In the West, we have everything we could possibly need or want—except for peace of mind.
So writes Linda Leaming, a harried American who traveled from Nashville, Tennessee, to the rugged Himalayan nation of Bhutan—sometimes called the happiest place on Earth—to teach English and unlearn her politicized and polarized, energetic and impatient way of life.
In Bhutan, if I have three things to do in a week, it’s considered busy. In the U.S., I have at least three things to do between breakfast and lunch.
After losing her luggage immediately upon arrival, Leaming realized that she also had emotional baggage—a tendency toward inaction, a touch of self-absorption, and a hundred other trite, stupid, embarrassing, and inconsequential things—that needed to get lost as well.
Pack up ideas and feelings that tie you down and send you lead-footed down the wrong path. Put them in a metaphorical suitcase and sling it over a metaphorical bridge in your mind. Let the river take them away.
Forced by circumstance and her rustic surroundings to embrace a simplified life, Leaming made room for more useful beliefs. The thin air and hard climbs of her mountainous commute put her deeply in touch with her breath, helping her find focus and appreciation. The archaic, glacially paced bureaucracy of a Bhutanese bank taught her to go with the flow—and take up knitting. The ancient ritual of drinking tea brought tranquility, friendship, and, eventually, a husband. Each day, and each adventure, in her adopted home brought new insights and understandings to take back to frantic America, where she now practices the art of “simulating Bhutan.” This collection of stories, impressions, and suggestions is a little nudge, a push, a leg up into the rarefied air of paradise—of bright sunlight and beautiful views.
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LINDA LEAMING is a writer whose work has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Mandala, Guardian UK, A Woman’s Asia (Travelers’ Tales), and many other publications. Eric Weiner included her in his bestseller The Geography of Bliss. Originally from Nashville, she has an M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Arizona; and she regularly speaks about Bhutan at colleges, churches, seminars, and book groups. She is married to the renowned Bhutanese thangka painter Phurba Namgay.
Find her at: www.lindaleaming.com and www.twitter.com/lindaleaming.
“Now, you’ve gone and done it, Linda Leaming. This book has impelled me to add a whole new country to my already-overflowing bucket list. But either way, I’m grateful for this most excellent field guide to happiness. Thank you, my fellow traveler, for sharing the love.”
— Pam Grout, #1 New York Times best-selling author of E-Squaredand E-Cubed
“Linda Leaming writes with a sweetness and an earned wisdom that goes down as smoothly as a good cup of tea. She is also very funny. If you are alive, or would like to be, read herAField Guide to Happinessand find joy on every page.”
— Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss
“Linda Leaming offers us a fresh perspective of embracing life’s challenges while pursuing our dreams. Delivered with down-to-earth wisdom and intelligent humor, A Field Guide to Happinesstakes us on a Himalayan journey to Bhutan while never veering far from the heart.”
— Matteo Pistono, author of Fearless in Tibetand In the Shadow of the Buddha
“With Bhutan as a backdrop, Linda Leaming’s intimate offering of life lessons in A Field Guide to Happiness encourages deep exploration in our own interior landscapes. This gem of a book is an invitation to know we have all we need to surrender in the arms of joy, and measure our aliveness with heartfelt connection instead of speed and productivity. Read it slowly and savor each morsel.”
— Nancy Levin, best-selling author of Jump . . . And Your Life Will Appear
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