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Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 19, 2010
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|Nordea Bank in downtown Copenhagen, Denmark, is one of Europe’s largest banks. The owners believe that a well-lit, well-designed workspace makes for a more efficient and profitable workforce. Its corporate headquarters and philosophy are typical of most large Danish companies. Photo by David McLain||The Rabbit Jumping Association in Arhus, Denmark, is 30 members strong and partially funded by the municipality. Approximately 96% of Danes belong to a vast array of associations that have served to institutionalize social networking and reinforce a sense of community and belonging. Photo by David McLain||A government-sponsored outing for young couples called “Movies on the Beach” is designed to promote love. In Singapore, the government plays a heavy-handed role in social policy, promoting everything from love to cleanliness in a seemingly endless array of social education campaigns. Photo by David McLain||Approximately 80% of Singaporeans live in public housing and approximately 90% own their own home, giving Singapore one of the highest rates of home ownership anywhere on Earth. Photo by David McLain||Making room for bikes is the only way to go in San Luis Obispo, Calif., a town that prides itself in making recreation and social interaction easier. Newer establishments often have a bike valet service. Photo by Dan Buettner|
“…a book about the happiest regions in the world. [Buettner] also recommends “land-mining your home with photos and memorabilia, so you’re constantly reminded of your history.” Adorning a hallway or a highly trafficked room with sentimental objects is a good way to start.”
“Buettner travels to places…to interview “thrivers,” who report more life enjoyment than most people. He suggests ways that the reader can emulate these cheery folks.”
–Atlanta Journal Constitution
“For his 2008 best-seller, The Blue Zones , Dan Buettner searched the world for the truth about longevity. In his new book, Thrive, out Oct. 19, he tackles the topic of happiness. What are the happiest spots on Earth—and what secrets can we glean from them?” –Parade --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Regardless, I enjoyed reading the book and made a few pages note that reminded me of good quotes. I appreciate the author’s effort.
As many previous reviewers have mentioned, there is A LOT of filler detailing the author's personal experiences while visiting the various "happiest places on earth". Quite honestly, the book reads as more of a travelogue, describing his experiences while traveling to research the subject, than a book on why the happiest people are so happy.
The actual information about the happiness factors, for which most people will buy this book, would have been more appropriately written up as a magazine article - and it would have been a pretty interesting article. However, there just isn't enough information for a full book, which is likely why the author has fluffed it up with stories about his experiences while visiting and traveling in the various countries (this is the travelogue aspect, which is about 2/3's of the book)
The findings, which detail whatever aspects of the country, town or people in it that make them so happy, are summarized at the end of each chapter, and then a final summary at the end of the book (again, all would have readily fit into an article as a much more concise read). I will outline the summaries below (so if you DON'T want to know now and would rather find out by reading the book, read no further!)
To me, many of these have a major "Duh!" factor, and don't really reveal things that you can easily change or quickly improve. They are the kind of things that would require a major lifestyle change, a new job, moving to a new area, etc.) Additionally, you will find that some of the recommendations conflict with others - in one country security is more important than a sense of freedom, while in another a sense of freedom is what counts...
If you are round people who are more positive in general, you will become more positive
If you are around trustworthy people and in an environment you trust you will be happier
If you are in a society of tolerance and freedom, (but where most of the people share your ethnic and cultural background) you will be happier
If you are in an area or society of social and economic equality rather than large disparity of "have's and have not's" you'll be happier
If you live somewhere that cares and provides for both the old and the young you'll be happier
If you have a job you enjoy and you don't work too much, and take time to volunteer you'll be happier
If you have activities that you enjoy doing and live in an area with many things to do you'll be happier
If you have a cozy home and frequently socialize with others you'll be happier
If your taxes are used to help facilitate the above, even if it means having most of your income going towards taxes, you'll be happier.
Security is more important than the feeling of freedom, if you have security you'll be happier
If basic culture is created by government: everyone has a home, good education, a good living wage, and the necessary social and community services people are happier
Status equality makes people happier
Living your values makes people happier
Living somewhere warm and sunny makes people happier
Having a personal sense of freedom makes people happier
Enjoying yourself and laughing a lot makes people happier
Having just enough money to meet your needs makes people happier
Having strong spiritual faith and being grateful for what you have makes people happier
Over-socializing makes people happier
A strong sense of family and friends makes people happier
San Luis Obispo, California
Citizen empowerment and sense of community makes people happier
Anti-smoking policies makes people happier
Minimal signage around town and lots of parks and green spaces makes people happier
Prohibiting drive through restaurants makes people happier
Favoring pedestrians over cars and having a town square makes people happier
Being involved in the arts or supporting the arts makes people happier
Being able to work at home or work for yourself makes people happier
Last Chapter Summary:
The author takes his findings from the four countries above and groups them together into six categories...
Community - does it help you feel good and support your values?
Workplace - do you enjoy your job and not spend too much time there?
Social life - Do you have friends and family you spend quality time with and that are positive influences?
Financial life - Do you have just enough without over extending and a bit of savings, too?
Home - Do you have a positive living environment that helps you feel good?
Self - Do you have the education, sense of purpose and healthy lifestyle needed to support happiness? Do you have a sense of gratitude, openness, loving, and appreciation of the arts?
So there you have it, the main points summed up. If you enjoy travelogues and stories of personal experiences and encounters, than you will likely enjoy this book. However, if you're seeking a more informational, resource rich guide to personal happiness you may want to look elsewhere.