Nashville, Tennessee native Linda Leaming aptly summarizes the spirit of her memoir, A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up, when she writes, "See the world with your heart." She shares her memoir of the discovery of happiness with great heart.
Leaming recalls how she played the board game, Careers, which she never won because she put all of her points on happiness; fame and money were of little interest to her. She was in search of happiness. Leaming visited Bhutan several times during her travels. She realized she needed to live in Bhutan, a place and people who filled her with a sense of well-being, a place that made her like herself more when she was there.
How fitting that Leaming eventually moved to the beautiful tiny Buddhist country of Bhutan in 1997 after traveling extensively throughout Europe and Asia in the 1990s. It was in Bhutan that Leaming would assess her path in life, discover what really mattered, fall in love and marry a Bhutanese man, and experience true happiness.
A Field Guide to Happiness is structured as "life tips." Each chapter heading is a summary of advice to achieve happiness, such as "Walk in Sacred Spaces," "Check Your Ego," and "It's Okay to Be Who You Are." Leaming shares her stories, perspectives, impressions, suggestions, and often Buddhist teachings and beliefs to illustrate the advice. Sometimes she compares her U.S. experiences with those of living in Bhutan.
Readers will discover that they become more thoughtful, as I did, mentally checking their own lives to see where they can embrace change to achieve fulfillment. A Field Guide to Happiness is a wonderful reminder for readers that contentment is attainable. We all have the skill sets to be happy, we just have to be intentional about following through.
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Linda Leaming is a writer whose work has appeared in Ladies' Home Journal, Mandala, Guardian UK, A Woman's Asia, and many other publications. She is the author of Married to Bhutan. She lives in Bhutan and Nashville, TN. Visit her website.
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