Book Club: Review The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of HappinessWhen British Journalist and documentary maker Ruth Whippman moved to California, she found one common obsession amongst the people she was meeting: finding happiness. From mindfulness to self-help seminars, Buddhism to Tinder, America seemed to be locked in a relentless collective quest to hunt down the happy.

Fed by a multi-billion dollar happiness industry intent on selling us the promise of bliss, Americans spend more time and money in the explicit search for happiness than any other nation on earth. But something isn’t working. In international comparison studies, The United States consistently ranks as one of the least happy and most anxious places in the developed world, even placing behind Rwanda in the daily contentment of its citizens.

Determined to get to the bottom of this strange paradox, and find out what really makes for a happy life, Ruth goes on a quest to understand the hunger behind this national preoccupation, and the highly profitable happiness industry that feeds it. She road-tests the bliss-promising offerings, delves into the latest sociological and psychological research on happiness, and uncovers how this gnawing cultural obsession has touched virtually all areas of American life, from religion to parenting, the workplace to academia and even the Government. Ultimately she finds that the happiness industry, far from helping us become happier, is actually manufacturing a culture of anxiety and self doubt to sell its products, urging us to obsess over our own happiness in a way that actually makes us less happy rather than more. Ironically, the individualistic, self-focused model of seeking contentment that they push undermines the one genuine, proven source of our happiness- our social connections and relationships with others.

Part humorous first-person travelogue, part in-depth journalistic investigation into a pressing cultural phenomenon, this book explores what has gone wrong with American happiness, why it is leading to such a frenetic, anxious and ultimately unhappy society, and most importantly, what can be done about it.

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About Ruth Whippman

Ruth Whippman was born in London, studied history at Cambridge University, and then worked in television production for fourteen years. In 2011, She moved to Silicon Valley with her family and is currently a freelance journalist having written for various publications, including the New York Times, the Independent, The Guardian and the Huffington Post. This is her first book.

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  1. 16 March 2016 / 08:22

    Great insight, a nation happiness depends on the values and integrity they upholds and more so the ties they have with their beliefs.