The book that taught Catherine Allan the art of happiness

The member of the folk duo Fortunate Ones on why The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama is a great read.
Juno-nominated folk musician Catherine Allan says the Dalai Lama's book helped her overcome her homesickness. (Riley Smith/Penguin)

Musician Catherine Allan hails from Newfoundland, where she is one half of the Juno-nominated folk duo The Fortunate Ones. She says the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness is a book she has returned to often in her life. 


The book is a conversation between the Dalai Lama and a psychiatrist named Howard Cutler. Their conversation reflects on different aspects of the human condition — anything from loss to self-esteem. For me, it was a slow read, because as I'm going through the different topics, I have to think about my own life and how I perceive things and maybe how I can change things. The first time that I read The Art of Happiness, I was working in France as a tour guide at a World War I battle site. We were seven students all living in one house, which, as you can imagine, would present some difficulties. I'm a private person, so it was hard for me to live with six strangers. But whatever I was experiencing, whether it was missing my family or missing my boyfriend, or just experiencing different people every day, that was the main time in my life that I really went to The Art of Happiness. I find it very calming and I would definitely recommend it to anybody.

Catherine Allan's comments have been edited and condensed.