The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

As its title explain, this is a story about a grump, who travel around looking for the happiest places in the world. This is one nice way of traveling the world.

So, what did he learn at the end of his journey?

Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude.

Rather general answers, no? But I think these are very core, fundamental points so easily missed. Most people, at least intellectually, know these are required ingredients for happiness. What is hard, though, is actually to live that way.

We give lip service to the notion that money can’t buy happiness but act as if it does.

Or, in another word,

Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. – Morpheus from “The Matrix”

Morpheus is always right…

Another favorite part;

Most of the world is happy. Why does this come as such a surprise? Two types of people, I think, are to blame: journalists and philosophers. The media, of which I am a culpable member, report, as a rule, only bad news: wars, famine, the latest Hollywood couple’s implosion. I don’t mean to belittle the troubles in the world, and God knows I have made a good living reporting them, but we journalists do paint a distorted picture.

The philosophers, though, are the real culprits – the brooding white guys from Europe. They tended to wear all black, smoke too much, and had trouble getting dates. So they hung out, alone, in cafes, pondered the universe, and –- surprise! – concluded it is an unhappy place. Of course it is. That is, if you happen to be a lonely, brooding, pasty-skinned white guy. The happy people of, say, eighteenth-century Heidelberg were busy being happy, not writing long, rambling diatribes intended to torture some not-yet-born college student in Bloomington who needs to pass Philosophy 101 in order to graduate.