Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: The Happiness Project By Gretchen Rubin


By: Gretchen Rubin

Published: December 29, 2009


Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as "Julie and Julia," "The Year of Living Biblically," and "Eat, Pray, Love." With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her--and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising--she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference--and they range from the practical to the profound.

Written with charm and wit, "The Happiness Project" is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project.

This book sat on my "to read" shelf for months patiently waiting until I saw a one minute video sent through Rubin's email newsletter.  I immediately went to my shelf, grabbed the book and started reading it.  I kept a highlighter attached to the book because there was so much I wanted to remember.  

It isn't that I feel unhappy or unsatisfied in my life, but I was hoping that this would point me towards some sort of direction.  THE HAPPINESS PROJECT would be an excellent book to read anytime, but especially as a way to start off the new year.  If you are looking for a book to help you in setting your goals and resolutions for 2013, I suggest starting it soon so January 1st, you can start implementing your plan.  Each chapter is broken up by months and focuses then on specific tasks to conquer for that month.  By setting goals and then breaking them up into manageable tasks to accomplish each month you are able really get a handle on improving your attitude, your motivation, and your life.

Rubin not only focuses on improving your life but those who are around you on a daily basis.  That saying "If Mom isn't happy, then no one is happy" is so true.  I know from experience, that if I start the day crabby, the whole house is crabby.  This book really forces you to dig deep and by making new choices and improving your life, those in your circle (work, home, friends, family) will notice a difference.  Some of my favorite passages from the book include:

  • The days are long, but the years are short
  • Each member of a family picks up and reflects everyone else's emotions - but of  course I could change no one actions but my own.
  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.  One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
  • Give thanks: for the ordinary and the extraordinary.
  • It takes at least 5 positive marital actions to offset one critical or destructive action.  When one couple's interactions are usually loving and kind, it's much easier to disregard the occasional unpleasant exchange.

I could have written many other passages, but these were my top 5.  Each of them are so simple and yet so profound, at least to me.

Rubin ends her book with ways to create your own Happiness Project along with pages of helpful tips for every facet of your life.  There is also an excellent discussion guide at the end if you choose to read this with your book club.  You can also sign up to receive daily emails from Rubin that include happiness quotes and tips for managing your life.  These emails really boost my day.

If you are looking for something to get you back in charge of your life, this book is most definitely for you.  Rubin has also come out with her next book HAPPIER AT HOME.  I have yet to pick this up, but it is on my list.  

For more on Gretchen Rubin, you can check out her website and sign up for her daily emails HERE.

Follow her on Twitter HERE

Like her on Facebook HERE

No comments: