Daniel has wanted to be a writer ever since he was in elementary school.He has published stories and articles in such magazines as Slipstream, Black Petals, Spindrift, Zygote in my Coffee, and Leading Edge Science Fiction. He has written four books: The Sage and the Scarecrow (a novel), the Lexical Funk (a short story collection), Reejecttion (short story/ essay collection), and The Ghosts of Nagasaki (a novel).
<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7973728-thrive" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img alt="Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way" border="0" src="https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1400844070m/7973728.jpg" /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7973728-thrive">Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1001566.Dan_Buettner">Dan Buettner</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1215002654">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Reading a book on happiness is a great way to remind yourself how to be happy. <br><br>The book doesn't offer any advice that is beyond the realm of common sense: spend time socializing with others, get good sleep, find a job you love, and live in a place that is fantastic. <br><br>There were a few tidbits I thought were easy to forget: living someplace fantastic and being around fantastic people beats having a lot of money; random acts of kindness helps us be happy; volunteering is good for the soul. There was also the suggestion to keep a gratitude journal! Okay, that makes sense -- write down all the things that you have to feel good about. <br><br>Here's another important one: don't marry a negative person! <br><br>The book is not a great one. In fact, it can't be. Like other books of journalism, it's based on a spectator's eye, a small random sample of interviews, and second-hand reference to experts. <br><br>That doesn't mean it's not an enjoyable book -- it is! But it can't be the final word on happiness. No book can...and the book readily admits that there are a million others in what has come to be known as the "happiness" field (which makes up not just works of journalism, but also, spiritual books, self-help slop, but also academically robust statistical studies). <br><br>Still, if you're reading this at work, it can be a great escape. You don't get to see the entire world of happiness, but you do get to see glimpses of such great places as Denmark, Singapore, Mexico, and San Luis Obispo. If you're at work, this book can be a great source of escapism. It will make you happy! <br><br>But a really honest book on happiness might not be as cheerful as this book. For example, at the same time as I was reading this book, I came across this insight in Reinhold Niebuhr's book The Irony of American History (I was reading that book for a completely different reason): <br><br>"Happiness is desired by all men, and moments of it are probably attained by most men. Only moments of it can be attained because happiness is the inner concomitant of neat harmonies of body, spirit, and society; and these neat harmonies are bound to be infrequent. There is no simple harmony between our ambitions and our achievements because all ambitions tend to outrun achievements. There is no neat harmony between the conscious ends of life and the physical instruments for its attainment, for the health of the body is frail and uncertain. . . There is no neat harmony between personal desires and ambitions and the ends of human societies no matter how frantically we insist with the eighteenth century that communities are created only for the individual."<br><br>If these neat harmonies are so infrequent, then we also need to ask the question: is happiness the enemy of resilience. After all, a little bit of tragedy and hardship tempers the soul against greater hardships to come. And we can't control all the elements that make us happy. <br><br>One of the points the book makes is that where one lives greatly influences our level of happiness. But what if we can't influence this reality? What if we are in the military or sent by our company somewhere to do the kind of work that demands grit and determination? Indeed, I've had the experience of living in one place really great for four years only to move to another place for several years that was not as great to further my career ambitions. It was tough! And if I'm honest, I would say my happy years in paradise weakened my ability to thrive in the harsher environment. <br><br>Since this book is essentially a light read, meant to be fun and entertaining, it avoids some of these hard philosophical questions -- perhaps that's why the book is such a pleasant place to visit (especially at work).
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