During a point in time when we are struggling to define "sustainability" and how to reduce the amount of damage we do as a species, Mark has offered a much deeper perspective on the drivers of our behavior.
Happiness is the anchor of Mark's theories, and it seems as though happiness is commensurate with more harmonic ways of living and being, as a species. However, "Genuine" happiness is the focus as opposed to feigned or manufactured happiness, and I really appreciate this aspect of the book. Just as Jeremy Rifkin has expressed in "The European Dream", the American Dream of a completely isolationist, consumerist, accumulative and lavish existence is rapidly being exposed as a fast path to depression and disconnectedness. This feeling of discontent is probably the most commonly-shared aspect of being an American citizen.
Mark ties these themes to environmental sustainability through the examination of community models of sufficiency. I had previously lumped the word "sufficiency" in with the taste of medicine and awkward phone calls to distant relatives. However, Mark examines communities that enjoy a markedly higher quality of life through a shared, cooperativistic living framework. Such an examination gives a relative context for how well we think we're doing as a society. Such "happy" societies also seem to have a much smaller ecological footprint.
I feel as though this is a crucial read at this time, as many people begin to search for new ways to plan... on scales ranging from the dinner table to the nation.
Mark is a true master at presenting a massive knowledge base in an effective and economic manner.