In it, he talks about seeing people who "glow" and gives the following example:
I remember I was up in Frederick, Md., visiting some people who tutor immigrants; they teach them English and how to read. And I walk in a room — 30 people, mostly women, probably 50 to 80 years old — and they just radiated a generosity of spirit, they radiated a patience and most of all they radiated gratitude for life. And I remember thinking: 'You know, I've achieved career success in life, but I haven't achieved that. What they have is that inner light that I do not have. And I've only got one life — I'd like to at least figure out how to get there.' And so I really wrote the book to save my soul, if you want to put it grandly, to figure out: How can I be more like that? And writing a book doesn't get you there, but it at least gives you a road map.It strikes me that a couple things are in play here, and he really doesn't think about them. First, the people he's looking at are mostly women, and women of a certain age, mostly doing some work that's either volunteer or not super well-paid. But he says they've got something he doesn't have, a gratitude for life.
I think he's romanticizing these people. But if he's right, then maybe he really does know how to get that glow: give up being an overpaid journalist and go help someone else for little or no pay.* If it works, good. If not, well, start asking the other people you then work with, the ones who glow, what you're missing.
But writing a book, and then giving interviews about the book so that you can sell more copies, all the while noting that professional success doesn't bring happiness, seems all wrong.
It also denigrates the professional or volunteer success these teachers may be having. He seems to think professional success is all about bringing in bucks and having (some) fame, but it's really about doing a job well, whatever that job is. Maybe those teachers glow because they do their work really well; they may not get paid the big bucks for their work (and may in fact be volunteers), but they may do it better than he does his work.
I wonder what the age thing has to do with it? Is there a certain level of security (of housing, food, and perhaps social connections) that (mostly) women from 50-80 have before they tutor other people how to speak English and/or read? (In other words, I'm guessing that the tutors have a reasonable level of security and happiness BEFORE they start tutoring.)
Enough. I doubt the book provides a road map, but I bet it provides him more money, more of what he thinks of as professional success.
* And while he's at it, he can donate the better part of his savings. As he's found, money doesn't buy happiness, but it helps stave off hunger and homelessness, which make it a lot harder to find happiness.