I recently read The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, a novel that explores a concept that has taken on an increasingly important role in my life the closer I get to my 30s: happiness.
What is happiness? How can happiness be achieved? Is happiness tied to geography? The weather? Wealth? Our connection to people? Why are some people happier than others? Is there a science to happiness?
These are all questions that Weiner, a former journalist that spent the majority of his career in war-ridden places, explores as he sets on a year long journey to some of the world’s happiest countries to find out one simple thing: what makes them happy?
Weiner’s findings have certainly given me a new outlook on what it means to be happy and what is means to simply live. The great thing about his book is that it doesn’t define happiness for the reader, rather, for the reader the “geography of bliss” is wherever they discover within themselves while reading it.
Here are the quotes from The Geography of Bliss that left a profound influence on me:
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” – pg.4
“A certain amount of boredom is essential to a happy life” – pg. 41
“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else” – pg.43
“Looking back at my life, I find that… I have achieved happiness because I don’t have unrealistic expectations. In America, high expectations are the engines that drive is, the gas in our tanks, the force behind our dreams and, by extension, our pursuit of happiness.” – pg.63
“GDP measures everything, Kennedy concluded, except that which makes life worthwhile” – pg.75
“Recent research into happiness, or subjective well-being, reveals that money does buy happiness. Up to a point. That point, thought, is surprisingly low: about fifteen thousand dollars a year. After that, the link between economic growth and happiness evaporates” – pg.76
“The richer the society, the more difficult it becomes to do worthwhile things without immediate payoff” – pg. 77
“… the greatest source of happiness is other people – and what does money do? it isolates us from other people. It enables us to build walls, literal and figurative, around ourselves… We think we’re moving up, but really we’re walling off ourselves” – pg. 114
“Ambition is a vengeful God. He will smite those who fail to worship faithfully, but that is nothing compared to what He has in store for the faithful. They suffer from the worst fate of all. For it is only when they are old and tired, entombed in their corner office, that the realization hits like a Biblical thunderclap. The God Ambition is a false God and always has been.” – pg.139
“Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination… in other words, we create our happiness, and the first step in creating anything is to imagine it.” – pg.154
“The highest compliment any foreigner ever paid Iceland came when a Dane claimed he had learned Icelandic in order to be able to think. It made me think about the connection between language and happiness. Can language made us happy? Do words alone have the power not only to describe our moods but to create them?” – pg. 156