The Geography of Bliss
In 2008 Eric Weiner wrote and published the book The Geography of Bliss, one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world. This paper describes Mr. Weiner’s search for happiness over the course of a year, traveling through ten very different countries, including our own land America. His search has sent him through the darkest corners of the world to the brightest and busiest places of all. “Places that possess, in spades, one or more of the ingredients that we consider essential to the hearty stew of happiness: money, pleasure, spirituality, family, and chocolate, among others” (pg. 2). Mr. Weiner’s search began in the Netherlands at Rotterdam's World Database of Happiness where he searches for, the happiest places, and even the unhappiest. “All cultures value happiness, but not to the same degree” (pg. 15). Weiner is a grump, he likes his coffee and occasional drink and doesn’t seem to be very comfortable with the word happiness. This journey took him all over the world in his own personal search for that word, Happiness. Weiner is one of the few that were able to show us where happiness is and was able to describe it with greatness. Indeed Eric Weiner did find happiness; the search can lead you on a journey to many different places. For some the search is futile, for others it is the journey and the destination that they find remarkable and the most meaningful. You should ask yourself, what is your happiness level? For the Swiss Happiness is found in boredom, this is their way of life. At first Weiner wasn't too fond of the Swiss, either, uncomfortable with their quiet satisfaction. The Swiss are Efficient, Clean and, according to Weiner, chocolate is the most important element of Swiss bliss. “The Swiss consume mass quantities of chocolate, and there is some credible evidence that chocolate makes us happier. In order to investigate this link, I visit a chocolate store. It reminds me of an art gallery, an edible art gallery. The clerks lift the truffles with tongs, as if they were handling some rare and precious jewels. There is an entire wall of chocolate, with every type imaginable. Chocolate made with cocoa from Colombia and Ecuador and Madagascar. Chocolate laced with orange and raspberry and pistachio and raisins and cognac and rum and pure malt whiskey. I buy one of each and take them back to my hotel room, feeling quite literally like a kid in a candy store. I lock the door and spread my catch on the comforter. I bite into the Madagascar, and it is good — there is no such thing as bad Swiss chocolate” (pg 43). Weiner argues that a forgotten ingredient in the secret to happiness is contentment. Elation is not necessary and ecstasy is not required to be happy, only the calm appreciation of a stable government and the monotony of wealth. There are a whole different variety of other characteristics about the Swiss people that no one has general knowledge about. For instance he describes Switzerland as a super-nanny country where "In many parts of Switzerland, you can't mow your lawn or shake your carpets on Sunday. You can't hang laundry from your balcony on any day. You can't flush your toilet after 10:00 PM" (p.33). I found the fact as crazy to say the least. But the Swiss certainly don’t mind, and it is a very different culture. “We need a new word to describe Swiss happiness, Conjoyment. Yes, that’s what the Swiss possess: utter conjoyment” (pg. 48). Qatar and Bhutan are two countries that are difficult to reach. Both have unfriendly climates and a low population. Both have changed greatly over the years allowing changes in the lifestyle of their citizens. Bhutan exercises a policy of gross national happiness ”which aims to supplement the more traditional measure of progress, gross national product” (pg. 62) and has a great deal of trust in their king. Trust in your government, as it turns out, is one of the key factors to being happy. In Bhutan, the people have a healthy...
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