Happiness; that’s we all want, right? Certainly all the big letters on the cover seem to assume that it is HAPPINESS that will sell the book to us. The smaller letters add a note of caution …. and why it is making us anxious. Can it really be true that by trying to be happy we just make ourselves miserable?
Melanie Whippman followed her husband to California. Back home in the UK she was a successful TV producer, in sunny California she was a stay at home mum without a network of friends of family. Silicon Valley sometimes delivered no adult interaction all day until her husband walked back in from work. People that she does meet all seem to be in pursuit of happiness via meditation or self-help via books or courses. So she sets off to find happiness for herself. Along the way she finds out that not being happy is all her fault and that those who try find happiness seem to be among the unhappiest.
Somewhere along the line she spends time with a Mormon family in Utah. Here everybody genuinely seems to be happy. Neighbours call in to see each other, people don’t sit isolated in their houses. Even without wine or coffee to sustain them, happiness seems to zing around. Could it be that introspection is not the way to happiness but rather having a network and caring about the people in it?
The American, or rather the Californian, way of life comes in for a lot of stick but that aside some of the author’s observations had me laughing out loud with more than a little recognition of my early steps into stay-at-home motherhood. This is not a self-help book but does shine a light into the pursuit of personal fulfillment that at times seems to be offered from all sides.
DISCLAIMER: I was sent a copy of this book as part of the BritMums bookclub
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS AND WHY IT’S MAKING US ANXIOUS by Melanie Whippman
Published by Hutchinson
Paperback £14.99, Kindle £9.99