pursuit of 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!

Women don’t need to stop apologising- men need to start.

Check out my new piece on The Pool, about women and apologising, and why this constant critique of women apologising is sexist in itself.  I would love it if you would click, read, and share on Facebook or Twitter.  Thank you!

“……This critique of the apology is part of a wider phenomenon, in which things associated with girls or women, from the colour pink to domestic labour, are consistently assigned a lower cultural value than those associated with boys or men. Fashion, say, is vain and shallow, while football is basically an offshoot of existentialism. Girls are routinely encouraged to “be anything a boy can be”, whereas even committed feminists recoil at the idea of urging a boy to be more like a girl.

The current anti-apologising crusade is pretty typical of this subtly toxic gender hierarchy, and it’s bothersome, not just because it can easily slide into yet another way to blame women for wider structural issues of discrimination, such as unequal pay. Because, broadly speaking, apologising is something we should be encouraging, not condemning. Saying sorry is a mark of consideration for others feelings, of taking responsibility for our own actions. Perhaps women shouldn’t be apologising less – men should be apologising more…..”

Read the whole piece here

And if you want to read on this topic and many others, 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!

 

I’m a cartoon!

Well, I think life is probably going to be all downhill from this point… I’m the featured subject of this week’s First Draft’s Cartoon in Private Eye!  (and weirdly it feels as though the cartoonist must have had a surveillance camera in our house for the whole of last year…)

 

private eye

 

If you want to see the results of all that bleary eyed resentful typing, you can order the 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