A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up
Hay House, 2014 (2014)
Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle
inda Leaming fell in love with Bhutan during a visit a number of years ago and moved there. She wrote about this in a previous book titled
Married to Bhutan How One Woman Got Lost, Said "I Do," and Found Bliss
. She and her husband now live part of each year in Bhutan, his native country, and part in Tennessee, her home state, and she has written a second book about Bhutan called
A Field Guide to Happiness
he has written this memoir in chapters, each of which describes some aspect of her life in Bhutan or in America with her husband, in terms of a particular lesson '
learned in Bhutan about living, loving, and waking up.
' Starting with a chapter called
, and including such titles as
Laugh in the Face of Death
Learn to be Water
, and finally
, she tells little stories about what happened to her to change her way of thinking.
n the second chapter,
Lose Your Baggage
, she tells about what happened when she moved from the U.S. to Bhutan. First she had to get rid of most of her furniture and belongings. She sold and gave away almost everything she owned, packing up what she considered essential and flying with two large bags, which she checked. She carried a backpack.
er description of the flight follows: '
The cheapest way to get to Bhutan at the time was on PIA, the national airline of Pakistan. Nashville to Islamabad took 32 hours with short layovers in Atlanta, Paris, and Dubai, and then there was a hop from Islamabad to Kathmandu, Nepal, where I had a two-day layover before traveling on to Bhutan, and where I had to pick up my Drukair tickets.
In Kathmandu, I got off the plane, but my two love seat-size bags didn't. That's right: the airline lost my bags. Yes, yes, baggage does indeed weigh us down. That is unless we lose our bags in a Himalayan town in transit to another Himalayan town at the edge of the world, and then the weight of the loss of the bags is crippling.
he arrives in Bhutan without anything but her small backpack - containing '
not even a change of underwear,
' but after worrying and complaining she finally decided that she had wanted to change her life completely and made up her mind to do without the bags, which she had to do for the first two weeks she lived in Bhutan before her bags were finally located and returned to her. She then realized that she had managed just fine without her stuff and ended up getting rid of some of what she brought when she discovered it wouldn't really be appropriate for her new life. This chapter is typical of the other chapters. She tells about an experience that changed her in an engaging, personal way.
really enjoyed reading this book. Leaming has a delightful writing style which is filled with humor, love, and warmth. She tells about serious events or just plain funny ones and keeps her reader engaged in learning about a land that is so foreign to what Americans are used to.
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