A unique cultural history that reveals our often silly assumptions about how we pursue happiness today and offering up real historical lessons that have stood the test of time.
Historian Jennifer Michael Hecht looks at contemporary happiness advice, explains why much of it doesn't work, and why it drives us crazy and makes us miserable. Using a social/pop-culture look at the world, she begins her inquiry through the lens of today's most oft perused paths towards attaining happiness -- money, mood-managing drugs, knowledge, celebration, and bodies -- and then reveals unsuspected insights about how these approaches have faired throughout history.
We moderns think we're so scientific -- but our happiness solutions today are just as quirky as any group in history. With a new-found historical perspective, Hecht liberates us from the scolding, quasi-scientific messages that insist there's only one way to care for our minds and bodies. Rich with anecdotes about both failed and successful paths to happiness, Hecht traces a common thread of advice she calls 'sour charm wisdom' that we can still apply today to create authentic, lasting happiness.