Publication Date: April 23, 2024
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From New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik, a slim, elegant volume presenting a radical alternative to our culture of relentless striving.
Our society is obsessed with achievement. Young people are pushed toward the next test or the “best” grammar school, high school, or college they can get into. Adults push themselves toward the highest-paying, most prestigious jobs, seeking promotions and public recognition. As Adam Gopnik points out, the result is not so much a rat race as a rat maze, with no way out. Except one: to choose accomplishment over achievement. Achievement, Gopnik argues, is the completion of the task imposed from outside. Accomplishment, by contrast, is the end point of an engulfing activity one engages in for its own sake. From stories of artists, philosophers, and scientists to his own fumbling attempts to play Beatles songs on a guitar, Gopnik demonstrates that while self-directed passions sometimes do lead to a career, the contentment that flows from accomplishment is available to each of us. A book to read and return to at any age, All That Happiness Is offers timeless wisdom against the grain.
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