America the Anxious

America the Anxious

How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating A Nation of Nervous Wrecks

Book - 2016
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Are you happy? Right now? Happy enough? As happy as everyone else? Could you be happier if you tried harder?

After she packed up her British worldview (that most things were basically rubbish) and moved to America, journalist and documentary filmmaker Ruth Whippman found herself increasingly perplexed by the American obsession with one topic above all others: happiness. The subject came up everywhere: at the playground swings, at the meat counter in the supermarket, and even--legs in stirrups--at the gynecologist.

The omnipresence of these happiness conversations (trading tips, humble-bragging successes, offering unsolicited advice) wouldn't let her go, and so Ruth did some digging. What she found was a paradox: despite the fact that Americans spend more time and money in search of happiness than any other nation on earth, research shows that the United States is one of the least contented, most anxious countries in the developed world. Stoked by a multi-billion dollar "happiness industrial complex" intent on selling the promise of bliss, America appeared to be driving itself crazy in pursuit of contentment.

So Ruth set out on to get to the bottom of this contradiction, embarking on an uproarious pilgrimage to investigate how this national obsession infiltrates all areas of life, from religion to parenting, the workplace to academia. She attends a controversial self-help course that promises total transformation, where she learns all her problems are all her own fault; visits a "happiness city" in the Nevada desert and explores why it has one of the highest suicide rates in America; delves into the darker truths behind the influential academic "positive psychology movement"; and ventures to Utah to spend time with the Mormons, officially America's happiest people.

What she finds, ultimately, and presents in America the Anxious , is a rigorously researched yet universal answer, and one that comes absolutely free of charge.

Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, c2016
ISBN: 9781250071521
Branch Call Number: 306 Whip
Characteristics: 247 pages ; 22 cm


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PimaLib_AmyK Sep 13, 2018

Is personal happiness an individual responsibility? In America it seems so, and billions of dollars are being spent by consumers every year in the quest to be “happy”. Yoga classes, meditation, “mindfulness”, retreats, etc…but studies suggest that Americans are more anxious and unhappier than ever. This book is written by a British expat living in California, and she readily admits her outsider status probably makes her view things differently, but some of her observations of us Americans are painfully funny, laugh-out-loud so. I thought this book was a great read, and frankly, makes me feel less guilty now about my less-than-exuberant-all-the-time tendencies. I’ve always been rather suspicious of people who are happy ALL THE TIME, as surely that’s exhausting, isn’t it? I liked the author’s point that all of this individual pursuit of happiness might be better put towards spending time with PEOPLE, maybe sharing a beer, to stop mixing work with one’s personal life, spending less time on social media, and being comfortable with being unhappy sometimes. Stop trying so hard to be happy, and you might, you know, actually be happier.


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