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A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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

Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2014 by Hay House, Inc.
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Start your review of A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up
This is not exactly a sequel to Leaming's earlier memoir, Married to Bhutan, but it does cover the period following that book. And I wouldn't even go so far as to say it's not a memoir, but it's kind of 50:50, memoir:self-help. She uses anecdotes from her life in Bhutan and the USA to illustrate her 22 best pieces of advice for living a happier life. These are not earth-shattering ideas - in fact most if not all will have the reader nodding their head in agreement or recognition - but having the ...more
Paula Vince
I enjoy reading happiness literature, and this one has some special features coming from the author's direct experience. She lives in Bhutan most of the year, but returns to America often enough to notice sharp contrasts in general styles of living and attitudes. Maybe these cognitive cultural differences help explain why one group has a high happiness ranking and the other is much lower. It was a very convincing read.

Leaming explains how living in an ancient culture has shaped her to think diff
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
**This was a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway**

I'm not really into self-help books, but when an author of one sends you a free signed copy you might as well read it, right? This one was particularly interesting to me because it's written by a woman from Tennessee who moves to the small secluded Asian country Bhutan and ends up marrying a Bhutanese man and staying there long-term. In each chapter she gives counsel wrapped around an experience she has had either in the States or Bhutan to carry acro
James Allen
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved A Fields Guide to Happiness. The generosity, kindness, and religion of Bhutan make it the happy kingdom. The stories throughout blend perfectly with the subject of each chapter. This book is going down as one of my favorites and one I will re-read.
Dawn Thomas
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A field Guide to Happiness by Linda Leaming


256 Pages
Publisher: Hay House
Release Date: October 1, 2014

Nonfiction, Health, Mind & Body, Self-Help

The author begins by talking about her travels and move to Bhutan. I know of Bhutan as the happiest place on earth. She discusses the changes she had to make to adjust to living there where nothing is done in a hurry. She also says going to the bank could take hours just to cash a check. I love the tea ritual and plan on trying it tomorrow.

Henk-Jan van der Klis
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
In A Field Guide to Happiness Linda Leaming shares 22 things she learned in in Bhutan about living, loving, and waking up. Linda first traveled to Bhutan in 1994, and moved from Nashville, Tennessee to Bhutan 3 years later to teach English to children. Bhutan, famous for its King's emphasis on Gross National Happiness instead of Gross National Product, is compared to the U.S. Linda had to let lose of almost everything, her goods in the U.S. home when moving, her 2 suitcases of luggage on her way ...more
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
An eye-opener for a Bhutanese reader like me who have breathed in the fact of living the Bhutanese life in the most-preferred bhutanese way, complacently.
I've often seen the bhutanese compare our country with the Western World and have heard heavy sighs lamenting on how backward we are or how filled with opportunities the other world is. But, seldom do we reflect on how fortunate we are and how spiritually at peace we are here in this small country.
Linda's comparison of America and Bhutan has
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book bring me to the Bhutan but this book is not travel book of Bhutan. I love the way Linda write about to find happiness in Bhutan.
Calm Down is amuse me the way of how fast growing life in first world person's experiences in small little town in Bhutan. Grown up in third would country of Myanmar and now living in first world country of Singapore, I totally understand the way of her frustration become finding happiness in slowness.
Lose your Baggage is also one of my favorite chapter of we
The author visited Bhutan some years ago, apparently on a whim, having sold up most of her worldly goods. The visit changed her life, she married a Bhutanese artist, and is now an advocate for the country and the way of life, dividing her time between Bhutan and the USA. Still a place shrouded in mystery to most of the rest of the world (well...of my small sample nobody yet has known exactly where it is) but a country which sounds like it is keeping its own culture and flavour, and has a plan in ...more
Nancy H
Mar 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book! This little volume is bursting with good things about how to live a better life and be a better person, as it tells the story of the author's life in Bhutan and the United States. There are nuggets of wisdom in every chapter. This is one of the few books that I will re-read. I normally do not re-read books, but there is so much gentle wisdom and knowledge in this book, that I can see myself reading it over and over. Leaming has drawn an honest portrait of herself as she ha ...more
Nov 11, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish
Did not finish - October 2019.

One of a few ebooks I had downloaded from my local library shortly before taking a trip to Bhutan. Unlike some where I skimmed the first few pages and moved on, for this one I at least read a few chapters (3? 4?) but did not finish.

Tone was very conversational, stories and anecdotes somewhat exaggerated for effect, probably wouldn't have disliked it if I kept reading's short, and there are so many books out there to read.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
An honestly written book which can help you learn a lot about the principles followed in a country whose goal is to be happy rather than to be rich and powerful.

The only negative side is that the author gives too many unnecessary details of the incidents from her life as if she is writing a personal journal. The book could have been slimmer.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I started reading this to get excited about traveling to Bhutan last spring. As is often the case with this kind of travelogue, I could have done without some of the author’s cultural essentializing (I don’t buy the idea that Bhutanese folks are simpler/nobler/wiser/etc. than Americans) - but I enjoyed the glimpses into life in Bhutan.
Rachel Jacobs
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It had some great introductory information about Buddhism in it and it helped give a western perspective on the GNH (Gross National Happiness) of Bhutan. By painting a very open and honest picture of Bhutan you can see what is appealing to so many who wish to pilgrimage there.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I absolutely loved this little book! Linda is funny, smart, introspective and (oh, my, how refreshing!) logical.

It might not be the book that will change your life but it is definitely a book that will make you ponder.

...and maybe visit Bhutan.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Happiness and Bhutan are both areas I am interested in. Although I may never get there this author allows me the experience and that makes me happy.
Cindy Brothers
Feb 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-books
A good read for these times. Loved her stories of how life changing her visit to Bhutan was. Loved the intro to Buddhism included. Enjoy!
Jul 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional read. I would highly rcommend it.
Sandy T.  Scott
Sep 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great read. Helpful for our upcoming trip to Bhutan and how to deal with stress.
Moni P
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Don't think I would have read this book, not for my trip to Bhutan. Everything happened so fast and wanted to know more about the happiest country on Earth. I decided to go traveling to India, and looking at the map Bhutan was so close by, so why not go? Not knowing much about this small country hidden between two big nations, India and China, decided to look up some books, and that's how "A field guide to happiness" fell into my lap.

Learned a lot about Bhutan from Linda's book, and loved the st
Mar 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Without even trying, I found myself pausing to compare my life to the things she describes here. Buddhist beliefs were totally new to me! The author describes her new life in Bhutan in great detail, and it is enlightening, a word used but not abused.
Angela Risner
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

To be honest, I had never heard of Bhutan before this book. But I'm so glad that I know about it now.

Linda Leaming writes about her visits and eventual move to this small Bhuddist nation in such a way that it almost feels like the place is Brigadoon. She went there are first to teach English. She met and married her husband there, and now they divide their time between Bhutan and visits with her family in Tennessee.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A FIELD GUIDE TO HAPPINESS......BHUTAN is a wonderful read. What a treasure to find. Authoress Linda Leaming describes her life, enchantments and lessons learned in Bhutan. Leaming moved to the remote Himalayan country to teach English, she married and has lived in Bhutan for 17 years. Get this book, take time, slow down, enjoy another way of looking at " the now". ...more
Well, I haven't read Married to Bhutan yet, but I may have to. Leaming moved to Bhutan against all well-intentioned advice, in pursuit of happiness, and what do you know -- it made her happy. She stayed, she married; she now splits her time between Bhutan and Tennessee.

It's a light read, a fast read, but surprisingly (given that) substantive. Leaming places a premium on happiness, as illustrated in this tidbit of hers in the introduction:
When I was a kid, I played a board game, Careers, which I
I enjoyed this book of short essays on lessons learned while living in Bhutan, but I didn't love it.

Perhaps part of that was simply the writing style, or the fact that each short essay/chapter had similar tones, themes and lessons, and perhaps part of it was me being a bit tired of reading these kinds of books on happiness, meditation, Buddhism etc... (which is no fault of the author's).

Linda Leaming is a woman from Tennessee, who moves to Bhutan to teach English, and decides to stay. She marri
Story Circle Book Reviews
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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. Lea
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, arc
I was skeptical, at first, that I would like this book. When Leaming says, in her introduction, that she values happiness above all else and is known to be a bit crazy and unpredictable and maybe even rash, I started to feel myself judging: "Oh, you're one of those people..."

But I have to say that Leaming put my reservations (and judgments) to rest almost immediately. She is a wonderful writer--very honest and thoughtful. She doesn't take herself too seriously, which I wasn't expecting. And she'
Suzanne Cassel
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly what it claims to be - a field guide. There are no pat or trite answers to happiness in the stunningly pure and universal stories told here. Rather, the people and places that Leaming encounters as she navigates life in her Himalayan "paradise" simply offer her a new and honest way to react to life in a more loving, peaceful manner. The stories are told with fresh eyes and an open heart. You will draw your own conclusions about the instructions they give you as you journey. ...more
Lea  Bowski
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to characterize this book as the title certainly reads like a self help guide but the text is more like a biographical series of essays about the author's experiences living as an American in Bhutan.

That said I really enjoyed it. Each chapter is titled with things like, "Calm Down", "Lose your Baggage" and "Drink Tea" and then has stories about life and culture in Bhutan. It basically gives examples of mindfulness experience without actually calling it 'mindfulness'.

I think my
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Linda Leaming went to Bhutan for the first time in 1994. "A nice diversion," is how the travel agent described it. It was. And it still is. She found a home and a voice among the remote and mysterious Himalayan mountains. She also found romance with an intriguing Bhutanese painter. Her work has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Mandala, Guardian UK, A Woman’s Asia (Travelers’ Tales, 2005), and man ...more

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