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Hector and the search for Happiness – Books for Thought

Hector and the search for Happiness – Books for Thought

Hector and the search for happiness’ is a sweet, thought provoking novel written by the French psychiatrist Francois
Lelord.

The main character, Hector, is a psychiatrist who suddenly wakes up from the tedium of his extremely routinely life. He feels a fraud for counselling people who never seemed to get any happier and he starts questioning himself about what happiness really is. He decides to embark on a journey around the world in search of the true meaning of it.

The book is a little gem with a pleasant and engaging style. It offers food for thoughts and interesting suggestions for reflection on the meaning of life and the role of happiness in it. All that with a charming and sometimes naïve flair.

I love this book and even its movie adaptation maintain its beauty, with a brilliant Simon Pegg and a perfectly suited Rosamund Pike. The film adds a visual touch to the story, through an unusual approach that translates Hector’s passion for drawing, annotating and TIN TIN into a clever cinematography.

I find the story really inspiring: the idea of a multi layered and multifaceted happiness, different for each person is a concept that resonates strongly with me. The book is a novel but could rightly be considered a self-help book for its very uplifting character and its ability to ignite a process of reflection.

In its peculiar way to be unconventional, the book doesn’t really give you an answer, but a multitude of possibilities from which the readers can choose, actively creating their very own idea of happiness.

Taking inspiration from it, I invite you to do these very simple activities that could help you in that process.

Create your very own idea of happiness.

1 Start working on your very own DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS: take a piece of paper, write the word ‘happiness’ in a nice fancy way in the middle of the page and then add all the words that you can think of all around it, in a sort of a brainstorming style. Don’t think too much about it, just write whatever crosses your mind, instinctively. When you think you have finish, have a look at your words. Choose between 5 and 8 of them and use those to write a sentence as a definition of your happiness.

2 LITTLE BEADS of HAPPINESS: what makes you happy? What brings you joy and a gentle smile on your face? Which are the little moments in your everyday life that make your heart sing and fill you with simple, genuine sense of pleasure and satisfaction? It could be something as simple as a minute of silence all for yourself in the morning, before the rest of the family wakes up, the scent of coffee, touching the front cover of a book… Go through your day with your thoughts and collect these special moments. You can then write them on a piece of paper or simply contemplate them in your mind. Remember to be grateful for those things and nurture yourself through them every day of your life, especially now in lockdown. Noticing and paying attention even to the smallest things play an important role into people’s happiness.

3 We listed all the little joys of everyday life. We probably encountered a multisensory collection of moments. Let’s work on a synaesthetic level: engage with your senses, but push them further…
What is the colour of your happiness?
Which is its scent?
If you were touching it, how would it feel?
Does happiness have a flavour?
What is the sound of it?
Again, do not think too much. Do not go too rational…just jot down the first feeling that comes to your mind. Do not try to make sense of it…It doesn’t need to have a particular meaning. But it will offer you deep insights.


Hector and the Search of Happiness is available within the Cornwall Council Library system, both as the book and as a film in dvd. If you enjoys the story, you might want to read more adventures of the thoughtful psychiatrist: in the same series you can find ‘Hector finds time’ and ‘Hector and the Secrets of Love’, all by Francois Lelord.

Books for Thought is a series of posts inspired by books. Readings suggestions, personal thoughts and sometimes simple activities to do to reflect on a theme from the story or topic in the book.