I wanted to plug a just-released book by my brilliant friend Ruth Whippman, which I had the good fortune of reading parts of in utero (uh, the book’s utero, not my own, though, fun fact: Ruth’s book release date was the same as my due date for Baby #2: October 4). America the Anxious: How Our Pursuit of Happiness is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks is out now, and it’s a doozy of a read: laugh-out-loud funny, incredibly insightful, at times infuriating in the way that things you know are true but don’t quite want to believe about yourself are infuriating, and above all, smart. Ruth’s premise? That here in the good old U.S. of A., we’re so concerned with making ourselves happy that we’ll try absolutely anything to get there—even when the tactics (yoga, mindfulness, self help, slavish devotion to work) leave us, ironically, incredibly uptight and anxious.

Of particular note is her chapter on parenting, in which she gently disembowels the American practice of attachment parenting (frankly, on most points I’m with her) and illustrates with research and hysterically funny vignettes from the playground how American parents sabotage their own possibility of happiness by putting their entire emphasis on making their kids happy instead. My jaw dropped when she described a Facebook post in which a mom laments telling her child to “wait a minute” while she finishes doing the dishes, and when the child cries, realizes that she’s mistakenly given her the (wrong!) message that cleaning comes before her own flesh and blood. Ultimately, the mom reports, she’s decided she will “never make [her daughter] wait” again (and all her Facebook friends praise her for her selflessness). Talk about a nation of nervous wrecks.

This witty, from-the-trenches reporting is the hallmark of America the Anxious. Part memoir, part research study, it’s a thought-provoking and terrific read. Check it out!


Get America the Anxious on Amazon

Or find it at your local bookstore! (Here’s mine.)

Visit Ruth’s website

 

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