It made me ask friends and family what happiness meant to them. Read the book and think about that question. You may be just as surprised as Hector as to what you might find! What can the author accomplish from this narrative style that he might not be able to do with a more adult or realistic style? Many of the people Hector encounters in the developed country where he practices psychiatry are unhappy.
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What is the cause of their unhappiness? Is he better off not thinking this way, or are some comparisons useful? Globalization is an important theme in this book. What is the connection between globalization and happiness? Do you know anyone like this, and do you think they are capable of finding happiness? Hector juggles different feelings of love for women in his life. How does his love from Ying Li differ from his love for Clara, and which one is more sustainable over the long term?
How does Hector reconcile this lesson with his continued search for happiness? What does Hector learn about the role that alcohol, beauty, and sex play in making people happy? Are there dangers to relying on these sources for happiness? What is it about the notebook that inspires him to do this? Celebrating 25 Years! Recommending new books each month to spark lively conversation. Feeling lighter, Hector goes back down the mountain and has dinner with Edouard in a cafe outside of Edouard's office building. Here, Hector observes many happy and unhappy people and decides that if he wanted to open a psychiatry office in Hector's office building, he would probably do very well because of all the people who leave the building looking miserable.
Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord
Still while in China, Hector has a second encounter with Ying Li. It's less joyful than the first time, but far more intense. After his time in China, Hector goes to Africa. On the airplane ride to Africa Hector meets Marie-Louise, a woman who lives in America but is traveling back to her home country.
Hector and the Search for Happiness Summary & Study Guide Description
The two talk about psychiatry, since she is a psychiatrist also. Marie-Louise invites Hector to her family's home while he's staying Africa. Once off the plane, Hector meets up with his host for this country: Jean-Michel, a friend from long ago.
Jean-Michel teaches Hector about some general living in Africa, including the fact that they need a bodyguard just for everyday protection. At the bar at his hotel, Hector meets Isidore the barman and Eduardo the drug dealer, with whom he becomes regular friends. Hector learns a little bit about the drug-dealing industry from Eduardo, and Hector gives Eduardo the name of a medication for his depressed wife to try, since her current medication isn't working. Hector enjoys a dinner at Marie-Louise's family's house.
They discuss the country, happiness, Hector's investigation, and family matters. After drinking more alcohol than usual, Hector takes a car with chauffeur and bodyguard back to his hotel. However, Hector falls asleep and when he wakes up realizes he's been accidentally kidnapped by two criminals who thought they were just stealing the car. The two criminals bring Hector back to their boss, who stays in a nice house with fine things and beautiful women.
They lock Hector in a storeroom while they debate what to do with Hector. After Hector slips them a note telling them they should talk, he tells the criminals that he knows Eduardo the powerful drug dealer and hasn't gone to the police.
After learning this and sharing his notebook filled with lessons in happiness with the criminal boss, Hector is let go scotch-free. Upon arriving back at Marie-Louise's family's house, they throw him a party for the mere fact that he survived a kidnapping. Hector then travels to America, the country of More, as he calls it. America is never specifically named, but the reader can assume it's America based on Hector's and the narrator's descriptions of the culture and environment.
Hector is looking forward to meeting with a professor of Happiness Studies at a university. He travels first class so as to celebrate the fact that he's still alive. On the airplane ride to America Hector meets Djamila, an ill woman whom Hector helps to calm down when she panics because she has a very strong headache. He brings her back to first class with him where she can recline and be comfortable.
He also requests from the pilot that the plane be flown about 1, feet lower in an effort to help Djamila feel less pressure on her head.
The two enjoy their conversation and Hector is successful in helping to bring down Djamila's anxiety level while flying. Eventually, she falls peacefully asleep and Hector enjoys the rest of the plane ride to America.
Hector’s Lessons on Happiness
Once in America, Djamila is exited from the aircraft and escorted away by two men in white coats. Hector is picked up from the airport by his former girlfriend, now good friend, Agnes, who scolds him for helping Djamila without the proper legal protection. Hector meets Agnes's husband Alan and her two children.
They live in a wealthy part of town near the water. Context clues let the reader know that it's the West coast of America. Before going to the university with Agnes a couple days after arriving in America, Hector enjoys a solo walk through Agnes's town and also down the white sandy beach near her home. Alan and Agnes help Hector the night before he meets with the professor to categorize his lessons in happiness. Hector feels prepared yet still nervous to meet the important professor, to which the professor is referred by Hector.
Fortunately, upon meeting the professor, the two hit it off well and have a positive interaction. The professor is excited to talk to Hector and validates all of Hector's informal research into the topic of happiness.
He explains his own research, that of his colleagues, and the way Happiness Studies has progressed over the last several years since it has begun being studied. When the professor goes through the process of explaining how to measure happiness and shows Hector his quantitative research involving brain scans, Hector is again elated at his own work and his own lessons being validated. Hector goes back to China before heading back to his home country so that he can meet with the old monk at the Tsu Lin Monastery.
Hector shows his notebook filled with the happiness lessons he's learned along the way, 23 in all, to the monk as they sit in the monk's office and admire the beautiful scenery outside the office window. The old monk validates Hector's work, just as the professor does, by congratulating him for the lessons he's learned.