is key / a strong dictator is great) or else it is not clear what is cause and effect (happy people trust each other / trusting people are happier). Also, the author doesn't perform the critical test of visiting any sad places to see if they have more or less of the supposed happiness factors: there are, for example, places with sunshine and fresh vegetables that are nevertheless perfectly miserable.
Although it is whinier and not as supposedly scientific as "Thrive," "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner might in the end be a more insightful take on the exact same topic.
Definetly a good read for global perspective on happiness, however the assumption that the spiritual/religious component as a REQUIREMENT for happiness does not seem to be the only conclusion. It seems to me the failure of government to address real issues of their populace is more an indication as to the significance religion in the happiness rating.
Rather abrupt, choosing a city to represent the USA left me to see how what I read could be applied to USA. I would have liked to see a conclusion that then compared the country in it's present condition.
Certainly it takes real courage these days to study something like "happiness"--it's as if we've outgrown the very idea of it, we've become so accustomed to doing without it. In many cases, it confirms what you've known all along (like no one says on their deathbed that they wish they'd spent more time in the office) but also makes an excellent case for the importance of happiness in our lives, and gives some very brave and practical advice for how to achieve more happiness in your life. Enjoyed it thoroughly.
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