From Publishers Weekly
Taking a vacation won't make you happy. Neither will attending a yoga retreat, argues Bucholz, a Harvard economics professor and former White House economic adviser. The quest for happiness has launched a huge industry touting the benefits of a return to a mythical, more relaxing "simpler" time. Bucholz calls its proponents "Edenists," and his book is a sharp rebuke to their message and popularity. Happiness is about activity, he says; stress drives us to perform our best, and competition is endemic to human nature. It leads to innovation and keeps us active, useful, and neurologically fit—he cites studies showing that people frequently show a drop in cognitive abilities after retirement. Though his high-spirited writing sometimes forgoes accuracy for hyperbole, he justifies his contempt for the "happiness industry," and advances his argument for setting ambitious goals for ourselves instead of lapsing into complacency or a "Zen-like sense of calm" with humor and conviction. (May)
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