The pursuit of happiness and why it’s making us anxious* is the book Ruth Whippman was inspired to write after moving to USA with her husband’s job and researching how she could deal with her unhappiness.
When this book was offered as part of the BritMums bookclubbookclub I was keen to read it as being happy was one of my goals for a number of years, I’ve read other books on the topic of happiness (plus there are several on my current personal development to read list) and in the past I’ve tried to breakdown happiness into components and apply them to my life.
I was initially disappointed with the book because I was expecting a practical based book with Ruth commenting on different “happiness inspiring” activities she tried, but she actually tries very few, most of the book is about the research she reads and discussions with different people. I also found the first few chapters frustrating because I felt she had learnt a major part of happiness was relationships but ignored it in order to research other things such as meditation. However, once I got over those two things I found her investigation of different “happy” communities such as work and religious very interesting.
The two take way points for me are:
- the more time you spend thinking about happiness, the less likely you are to be happy
- single biggest factor affecting your happiness and success is the love and warmth of your mothers (it is a shame that this was relegated to the acknowledgement section; if it is such a big factor I feel it should have been discussed in the book)
Should you read the book?
The book is well researched and has some good examples that are linked together well, so the book flows smoothy making it easy to read. However, I can’t see the purpose of the research and therefore the book.
The back of the book says “Ultimately she stumbles upon a more effective, less self-involved, less anxiety-inducing way to find contentment” but this is not what I discovered from the book. I’ve tried to work out what I think the aim of the book is and have come up with three suggestions; none are particularly happy:
- many people who we believe are experts could be conning us either out of money or through research that is biased
- people we think are happy are often not
- you can’t improve your happiness levels by thinking about being happy
So should you read The Pursuit of Happiness and why it’s making us anxious?* If you are interested in discovering more about the research that exists on what makes us happy and people’s experiences of different “happy” communities than yes. However, if you want a book with a clear conclusion than no.
*Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to provide an honest review. Some links are affiliate links meaning if you buy something after clicking on it I will earn some money but it will not cost you anything more.