Book Review: Sustainable Happiness by Sarah Van Gelder and Yes! Magazine Staff

Do you ever wonder about happiness? Where can we find it? How we can help our kids be happy?

How can we think about happiness that is lasting? Happiness that goes beyond our own family?

by Sarah Van Gelder and Staff of Yes!


The introduction, by Sarah Van Gelder, begins on page 1

“In the last 100 years we got very confused about happiness. This is no small thing. The way we define happiness drives what we do, what we’re willing to sacrifice, and how we spend our money and our time.

This confusion didn’t just happen. Advertisers spend billions spreading the illusion that more stuff will bring us happiness. And policy wonks of all political stripes-but especially those connected to business interests-spread the message that economic growth leads to well being. Both are false promises that have been instead undermining the very conditions that could lead to sustainable happiness.”

The introduction analyzes where we have gone wrong, and offers 5 places we can start to make changes to get back to authentic and sustainable happiness:

  1. Stop the Trauma
  2. Create Equity
  3. Value Everyones Gifts
  4. Protect the Integrity of the Natural World
  5. Develop Practices that Support our Well Being

She also takes a look at the history of happiness in the U.S. and at how several countries around the world are addressing happiness for their citizens.

Following the main introduction, the book is divided into three parts, each with it’s own introduction and made up of topical essays by various writers from the staff of Yes! Magazine.

Part One: What We Know About Real Well-Being

Part Two: The Practice of Happiness (Or how you can get some)

Part Three: Sustainable Happiness and the Beloved Community

The articles each address a different component of what makes up authentic happiness. The thoughtful articles provide analysis and a wide variety of inspiring examples. It is easy for your mind to jump to what I can and want to do.

I loved this book. Reading it made me happy and weepy.

It’s not often that I call the number on the copyright page to inquire about quantity sales. But I did while I was reading this book.

How are you sustaining happiness in your life?

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