A bestselling book in America has labeled Britain a nation that is not only unable to experience happiness, but positively relishes being miserable. In The Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner writes: ‘I feel sorry for the Brits. The Brits don’t merely enjoy misery, they get off on it.’
The former New York Times journalist adds: ‘In Britain, the happy are few and suspect. For the British, happiness is a transatlantic import. And by transatlantic, they mean American. And by American they mean silly, infantile drivel. Britain is a great place for grumps and most Brits, I suspect, derive a perverse pleasure from their grumpiness.’
Weiner, whose book has received rave reviews in Vanity Fair, National Geographic and the Washington Post, goes on to criticize our ‘chronically polite’ behavior, adding that the only thing worse than our ‘bland British cuisine’ is our ‘bland British personality. For the English, life is not about happiness but getting by. Woe betide the British therapist. The British don’t do therapy for the same reason they don’t buy self-help books. It’s seen as weakness.’
An award-winning foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, Weiner traveled the world for a year seeking its hidden happy places. ‘What I wanted to know,’ he said, ‘is not who is happy, but where they are happy.’
But after visiting countries from Holland, Iceland and Switzerland, to Bhutan, Qatar and Moldova, Weiner admitted his strongest feeling was pity for the poor souls forced to eke out their existence in the UK.