The Next Chapter

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.