The Geography of Bliss

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The Geography of Bliss

All countries have unique cultural traits and values. Culture can be defined as the guides, beliefs, principles and traditions that are followed by a specific group (Ingram). Eric Weiner in his book “The Geography of Bliss” discusses various cultures in different cultures as he journeys to find the latest data in happiness research. This paper discusses his findings in the country of Qatar and Bhutan.
Qatar is a country in the Middle East that prospered after discovery of natural gas and oil in vast areas. The country has utilized this wealth to make the country a welfare state. The country does not tax its citizens and education, healthcare and electricity are free to all citizens. After a Qatari man marries, he gets a plot of land, a monthly allowance and a mortgage with zero interest. Qataris feel disconnected from their society due to no representation or taxation. Weiner found it depressing that the people have no culture. Rules do not apply to Qataris in a general sense as long as they conform to the Islamic sharia rules which is the main legislation source (Castelier). These strict rules made it harder for Weiner to conduct his journalism as a foreigner. For many Qataris, wealth has been a burden. Going shopping is just another monotonous activity and since many don’t have jobs, the satisfaction that follows a hard day’s toil is missing. The Qataris also struggle with the concept of happiness. From their perspective, happiness or misery is not in human hands but is left to the will of God. Qatar is abundant in world resources but the lack of struggle deters happiness. For happiness to exist, there needs to be some discomfort for perspective.
Bhutan is a small remote country in the Himalayas bordering China and India. While Western nations emphasize on Gross National Product and pursuing economic development, Bhutan has a Gross National Happiness policy. Until 1962, the country did not have paved roads, hospitals and schools. Unlike neighboring countries who depend on tourism for revenue, the King of Bhutan values overall happiness as a more treasured form of wealth, which has resulted to people being happy with the non-concern for wealth. He has made education and healthcare free for the people and outlawed corporate advertising and smoking. Buddhism is another aspect that adds to Bhutan’s happiness where the lines between fantasy and reality are a happy blur. With beliefs like reincarnation, the Bhutanese don’t stress about their failures and achievements recognizing the insignificance of these efforts in the bigger picture. Weiner spoke to one woman who claimed that life is better save for television, which many worry about it’s influence on violence in an otherwise content and polite young people(Weiner). In Bhutan, the high degree of happiness points can be linked to the trust and compassion of the people, Weiner found. The citizens of Bhutan value compassion and display it in their day-to-day lives since it is linked to their views on mortality. Anything and anyone can be related to them and therefore they must always treat them with kindness, establishing a policy of happiness in Bhutan.
In summary, money cannot buy happiness. If we cannot find satisfaction in material possessions, they remain fixtures with no emotional connection. A bed is just a bed and not a place where sleep and rest can be found. Education is just a printed paper if no knowledge is applied to the betterment of one’s life or society in general.



Works Cited

Castelier, Sebastian. “Saudi Arabia, UAE And Qatar’s Liberal Islam: Not What It Seems | Opinion”. Haaretz.Com, 2020,

Ingram, Patreese. “An Overview Of Diversity Awareness”. Penn State Extension, 2017,

Weiner, Eric. The Geography Of Bliss. Twelve, 2008.