Meet the philosophical self-help humorous travel memoir.

Put The Geography of Bliss on your reading list.

It’s by Eric Weiner, a self-described mope, whose essays appear in the Los Angeles TimesSlateThe New Republic and other publications you can read about here.

 

In The Geography of Bliss, Weiner writes about his global quest for the happiest place on earth.

He had me at the first sentence.

It’s November here in New England so the chapter on Iceland really got my attention.  Iceland is dark and cold and not very populated and kind of boring but the data shows that people there rank themselves as extremely happy.

Iceland has a very cooperative society that actually admires failure. Icelanders like people who fail because it is understood that they fail with the best intentions.  So, the thinking goes, if you are free to fail, you are free to try again and you can always start over.

Icelanders believe “it is not the skills we actually have that determine how we feel but the ones we think we have.”  If you think you are a concert pianist or cello virtuoso, but in fact are tone-deaf, aren’t you just fooling yourself?

Yes, they say, but it doesn’t matter.  Either way, you experience flow, a state of mind where you are so engaged in an activity that your worries evaporate and you lose track of time. Patty and I can vouch for that.

So, know thyself may not be the best advice after all.  A pinch of self-delusion is an important ingredient in the happiness recipe.  There is nobody on the island telling them they are not good enough, so Icelanders all just go ahead and paint and sing and play and write.  They admit it ~ they produce a lot of sludge but they consider it to be the fertilizer that allows the good stuff to grow.  Weiner says that a little bit of willful ignorance goes a long way and that it just might be their greatest strength.  (WWWW are lucky we don’t have to go to Iceland –  we have our own Happiness Group right here. And we are willfully ignorant.)


Brutal climate, utter isolation. The hardy sons and daughters of Vikings in Iceland could have chosen despair.  But they didn’t.

W. H. Auden said dance while you can. He didn’t say dance well.

Thanks, Eric Weiner.

You make me

Blissfully Happy.

 

Toni 11/13/13

Day 13

NaBloPoMo_November_small

4 thoughts on “HEY, WHAT’S THIS? A NEW LITERARY NONFICTION GENRE?

    1. My fave line from the book ~ “Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and the woman you hardly notice who cleans your office. Happiness is not a noun or verb. It’s a conjunction. Connective tissue.” So glad we made a connection.
      Toni

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