Friday, October 27, 2017

The Blue Zones of Happiness

I am always pretty up front when I say non-fiction isn't the first thing I'll grab from the shelf. Sometimes I'll see one and think, "this is in front of me for a reason" and that's how I feel about this book.

New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner reveals the surprising secrets of the world's happiest places—and shows how we can all apply the lessons of true happiness to our lives. 

In this inspiring book, Buettner offers game-changing tools for setting up your life to be the happiest it can be. In these illuminating pages, you'll:
• Meet the world's Happiness All-Stars—inspiring individuals born in places around the world that nurture happiness as well as Americans boosting well-being in their own communities.
• Discover how the three strands of happiness—joy, purpose, and satisfaction—weave together in different ways to make Denmark, Costa Rica, and Singapore some of the world's happiest places.
• Use the Blue Zones Happiness Test to pinpoint areas in your life where change could bring more happiness—and then find practical steps to make those changes.
• Learn the Top 10 ways to create happiness, as revealed by a panel of the world's leading experts convened specifically for this project.
• Boost your own happiness by applying the lessons of Blue Zones Project communities—America's largest preventive health care project, which has already improved the health and happiness of millions of people across the United States.

I don't hide my personal struggles with mental illness since the birth of my fourth child. Her birth was traumatic, I died, I was revived, and I haven't been the same ever since. My depression is the worst it's ever been, my anxiety is through the roof, I now battle PTSD, and suicidal thoughts. If there was anyone meant to read this book- it's me. I jumped at the chance to review this specifically because I'm essentially desperate to be happy. I don't even want to be SUPER happy, but anything is better than wanting to die everyday, so I went into this book ready to take notes and make changes.

The book itself is a rather fast read and it covers all major areas. The author talks about happiness in different parts of the world, things that could affect your happiness, places that happiness could happen (your job, your community, your financial well-being, personal life, etc) and of course- what IS happiness? We say we want to be happy, but what does that really mean? Of course, it's subjective- what makes me happy won't necessarily make you happy or rate high in your life and vice versa. This book sets out to help you figure out what areas you need to make changes, how to prioritize the things that make you happy, and what to do if you're stuck. Sometimes it might mean being brave and quitting that job you hate and do something that (maybe) isn't as financially rewarding, but it could open up new doors to happiness for you.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book was discussion on building happiness within communities. Of course, it could mean the city you live in or communities could be smaller circles of people that you operate in (clubs, groups, school, etc) and what you can do to foster happiness within the community. I found it interesting because the city I live in has gained a reputation of being the lamer of the Twin Ports cities, we have a lot of bars and dingy areas, we need more jobs and essentially an entire revitalization of the city. We're making progress but when you go to city meetings or even look at the community social media pages you find two groups of people: the we've-always-done-it-this-way group who offer no positive solutions but love to give criticisms, and the dreamers, the people who have a positive outlook and are excited at the strides we're making. I find that when you have those people, and you hear their enthusiasm, it's catchy. All of a sudden I'm doing what I can to join the revolution, so to speak. So that's my really long way of saying I think this would be a really good book for young adults. Seniors in high school, college students, those just starting out in the workplace as a grown up- we (as communities and a nation) need more dreamers, more happy, positive people with the goal of making everything better.

If I had to find a critique, and you know I try to always balance a review, I didn't get a lot of information about mental illness. I'm depressed, how do I get happy? How do I turn the ship around? It's most geared towards general happiness versus specific solutions to specific problems, if that makes sense.

Overall? A solid 4/5 stars. I really flew through this and I could see this being adapted for a public speaking engagement or morale boosting sessions.

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