Sunday, February 28, 2010

Geography of Bliss

I went to an author talk last night. Eric Weiner, the author of Geography of Bliss, was giving a free talk at a local theater. It was really, really great.

I read the book last month - it was better than I was expecting. He travels the world to some of the happiest and unhappiest places, all the while considering what it is both geographically and culturally that makes people feel generally happy. Lots of humor, a decent amount of science, and a satisfying overload of philosophy all mixed together. It was a really great book.

And so I went to his talk, listened to some of his stories and the reasoning behind his book and his methods of "study". Good stuff.

The best part was being in a theater filled with other people, laughing at intelligent jokes, and considering some relatively deep concepts of modern philosophy. I felt like a grown up. That's a luxury in my life, and I basked in it.

The one thing I noticed about Mr. Weiner in talking about his own happiness (for which I kind of get the idea that he's still searching) is that he goes back to "boredom" quite often. He'd live in India if he had to choose one country from his book to spend the rest of his life in. Why? Because you could never be bored in India. There was some reference to boredom in the places he's lived in America, too. Apparently boredom is high on his list of unwanted features in a geographical home.

But isn't boredom inside us? I know plenty of people that would claim to be bored here in my little Western Colorado town. It's not an exciting place, not bustling like some cities. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are bored here. But boredom is a choice, I think. I could be bored... or I could find some satisfying way to fill my time. I just thought it was interesting that boredom seemed to be a central issue for him - I'm not even sure he really realized it as he was speaking.

I don't want to say too much more about the book, in case you have a chance to read it. And I really think that you should. Deb - I found myself thinking about you in particular quite a bit as I read it. It has the potential to change the way you consider yourself, your life, and your surroundings. And it'll make you want to travel.

So reading his book, and listening to him talk, it begs me to ask of you these questions: Are you happy? If you're happy, what makes you that way? Where is your happiest place in the world?


Crazy Homeschool Mama said...

Are boredom and contentment the same? I am very content with my life....burnt out on homeschooling yes..but public school not an exciting for oyu to be with other adults! and ones that were smart too! :)

Julie said...

Boredom and contentment? Or happiness and contentment? Boredom and contentment are very different, I think. Both can be a lack of activity or excitement, but boredom is a dissatisfaction with that, and contentment is the opposite.
Happiness and contentment are similar, I think. One doesn't have to be perpetually elated to be "happy". For me, happiness in life comes from fulfillment, satisfaction, and an ability to see the beauty of all of the "Little Things". There's something to be said, too, for some bad things. If life were perfect - if there was no pain, no fear, no stress, we wouldn't appreciate all the things that ultimately bring us happiness.

Crazy Homeschool Mama said...

I meant boredom vs. happiness/content vs bored...and exactly we wouldn't appreciate the little things if life were perfect....

Deb said...

Okay Julie, what is that book again? I guess I should look it up and see what it's all about.

Happiness? Yes, I'm happy. Most of the time, at least when my depression doesn't take over. I am happy. I love my life. I loved being a SAHM & loved homeschooling. I love directing my children's choir. I love my husband, children & grandchildren. I love my garden. All of these things make me feel happy & contented. I do love traveling and we do alot of it these days. But I'm always happiest at home.

Life said...

I think the places where I'm not afraid of anything are where I'm the happiest. Maybe happiness for me is conquering fear with positive thought processes, breeding courage that promotes action that eliminates the cause of fear?