At last I have a solid first draft of my book on happiness based around my cycling journey to Bhutan. I’m now on the look out for a publisher. Can you help? What do you think of the proposal below? Would you read this book? Comments and support very welcome.
A Journey for Happiness – a book proposal
A Journey for Happiness explores the most fundamental of human concerns: happiness.
But how much happiness can there be when making money is the central focus of our societies? A Journey for Happiness is based on a true story about an unhappy happiness academic that cycled to the happiness capital of the world, Bhutan. The book will take the reader on an extraordinary journey that combines experiences across life and on the journey, as well as research into happiness, to explore what we all need to do to find a little more happiness for ourselves and for others.
I made an academic career for myself understanding happiness. Oddly, though, that career didn’t seem to be making me very happy. I found it near impossible to be true to the conclusions from my own happiness research. There had to be another way, not just for myself, but for all of us. And so I quit my job, saddled up, and began cycling to Bhutan, the tiny country in the Himalayas famed for its national focus on happiness.
From the outset cycling to Bhutan was absurd. Yet it was a journey that I could not refuse to undertake. The extraordinary 18-month journey would move my soul and teach me things about happiness that my research or my culture never could. The journey was more a process of unlearning; of letting go of all the things that don’t matter in life, and finally living all the things that really do. Along the way, I tasted unbridled joy and pleasure, as well as ferocious challenge and heartache. However, by the end, the journey to Bhutan brought a deep contented sense of happiness. The sort of happiness that doesn’t come and go without warning and resides with me still now long after I completed the journey.
Why another book on happiness?
Most of us would like to be happier, yet it is rare that our choices bring the enduring happiness that we long for. There are many books about happiness, many instructing us how we, as individuals, would find happiness were we to only think, be, and do certain things. A Journey for Happiness, however, is distinctive in several important ways. Not only is it based on an epic journey that no-one else has embarked upon before making for a fascinating read, but it is a journey made by an academic who spent more than a decade building a career in happiness and published numerous peer-reviewed academic articles on the subject. Further, unlike many happiness books, A Journey for Happiness will simultaneously inspire people to consider how they might change their own lives for more happiness, as well as consider how societal organisation at present may pose limits to our happiness choices and offer hope for wider change.
As I cycled to Bhutan I found time to share my experiences publicly through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and a blog. I also wrote articles based on the journey for The Conversation, World Economic Forum, and Independent Online. Along the way there was also media coverage of my journey, including an article in The Times, several radio interviews, and television coverage in Mexico, Thailand, and Bhutan. Since the completion of my journey March 2018 there has been consistent interest in the journey, including public talks (for example, here and here) and media coverage. This demonstrates that A Journey for Happiness would have wide appeal.
A broad outline
A Journey for Happiness blends academic wisdom with an exciting journey that many people will be able relate to. Whilst my academic job was unique, my personal struggle to be happy was not. By drawing on personal experiences, beginning with a story of a boy from humble origins trying to make sense of the world around him, I will describe how our lives are orientated around the needs of the economy. I will highlight how this near exclusive focus on the economy makes it difficult for people, including the happiness researcher that I became, to make choices that bring greater happiness. The aim is to create an inspiring story that is appealing to people that might not typically read either an academic book about happiness or one on self-development. Through that story I address key ideas about the thing we all care about the most – happiness.
After setting the book up as a human story, I will then bring the reader along on my journey for happiness on a bicycle to Bhutan, artfully interweaving the research and personal and relatable introspections into the story. An important element of the book is to inspire the reader to consider their own journey for happiness; a path to their own personal version of Bhutan, be it by bicycle or some other way.
A Journey for Happiness will address aspects of preparation for such a journey, from what might be needed (ranging from the number of pairs of underpants to which electronic devices) and confronting fears about trying something different. I’ll describe how I was inspired by countless strangers that helped me along the way, and also how I dealt with challenges of the everyday sort, such as aloneness, as well as major ones such as hospitalisation from animal bites. I will link these sorts of experiences in with research that brings depth to the account. I’ll examine carefully what happiness is, including the different kinds and the role they each play in our lives, as well as how my happiness, which I tracked daily and have transformed into graphs, changed throughout my journey.
Relationships were an important part of the journey – much as they will be for any journey for happiness – and I will recount throughout poignant stories of those I encountered along the way. I will also explore how support from those we know well is invaluable too, describing a touching development in the relationship with a father with whom I was scarcely speaking to when I left. I will link our individual pursuits for happiness in with a collective journey for happiness, highlighting shifts that are currently taking place at local, national, and international levels. Shifts that give hope that all journeys for happiness might become little bit easier.
An important theme throughout A Journey for Happiness will be the process of letting go. From letting go of notions of what it means to be a successful academic through to beliefs about what I need materially to thrive in life. I will describe how I learnt things that took me beyond the realms of academia and into an enduring sense of happiness. I would become a happiness expert of a different sort – less academic, more real; living less in the mind, and more in the heart.
*** If there are any thoughts and suggestions as to how to improve this proposal, or if there are any connections to publishers then message me personally and/or comment below. Thank you.
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