Sustainable Happiness – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

sustainable-happinessSustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference
Edited by Sarah van Gelder and the staff of YES! Magazine
Published by Berrett-Koehler
Paperback, 168 pages, 1.3x14x21.6cm
ISBN: 978-1626563292

With contributions by writers like Annie Leonard, Matthieu Ricard, and Vandana Shiva, this book features some of the most insightful and eloquent thinkers on the eternally fascinating subject of the meaning of happiness.

Redefines happiness: The book argues that true happiness is sustainable not only for individuals but also for society and the planet.

Already in the general introduction to the book the reader will be confronted with the origins of our consumer culture and how it was created and it may come as a surprise and even a shock to many how we are being duped into believing that we can buy ourselves happiness. You cannot buy happiness nor can you buy love despite the advert that was run by the Salvation Army some years back panhandling for donations that above the picture of a small child and a Salvation Army officer had the caption “Can buy me love!” In fact advertising people went to a great deal of trouble to get us where they wanted us and where most of us are today.

We are being bombarded daily, nay hourly, by messages telling us that more, bigger, and better things are the keys to happiness – but after we pile up the stuff and pile on the hours, we end up exhausted and broke on a planet full of trash.

I found a great problem with this book – no, this is not negative but very positive indeed – in that I had to stop after every essay in the book and really had to think about and digest what I had just read. That is what I would call a good problem and what makes this book great. It makes you stop and think and it inspires. A very powerful book with a compelling message on every page.

The book is an anthology, for lack of a better word, of articles that have previously appeared in issues of the “Yes! Magazine” but which have been brilliantly edited together Sarah van Gelder and her colleagues at YES! Magazine to form this highly inspirational book, where they marshal fascinating research, in-depth essays, and compelling personal stories that lead to a life-altering conclusion: what makes us truly happy are the depth of our relationships, the quality of our communities, the contribution we make through the work we do, and the renewal we receive from a thriving natural world. The authors offer creative ways to cultivate a happiness that is sustainable in every sense: one that is nurturing, enduring, just, and life affirming for individuals, society, and the earth.

A rating of five out of five hardly conveys the value of this book and the way it causes the reader – or should cause the reader – to think and reevaluate his or her life and priorities.

© 2015