Wholeness Healing Today

Book Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness

Hector and the Search for Happiness, by Francois Lelord, is the narrative of a psychiatrist and his journey to “map out” what is entailed in creating (or recognizing) one’s happiness. His search seemed to begin as he questioned his own practice, realizing he was dissatisfied because, while he had a successful practice and his clients seemed pleased with him, he realized he couldn’t make people happy. This began his personal quest.

He first decided to take a vacation, a “businessman’s holiday” as the work would be to find happy people and then process how they achieved their happiness. He decided to take a trip around the world to identify those things that made people happy.

Hector began his trip, and as he did, he would note certain things that came into play with others’ ideas of happiness. His travels took him to places where he reunited with old friends, and also to places where he made new friends. He visited, watched, scrutinized and observed people in their daily lives, making and taking notes of his learning. Moving through the vacation, he learned lessons, contemplated his death, examined what made him happy (in comparison to what makes others happy), learned how to measure happiness, visited monks and gauged wisdom. In the end, he came up with his “Lessons”, 23 in all, of what happiness is, what happiness means, and what happiness looks like. From: “Lesson no. 1: Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.” (Lelord, p. 19) to “Lesson no. 11: Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.” (Lelord, p. 71) to the last secrets he discovered: “Lesson no. 23: Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy?” (p. 148) The author worked to discover those “secrets”, then had opportunity to share them with a monk, who challenged him to ask himself if happiness is the goal, as the work of trying to achieve a goal often ends in the chances of failure and that not all lessons apply to all, which then began again the processing of his own happiness.

In the end, Hector returned home, to his practice and his family, but noted that he had shifted his perception to more appreciation of what he already had, which then caused a reciprocal shift in those around him, and he settled in to make more plans for his future.

Lelord has gone on to add to the Hector series, writing about Secrets of Love, Search for Lost Time, among others in other languages. I found the book interesting, with the lessons certainly intriguing, and the narrative engaging. It was a fairly easy read, with the lessons easily recognizable from the storyline. Just a fun and enjoyable read for a weekend.

Works Cited

Lelord, Francois. (2010) Hector and the search for happiness. Penguin Group, New York, NY.


  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
    Licensed Professional Counselor
    Advanced Clinical HypnoTherapist

  • Deb England began working part-time for Wholeness Healing Center in September 2004 and began full-time in May 2005. Deb practices primarily in the Broken Bow office and one day a week in the Grand Island office. Previously she had completed her practicum and internship at Morning Star Alliance, working in the Broken Bow and Grand Island offices.


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