Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pursuit of bliss?

In preparation for Peace Corps in Moldova, several pieces of literature were sent my way from friends, colleagues and family. After reading “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis,” I was reassured that it is possible to find humor in anything. The book is comical and accounts a real adventure in a real person’s life. You will just have to read it to find out what I mean.

I also read a book entitled “Pursuit of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places on Earth” by Eric Weiner. This book really made me start to think about happiness, the study of happiness and the implications for a culturally engrained pursuit of it [happiness]. If you enjoy travel and the study of people this book is a very real account of different cultures and places from a perspective that is not always highlighted. Interestingly the author travels to Moldova in the second half of the book in order to remind himself what “unhappiness” feels like. This really caught my attention and I began wondering if I would leave Moldova stripped of my smile and happy disposition as well.
One point I found very interesting was the idea that ambition (in many but not all cases) is the root of unhappiness. Pursuit of more, of something better drives us to continually be unhappy with the here, now and less material goods that we have… like family, love and freedom. I think it is something that Americans especially need to ponder. Are you unhappy because you are too ambitious or because you have too little ambition? I think there is a happy medium for everyone. Finding it though can be trying at times…

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