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Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness Hardcover – January 19, 2010
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The study of happiness has become serious business. Gore finds the fact that virtually all its exponents are male intriguing and, to counterpoint such male domination, offers a female perspective. Positive psychology, as happiness-study is often called, has ignored women’s issues, she says. She proffers her own system for truly comprehending the concept of happiness, especially women’s personal happiness, by maintaining a happiness journal recording the happiest moments of each day. She presents interviews with hundreds of women, including “a council of experts” consisting of artists, service workers, scholars, psychologists, and women’s health-care providers. The search for happiness, she suggests, is spiritual as well as material. She discusses everyone from Thomas Jefferson and Norman Vincent Peale to graphic designer Harvey Ball, inventor of the ubiquitous smiley face. She distinguishes between forced cheerfulness and depression, scrutinizes the growing gender gap in the happiness sweepstakes, and comments on the trend toward treating anxiety and sadness with medication. Thoughtful, funny, and inspiring, Gore is a down-to-earth guide to the elusive human quest for happiness. --June Sawyers
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It is a true, no nonsense exploration of what happiness truly consists of.
Ariel Gore, though extensive research, countless quotes from women around her, with deep intelligence and compassion, takes us through all the accepted notions of what happiness should be like, and what women were taught to expect from an early age. Halfway through the book, suddenly and with no warning, everything becomes clear. There is no fake optimism, forced emotion, or New Age one-ness in the pages of "Bluebird".
But reaching the end, between the lines of this incredibly sharp study, well researched and truly personal without indulgence, the reader feels a true uplift, a real feel for what it means to be happy. Behind the words, there is a precious jewel glistening in the shadows. Ariel Gore's revelation is straightforward: the jewel is ours, ours to keep, ours to enjoy. It was ours all along, its beauty somewhat hidden behind our various dissatisfactions and frustrations. "Bluebird" gives it back to us, as logically and simply as in giving us the solution to a mathematical problem. Definitely a must read for women of all ages.
A (wo)manifesto for happiness, _Bluebird_ tailors the newly emerging field of positive psychology to fit the rest of us--i.e., females. As Ariel herself explains: "This is a book about shaping our own realities--about better understanding our emotional lives so we might become more active players in their creation--so I think it's important to consider in what ways we create our realities. Because as it turns out, women's notions about personal happiness are all tangled up with our ideas about privilege, selfishness, and social responsibility."
And, Ariel's book helps us untangle ourselves from those ingrained societal ideas and scripts about happiness.
Sure--as the prolific research flying off the presses of positive psychology is showing--ingredients such as kindness, gratitude, meditation, relationships, inspiration, accomplishments, and metaphysical worthiness are essential for our happiness. But, as Ariel uncovers, even more crucial is being able to rejoice in the midst of suffering. In her own brilliantly illuminating words, Ariel concludes that:
"There is no 'happily ever after.' There is only meditation, action, change, friendship, idea, inspiration, creation.
We spin this light out of darkness."
Other crucial factors of happiness she discovers include having the courage to question the "scripts for happiness" and being able to cultivate a "a childlike curiosity coupled with a very grown-up understanding of self-respect and self-protection."
In contrast to other books on happiness, this one does not offer a one-size-fits-all script. Instead, it teaches us how to lose the societal scripts and create our own beautifully improvised life performances by tuning in to our innate preferences for joy.
Happiness is in the heart of the beholder.