Ruth Whipmann, a London filmmaker and writer now living in California, wrote an essay for the New York Times that commented on Americans’ obsession with happiness in which she said:
“Cynicism is the British shtick. When happiness does come our way, it is entirely without effort, as unmeritocratic as a hereditary peerage. By contrast, in America, happiness is work. Intense, nail-biting work, slogged out in motivational seminars and therapy sessions, meditation retreats and airport bookstores. For the left there’s yoga, for the right, there’s Jesus. For no one is there respite.”
The piece, which went viral, became the topic for her new, well-reviewed (funny and provocative) book “America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks.”
Described by one critic as a “British Bill Bryson,” Whippman is slated to talk about her book at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at Books Inc., 1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.