“I’ve always believed that happiness is just around the corner. The trick is finding the right corner.” - Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss
According to Weiner, that corner has more to do with family, friends and trust than, well, money. Your first reaction to this may very well be “No shit, Sherlock” (as was mine) but really, how many of us live lives ungoverned by the want of material things? We’re all familiar with the age-old adage, Money won’t buy you happiness, so why is it that I’m still dreaming of the day when I can call a Herman Miller Eames chair (in traditional black leather with Walnut Veneer) my very own? Exactly.
Weiner travels across the globe to the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and finally back to America to try and answer the question as to what really makes people happy. Weiner’s account is thought-provoking, witty and surprisingly funny.
On crossing immigration in England:
“I arrive, bleary eyed, at London’s Heathrow Airport, my mood elevated by the fact that the United States and Britain enjoy a ‘special relationship,’ as Winston Churchill called it… I was feeling special indeed, uncharacteristically relaxed, as I strolled up to the immigration official. We’re pals, he and I. Even his clothes put me at ease. Instead of police or military uniforms, British immigration officers wear blazers, as if you were attending some fancy cocktail party and they were your host.
I hand the man in the blazer my passport, figuring this shouldn’t take long.
‘What is your purpose for visiting the UK?’
‘I’m doing research for a book.’
‘And what exactly is this book about?’
Until now, he has been glancing down at my passport, but now he looks me squarely in the eye. It is not the look of a pal.
‘In the UK?’
Clearly my story is not plausible…. Finally, after twenty minutes of grilling, just when I fear the possible onset of a cavity search, he stamps my passport reluctantly.
‘Suspicion of happiness is in our blood,’ said English travel writer E.V. Lucas. Or, as one Brit told me, in colloquial American so I could understand, ‘We don’t do happiness.’ No indeed. A stiff upper lip may come in handy when German bombs are raining down, but it gets in the way of a good smile.”
See? Quality writing. Quality sense of humor. Two thumbs up from me.
And to remind myself that I really don’t need another J. Crew cardigan to add to my already burgeoning collection to be happy, here are a few things that actually make me happy:
- Running the lake with my dad and our dog
- 3-hour dinners with friends that fly by in the blink of an eye
- Reading a book in a comfy chair bathed in sunlight
- Painting my nails with my sister
- Baking cookies that make the entire house smell like Christmas
- Laughing till I can’t breathe watching my mom dance to “Proud Mary” on her Wii Fit
- Really hot tea