Friday, June 2, 2017


A couple of years ago my book club read a book called The Geography of Bliss, where journalist Eric Weiner spent a year travelling to 10 places around the world looking for what makes people happy.  I was interested in this book as I've lived in many of the places he writes about:  The Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Thailand, India, the USA.  He also writes about places I've never been to but would love to visit (Bhutan and Iceland), and places where I most definitely don't want to live (Qatar and Moldova).  I mention this because a couple of our choices for summer reads this year included this idea of happiness.  One was called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k, and the other was called Solve For Happy.  Since several of my colleagues have chosen to read these other books, I'm sure that there are many copies at school and over time one or other of them will make my way towards me as well.  In fact I picked up a copy of one of these books on my colleague's desk this morning, and managed to read the first 40 pages or so before school even started, and discovered that happiness is not based on turning lemons into lemonade, but in learning to like (or at least stomach) the lemons - our fears and faults.  Basically we need to care about the things that really matter and give up on the rest.

Solve for Happy also seems interesting.  Written by a Google engineer, Mo Gawdad tries, like Eric Weiner, to examine the facts behind makes people happy - to come with an equation for enduring happiness.  His theory was put to the test when his son died 10 years after devising the equation - now Mo has decided to help people become happier by sharing his equation with people around the world in his book.  I really want to read this book too.

Anyway what I read this morning led me to this conclusion:  trying to be happy doesn't usually work - all around us we are bombarded with people having a good time and we think if we did those things it might lead us to be happy too (on Facebook, for example, one of my friends just posted that today is his last day of school and now he is going to retire - Retire? I thought - that's a huge number of years away for me .... and where do I want to retire to .... and how can I afford it ....?)  See the way my brain was working?  And actually am I really unhappy that I have to work for another 8 or 9 years?  No because I love my job!  So then I read a bit further in the book and came to this idea:  that what makes us happy is to solve problems - and so true happiness occurs when we find the problems that we enjoy having and enjoy solving (such as where to retire to?  Is this a happy problem?)

So I have one more week of school this school year - and likely this book will be lying on my colleague's desk for that whole time - so if I get in early I can read some more pages and think some more about happiness and not giving a f**k and maybe I can even finish this book before we break for summer.  And perhaps, too, this is a happy problem.

Photo Credit: BG Adrian Flickr via Compfight cc

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