Jill Stark was living the dream. She had a coveted job as a senior journalist, she was dating a sports star, and her first book had just become a bestseller. After years of chasing the fairytale ending, she’d finally found it. And then it all fell apart.
Getting her happy-ever-after plunged Jill into the darkest period of her life, forcing her to ask if she’d been sold a lie. What if all the things that she’d been told would make her happy were red herrings? Could it be that the relentless pursuit of happiness was making her miserable?
From the ashes of Jill’s epic breakdown comes this raw, funny, and uplifting exploration of our age of anxiety. Charting her own life-long battles with mental-health problems, Jill asks why, in a western world with more opportunity, choice, and wealth than ever before, so many of us are depressed, anxious, and medicated. When we’ve never had more ways to connect, why do we feel so profoundly disconnected?
Happy Never After is a soul-searching journey from despair to clarity and a forensic examination of our troubled times. Road-testing neuroscience’s latest psychological frontiers in compassion, acceptance, gratitude, play, hope, and solitude, Jill turns the happiness fairytale on its head, and swaps the ‘quick fix’ approach to mental ill health for the long road back to herself.
In the end, Jill has a hard-earned question for us. We’re all looking for answers. We all want the happy-ever-after. What would happen if we stopped chasing, stayed still, and found calm and meaning in places we least expected?
“Funny, wise, poignant and compelling, Happy Never After is a brilliant intersection between searing personal experience and the wisdom of the elders: nothing brings us closer to despair than the relentless pursuit of our own happiness.”
Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life
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“Faced with the crippling paralysis that comes with anxiety and depression, Jill Stark doesn’t completely crumple. Instead, she does what a good journalist does: looks it directly in the face in order to explain, investigate, and reveal. Anyone who reads this book who lives with anxiety will be a beneficiary of its courage and clarity.”
Benjamin Law, author of Gaysia and The Family Law
“By looking back on her childhood, interviewing experts and amassing anecdotal data, Stark expertly links her lifelong struggle with anxiety with a collective social malaise that is exacerbated by our constant connectivity, underfunded mental healthcare systems and the pervasive ‘happiness myth’…The book’s resounding takeaway that there are multiple ‘happy-in-betweens’ instead of one ‘happy-ever-after’ is an uplifting and liberating one.”
“Extraordinary…Stark address[es] this vexed question of what effect our over-stimulated, almost constantly wired brains are having on our sense of well-being.”
The Sydney Morning Herald
“With the same keen eye evident in her previous book, Happy Never After is full of far-reaching and astoundingly thorough research…this is a must-read for anyone who has either struggled with mental health themselves or knows someone who has—and according to Stark, that’s most of us.”
“Her personal experience with anxiety gives readers an insight into why we should hit the brakes on our quest for happiness.”
“This is a book we need. Highly, highly recommended. Puts a deft finger on many things that I guarantee have been quietly troubling you for a while. A book for our times.”
Susan Carland, author of Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism
“Exploratory and explanatory.”
Miriam Cosic, The Saturday Age