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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!

Hillary Clinton, misogyny and how ’empowerment’ is warping our views on actual power.

You can safely assume that if an activity is described as ‘empowering’ no one in any actual position of authority will be going anywhere near it. Creating a Tumblr of photos of your ‘bikini body journey?’ Empowering! Yet we are unlikely to ever hear the President gushing, “I’m feeling so empowered by these nuclear launch codes……”

I’ve started writing regularly for Time.com. This is my first piece, about Hillary Clinton, misogyny and how ’empowerment’ has become the “sparkly pink consolation prize for the gender that has been consistently excluded from actual power.” I’d love it if you could read and share on Facebook, Twitter etc. Thank you!

Read it here

And of course, if you want more, then why not order my book?  Here if you are in the UK and here for US readers.   Thanks so much.

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!

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!

 

Why parents are less happy than people with kids- my new piece on the Guardian

My new piece on the Guardian talks about why parents are less happy than the childfree, and what we might be able to do about this.

Read it here!

And if you are interested in reading more about why our obsession with happiness is making us anxious and miserable, you can order my book here.

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