Have you ever read those magazine articles where you can tell the writer has a bit of a crush on the interview subject? The ones where they meet for the interview in a trendy cafe and document the encounter with ridiculous details that say more about the starry-eyed writer than their interviewee?
The Art of Happiness reads like that.
Details about the Dalai Lama’s “butterscotch-coloured Rockports” do not inspire happiness. I understand the intent was probably to make the Dalai Lama feel relatable and like a normal person, but it sounded to me like a wannabe influencer fawning over a football WAG who is nonchalantly stirring her decaf soy latte.
The front cover’s claim that it’s by HH The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutter is a bit misleading. It doesn’t feel like a joint effort at all. I was expecting a book that discusses the similarities between Buddhist philosophy and Western psychology, and that’s what it is, but the delivery is one-sided in the form of an interview and not a co-authored book.
But presentation aside, it’s worth persevering. Dotted through the magazine-like profile of the Nobel Laureate and spiritual leader of Tibet are useful vignettes to take away and ponder.
Warning: it does contain some truth bombs. And they may hurt. One in particular, about happiness versus pleasure, really hit home and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It doesn’t help that the example it gave is also similar to my own situation.
So, after reading The Art of Happiness, am I on the path to happiness? Maybe. But to be honest, I’m still hurting from the truth bomb.
First published as a JCU Library Reading Challenge book review.
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