This book is written in the form of a travelogue of a grump that travels all over the world seeking happiness. I loved the message in the book, although I think Bill Bryson does a much better job of being a travel writer than Eric Weiner. I’ve never actually thought about the ‘happiness temperature’ of a place, preferring to think of happiness as a very internal thing as opposed to a function of your environment. This author turned that concept around and explains how culture begets or robs one of happiness. It’s a good read – below are my favourite notes from the book –
The Hedonic Treadmill
Imagine you are on a treadmill and your reward is a cup of coffee. The coffee costs $1. You earn the coffee and feel good about yourself. Pretty soon you’re earning $1 coffees on a daily basis and it doesn’t motivate you anymore. You go get yourself a $5 Starbucks coffee that does the same job that the $1 coffee did. The fascination dies away in some time and you crave something better and more expensive next to provide you the motivation…
This was my most favourite concept from the book. Money cannot guarantee happiness and the more you try to make it so, the more entwined you are in its grip.
Mai Pen Lai or Let it Go
This one is from the Thais. They believe in the process of living happily, as opposed to the end goal of being happy. Life is an infinite game and setbacks or successes are to be treated with the same attitude of Mai Pen Lai.
This reminded me of the my favourite line from the Gita: “Do your duty; lay not claim to its fruits”.
Happiness can be Aural
Have you ever experienced a rush of memories when you hear a long forgotten sound? I do, frequently, and as it turns out, a lot of happiness is associated with the sounds of a place/person! The next time you feel like you’re having a good time that would qualify as a great memory, try to capture it in sound 🙂
“The good life cannot be mere indulgence. It must contain a measure of grit and truth”, or the need for messiness in one’s life to remain happy. Perfection is overrated. Listen up, Singapore!
“Happiness is 100% relational. There is no such thing as a ‘personal happiness’. Happiness acquires meaning once you share it with others.. it is connective tissue”. (Still trying to wrap my head around this one).