Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book Review: America the Anxious by Ruth Whippman

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge,from St Martin's Press, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

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

amrica the anxious cover


After she packed up her British worldview (that most things were basically rubbish) and moved to America, journalist and documentary filmmaker Ruth Whippman found herself increasingly perplexed by the American obsession with one topic above all others: happiness. The subject came up everywhere: at the playground swings, at the meat counter in the supermarket, and even—legs in stirrups—at the gynecologist.

The omnipresence of these happiness conversations (trading tips, humble-bragging successes, offering unsolicited advice) wouldn’t let her go, and so Ruth did some digging. What she found was a paradox: despite the fact that Americans spend more time and money in search of happiness than any other nation on earth, research shows that the United States is one of the least contented, most anxious countries in the developed world. Stoked by a multi-billion dollar “happiness industrial complex” intent on selling the promise of bliss, America appeared to be driving itself crazy in pursuit of contentment.

So Ruth set out on to get to the bottom of this contradiction, embarking on an uproarious pilgrimage to investigate how this national obsession infiltrates all areas of life, from religion to parenting, the workplace to academia. She attends a controversial self-help course that promises total transformation, where she learns all her problems are all her own fault; visits a “happiness city” in the Nevada desert and explores why it has one of the highest suicide rates in America; delves into the darker truths behind the influential academic “positive psychology movement”; and ventures to Utah to spend time with the Mormons, officially America’s happiest people.

What she finds, ultimately, and presents in America the Anxious, is a rigorously researched yet universal answer, and one that comes absolutely free of charge. 


Sometiems outsiders can see the core issue of a problem we are having, because we are 'too close' to the problem. So it is here in this book. Ruth, coming from England, has a different concept from the hard grained American one, of what happiness should be. Perhaps its because the English suffered more in WWII, or are just more stoic. But Americans are more obsessed with perfection and change.

You have to admit that there has been a new industry in the last 20 years, of self-help, bettering one self and happiness pills. When once kids were allowed to be kids, now they are pushed 1-2 grades ahead of where they truly are, all in the quest for better grades, to get them into the better prp school, to get into the better college. What that leads to is strssed out coeds, who graduate in debt and still feel inadequate, thus soaking up the self help books and pills. It is a viscious cycle, that media and social media enrage and propigate. This book shows it all and helps us to understand how we are so caught up in the hamster wheel, that we are afraid of letting go. The author gives studies and research to back up her points, leading the reader to truly question where we have landed as a society!

This book is an excellent eye opener to make you stop and rethink what is going on not only in your life, but that of your family, and perhaps to step back adn make changes for all! I highly recommend it for everyone to read!

About the Author:

RUTH WHIPPMAN is a British writer, journalist, and documentary maker living in the United States. She is the author of America the Anxious and her essays and comment pieces have appeared in various publications including the New York TimesThe IndependentThe Guardian and theHuffington Post. She graduated from Cambridge University and now lives in California, where she is the proud mother of two little boys. Check out her website for more

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