The Geography of Bliss Book Summary - The Geography of Bliss Book explained in key points
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The Geography of Bliss summary

Eric Weiner

One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

4.4 (34 ratings)
23 mins
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    The Geography of Bliss
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    The Netherlands is the headquarters of happiness research and one of the world’s happiest nations.

    The idea of happiness research may strike you as strange. Is it even possible to scientifically measure happiness? Or is it a subjective and elusive quality?

    Well, if you’re looking for the latest research on happiness, the best place to start is the Netherlands, where annual happiness conferences are held for researchers to compare their notes and methodologies.

    Recently, the Netherlands has become something of a Mecca for happiness, and the Dutch professor Ruut Veenhoven has become its prophet. Veenhoven’s Journal of Happiness Studies is a highly influential publication and his World Database of Happiness is a vital resource for many of his peers, including the author himself.

    The Database is a collection of statistics and results from research conducted around the world, and by bringing this information together, a great deal of insight can be obtained.

    For example, the database makes it quite clear that married people are happier than singles, Democrats are less happy than Republicans, the rich are happier than the poor and women are just as happy as men.

    But not all of the data is quite so clear-cut. In fact, some of it is contradictory: in many of the world’s happiest countries, for instance, suicide rates are higher than average. And while religious people are generally happier than the nonreligious, it’s the secular countries that are ranked the happiest.

    It’s no surprise that the database is kept in the Netherlands, since many studies and articles in it show the Dutch to be among the happiest people in the world.

    The question then becomes, why? Which conditions contribute the most to happiness? For the Netherlands, relevant factors could include being a democratic and wealthy European nation with a functioning welfare system. Tolerance is another potential reason for their happiness; the Dutch are famed for their tolerant attitude toward prostitution, drugs and immigration.

    But how does one measure happiness anyway?

    Well, there are many methods, some of which are highly dubious – to put it nicely. While counting smiles might get you mixed results, asking people to rank their own happiness is a surprisingly accurate way to go.

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    What is The Geography of Bliss about?

    The Geography of Bliss (2008) asks which nations are the happiest on Earth, and what it is about these countries that makes their citizens so joyful. The answers to these questions reveal some fundamental truths about our many cultural differences, as well as the many similarities and contradictions we share.

    Best quote from The Geography of Bliss

    Americans buy self-help books as if their lives depend on them.

    —Eric Weiner
    example alt text

    Who should read The Geography of Bliss?

    • Everyone in search of bliss
    • Those with either a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty philosophy
    • Happiness researchers and people interested in the world’s different cultures of happiness

    About the Author

    Eric Weiner was a long-time foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, having been stationed in New Delhi, Jerusalem and Tokyo. His work covering Islamic news in Asia won him the Angel Award for outstanding journalism. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, and his other best-selling books include The Geography of Genius.

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