The “Geography of Bliss” is a fascinating book about finding happiness around the world. Did you know in Switzerland there is actually an Institute for Happiness? Yeah, the science of happiness — it exists. And I don’t mean in the pill sense. There are some countries that are far happier than others — sometimes it is connected with wealth but it’s more connected to attitude and historically ingrained cultural roots.

As you might have guessed, Western Europeans laissez-faire approach to much of life leaves them happier than those of us in the good old US of A. They seem to have mastered “the art of doing nothing” and while I’m skeptical of the European attitude, I do think we can take parts of it for ourselves.

Europe does a lot of sitting around drinking this. It seems to contribute to their happiness!

I’ve been reading a lot of these books written by journalists who take on the experience they are hoping to document. For example, I recently read “Moonwalking with Einstein” about a journalist who entered the weird world of memory games and ended up winning the U.S. National Championship.

And while I went into “Bliss” thinking more along the lines of “Eat, Pray, Love” I was surprised find something entirely different. Eric Weiner travels from Switzerland to Bhutan to Qatar to Moldova, India and more seeking out the geographical whys and wheres of happiness. It’s really interesting to see how in a place like Thailand, people never think twice about being happy — if they are, if they should be, if they ever were — but in America, we constantly ask those questions.

Only in America: So, am I happy? How can I get happy? Does being happy really matter that much?

In India, people laugh at themselves more. In Iceland, people have better attitudes about life in general. What I liked most was that happier people and countries have developed a way not to take themselves too seriously or to “sweat the small stuff.” Unfortunately, many of those places are not exactly the freedom loving, limited government areas of the world I would choose.

Iceland: I feel like I could be happy here in this area at least.

If nothing else, the book is a fascinating look at humanity across the globe and wow — one heckuva cool project to take on. Eric Weiner — I want your job. It’s an enjoyable read and if you are a world traveling lover like me, it will be right up your alley. I came away feeling like I learned a lot about some countries I’d never even considered, like Qatar and Moldova. Oh and by the way, the least happy places in the world are the little ones in cold Eastern Europe. I always knew there was  reason I didn’t aspire to go there!

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