Episode 8 - Ruth Whippman - America the Anxious
Ruth Whippman is an author, journalist and documentary film-maker from London, living in the USA.
Ruth’s humorous essays and comment pieces have appeared in The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Guardian, The Independent, The Huffington Post, Glamour Magazine and The Pool among other places. She is a regular contributor to Time.com and a blogger for the Huffington Post.
She is the author of America the Anxious, How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks (St Martin’s/ Macmillan, out 4th October 2016).
Before becoming a full time writer, Ruth was a producer and director at the BBC making numerous documentaries and current affairs shows for BBC television.
In this interview, we explore what Ruth learned about the multi-billion dollar happiness and positive psychology industry, noting the numerous similarities and parallels to the hype, hyper-individualism and emotional isolationism of the mindfulness movement. She debunks the myth that our happiness is merely a choice, where the primacy of individual effort is all that is standing in our way. Ruth tells of her journalistic investigations into American's obsession with the pursuit of happiness. While Americans spend the most money on seeking their bliss--whether it be self-help, mindfulness, positive psychology--Americans are one of the least happy countries in the world. Her encounters with corporate gurus and academics, her visit to Zappos and Wisdom 2.0, are funny and humorous. But her critique is dead serious: our social life is in crisis, yet public policy is moving in the direction of marketing interventions which ignore and deny structural obstacles to happiness.