According to a study mentioned by Eric Weiner in his TED talk held in Bucharest last year, this is the question that comes up, in various forms, in 80% of all phone conversations.
Here are some more points Eric Weiner makes in his talk that you can watch below.
“The quality of a society is more important
than your place in it.”
“There are more words to describe unhappy states of mind than happy ones,” as a result of which new words are necessary, like the one he coins in order to describe the Swiss: conjoyment (contentment + enjoyment).
“Better to fail for the right reasons than to succeed for the wrong ones.”
(heard from an Icelandic)
Should more countries use the GNH (the gross national happiness policy in use in Bhutan) to supplement the GDP (gross domestic product)?
“Happiness is 100% relational.”
(heard from a Bhutanese)
The genuine smile of the Thai is in their eyes.
Beware of the fact that “You think too much“; it may come against your happiness.
What would you conclude after reading all of the above?
To answer the question in the title, I am now in Poland, in the beautiful city of Krakow. Do I currently live in a society I am pleased with? Is it any different than the society I was raised in? Are there happier places for me to be in? Not entirely – and I am thinking again of the Polandia series of interviews that show Poland through the eyes of foreigners of different ages, races, and religions; not really, with the note that living in a foreign country allows me to choose freely my version of reality within its borders, which I like; and probably.
I believe that happiness happens. Most often unconsciously. It fills us with that beautiful, inexplicable joy that comes out from within to meet the happiness that lies outside ourselves (in people’s eyes, in smiles and first times), and in that meeting the feeling, the memory and the future of happiness that stay with us are born.
Do I have the words to describe happiness or the lack of it? Of course! Do they come easy? They rarely do. That’s why we cherish finding the voice of happiness. That’s why people sing, invent songs, write prose and poetry, or find themselves in other people’s words – a few among so many ways of being happy.
Eric Weiner’s advice: crush envy, do NOT win the lottery, get connected, lower your expectations, and, best of all, in my opinion,
approach happiness sideways.
More about Eric Weiner:
Eric Weiner is a long-time correspondent for the National Public Radio (NPR) and author of the book “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World”.
For as long as he can remember Eric Weiner wanted to be a foreign correspondent. So he could hardly believe his good fortune when, one day in 1993, NPR dispatched him to India as the network’s first full-time correspondent in that country. Weiner spent two of the best years of his life based in New Delhi, covering everything from an outbreak of bubonic plague to India’s economic reforms, before moving on to other postings in Jerusalem and Tokyo.
Over the past decade, he’s reported from more than 30 countries, most of them profoundly unhappy. He traveled to Iraq several times during the reign of Saddam Hussein and he was in Afghanistan in 2001, when the Taliban regime fell.
He’s also served as a correspondent for NPR in New York, Miami and Washington. D.C. Weiner is a former reporter for The New York Times and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. He was part of a team of NPR reporters that won a 1994 Peabody award for a series of investigative reports about the U.S. tobacco industry.
His commentary has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Slate and The New Republic, among other publications. After travelling the world, he has settled, quasi-happily, in the Washington area, where he divides his time between his living room and his kitchen.
His book, The Geography of Bliss, is a travelogue of ideas in search of answers to some pressing questions: What are the essential ingredients for the good life? Why are some places happier than others? How are we shaped by our surroundings? Why can’t airlines serve a decent meal?
At TEDxBucharest 2010 Eric Weiner talks about what really makes us happy and where exactly we should think about moving to.