happiness

Why the American Dream is Making You Unhappy

“Manhattan is a tough place,” says Donald Trump in the voiceover to the opening credits of The Apprentice. “If you’re not careful, it can chew you up and spit you out.” The camera cuts to a homeless man lying prostrate on a bench, presumably to underscore The Donald’s message that the man really should have been more careful. “But if you work real hard, you can really hit it big, and I mean really big,” he continues. Cue montage of Trumpian bigness- private planes, fancy parties and a series of objects emblazoned with the word TRUMP in gold letters.

This short sequence is essentially the Cliffs Notes for the American Dream. Hard work will lead seamlessly to stratospheric success, while homelessness is essentially just another word for carelessness.

This story, or some version of it, is the mighty engine that propels the American experiment. Greatness is within all of our grasp, and there are no problems, just “opportunities.” (The filthy bathroom in my local supermarket actually displays a sign saying: “If this restroom fails to meet your expectations, please inform us of the opportunity”—as if reeking puddles of urine are merely an inspirational occasion for personal growth.)

It’s the basic trope of every inspirational meme, every graduation speech. Reach for the stars. Never give up. Be the hero of your own life. Little by little, the American Dream has become the American Basic Expectation.

This is my new piece for Time.com.  Read the rest here and please share on Facebook/ Twitter etc.  Thank you!

And if you are interested to read more about happiness and anxiety in America, why not pre-order my book, America the Anxious, How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks (out October 2016.)  UK readers can order here, under the title The Pursuit of Happiness and Why It’s Making us Anxious (Hutchinson, Penguin)  Thank you!

Money can buy you happiness: Suggesting otherwise is borderline offensive

We are deeply attached to the idea that money can’t buy us happiness.  But the evidence shows that it is almost completely false.  And really, suggesting otherwise is bordering on the offensive.  This is my new piece for the Guardian opinion.  Would love it if you would read and share on Facebook/ Twitter etc.  Thank you!

Read the piece here

And if you want to read more about why our obsession with happiness is making us anxious, why not order my book!

The subtle sexism of the cleaning self-help cult

“There’s no question that most of us feel a bit brighter when the house isn’t a tip, but this cultural conflation of cleaning and inner bliss raises serious questions about the strangely limited aspirations many women are trained to have for our own happiness.

While men are conditioned to dream big – to see their happiness in terms of adventure and travel, sex and ideas and long nights of hilarity – women are now encouraged to find deep fulfilment in staying home to origami our underwear.”

Read my new article on The Pool about our obsession with cleaning self help and what it means for women.  If you like it, (or if you don’t!) please share on Facebook or Twitter.

And if you want to read more about the happiness industry and why it’s making us feel inadequate and anxious- why not order my book!

Is crack the key to happiness?

I did an interview with the Anton Savage Show on Irish Radio station Today FM which was broadcast this morning.  It was a lot of fun chewing over some of the big questions I discuss in my book, The Pursuit of Happiness and Why It’s Making Us Anxious – why parents are unhappy compared to people without kids, why Mormons are the happiest people in America and the dark secrets of the strange ‘happiness city’ I visited in the Nevada desert.  Although I fear I might have accidentally suggested at the end that the key to happiness is crack.  Oops.  It sounds better when you say it in an Irish accent.

 

You can listen to the podcast here., and if you want to read more, you can order the book here, or buy it in any good bookshop.  Thanks!

 

Come and see my new Facebook Author page

I have set up a Facebook Author page, where I will sharing updates about new writing, events, other happiness related shenanigans and everything related to my book, The Pursuit of Happiness and Why It’s Making Us Anxious (Hutchinson, Penguin.)  I hope you will come and visit and me over there, and even ‘like’ me (if that doesn’t sound too needy!)

Check out my Facebook page here

And if you want to order the book, you can do so here.

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Great review for the Pursuit of Happiness in the Sunday Times

I was thrilled to receive a great review for my book, The Pursuit of Happiness and Why It’s Making us Anxious in the Sunday Times today, who hilariously flatteringly describe me as the “whip-sharp British Bill Bryson.”

“She has Bryson’s sharp ear for language and its potential for absurdity….This is not merely a personal voyage of enlightenment, however, nor an extended eye-roll at wacky Americans. The book’s serious underpinning is a warning about how happiness is being weaponised by governments and employers, directed towards their people to make them work harder and longer…..

With warm wit and chilling logic, The Pursuit of Happiness shows that the human desire for contentment can be manipulated and distorted until it is barely recognisable, Big Brother as smiley face, a frown turned upside down and back to front.”

Buy the book on Amazon

Buy the book at Waterstones

 

My book is out!

The Pursuit of Happiness

My book, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Why It’s Making Us Anxious (Hutchinson, Penguin) is out this week in the UK! (US release in October.)

“a whip-sharp British Bill Bryson”- The Sunday Times.

(Chosen as one of Newsweek’s Nine Books That Will Change the Way you Think in 2016)

Are you happy? Right now? Happy enough? As happy as everyone else? Could you be happier if you tried harder?

“As your average cynical Brit, when Ruth Whippman moves to California, it seems to her that the American obsession with finding happiness is driving everyone crazy. But soon she starts to get sucked in. She meditates and tries ‘mindful dishwashing’. She attends a self-help course that promises total transformation (and learns that all her problems are her own fault). She visits a strange Nevada happiness dystopia (with one of the highest suicide rates in America), delves into the darker truths behind the influential ‘science of happiness’, and even ventures to Utah, where she learns God’s personal secret to eternal bliss. Ultimately she stumbles upon a more effective, less self-involved, less anxiety-inducing way to find contentment.

Hilarious and honest, this is an eye-opening look at what happiness really means.”

Order it on Amazon

Order it at Waterstones

Order it at Foyles

Order it at WHSmith