Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness

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9780374114893: Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness

CAN A WOMAN BE SMART, EMPOWERED, AND HAPPY ?

Happiness has become a serious business. Where twentiethcentury psychology focused on depression and illness, in the new millennium scientists have begun focusing on “positive psychology”—the study of happiness. Ariel Gore first became intrigued by this subject when she discovered that Positive Psychology was the most popular course on the Harvard campus. As she read deeper into the topic, she noticed something disturbing: everyone in this happy land was a man. Worse still, some of these new “experts” seemed hell-bent on proving that women with traditional values and breadwinning husbands—those who had made “an effort to expect less,” according to one sociologist—were more content than women with feminist values. The more she read the more she wondered: Can a woman be smart, empowered, and happy? Determined to find out, Gore began her own “study in living”— a journey into the feminine history, science, and experience of happiness. Her results, chronicled with humor and curiosity in Bluebird, are by turns fascinating and enriching. A woman’s happiness may not come easy, and it may not take the forms prescribed by popular culture. But, as Gore discovers, it is not only possible but necessary. Bluebird is a smart, no-nonsense, uplifting study of the real secret of joy, and whether it’s truly at odds with the goals of modern women.

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About the Author:

ARIEL GORE is the author of numerous books on parenting, the novel The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, the memoir Atlas of the Human Heart, and the guidebook How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead.

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The study of happiness has become serious business. Gore finds the fact that virtually all its exponents are male intriguing and, to counterpoint such male domination, offers a female perspective. Positive psychology, as happiness-study is often called, has ignored women’s issues, she says. She proffers her own system for truly comprehending the concept of happiness, especially women’s personal happiness, by maintaining a happiness journal recording the happiest moments of each day. She presents interviews with hundreds of women, including “a council of experts” consisting of artists, service workers, scholars, psychologists, and women’s health-care providers. The search for happiness, she suggests, is spiritual as well as material. She discusses everyone from Thomas Jefferson and Norman Vincent Peale to graphic designer Harvey Ball, inventor of the ubiquitous smiley face. She distinguishes between forced cheerfulness and depression, scrutinizes the growing gender gap in the happiness sweepstakes, and comments on the trend toward treating anxiety and sadness with medication. Thoughtful, funny, and inspiring, Gore is a down-to-earth guide to the elusive human quest for happiness. --June Sawyers

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