Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

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.

I have no idea how to properly convey how I feel about this book. I felt so much for it and because of it and it's kind of crazy. I saw so much of myself in the author and some of the examples she explained, half the time I was sitting there dumbstruck. She breaks down her resolutions in such a way it's very easy to follow along and she is so specific in how they work out you really can't ask for much more.

Rubin writes in a way that it was very easy for me to relate to and understand. It's a real achievement how much research she did and how many information she is easily able to get across to the reader. Just her Happiness Project in general was a large undertaking but it seemed like so much fun as well. I actually feel happier just having read it and also trying out and noticing little things here and there about myself. This is a book that I think will stay with me forever and one that's definitely worth a yearly read, I can not stop talking about it. I would consider it a must read for just about anyone. I found myself only reading a bit a day so I could draw it out longer, I didn't want it to end.

It's funny that I've reacted to The Happiness Project so strongly too because originally it just sounded like a cute and fun memoir which is something I love to read, but it was so so much more than that. You might think with it being a bit of a self help book that it could get preachy or be filled with boring clinical talk or charts and graphs but it's nothing at all like that. It's someone sharing their wonderful experience with great insight that is very easy to transfer to your own life.

The Happiness Project is an achievement by the author and I would strongly suggest this book to everyone.

The Happiness Project will be released on December 29th!
Genre: Memoir/Self-Help
5/5 Stars
ARC provided by Amazon Vine
The Happiness Project blog


  1. Wow, Alea.

    This does sound original and honestly wrought. And therefore so like you.

  2. How interesting. This is the type of book that could end up cheesy - glad to see it's well done.

  3. If you're interested in a new approach to boost your happiness based on the latest positive psychology research, check out our iPhone app: Live Happy; it's based on the work of Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of "The How of Happiness" and provides a unique method to create a personalized program to increase your happiness.

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  4. I can't wait to read this book! I love that she worked to improve the life she had, instead of making drastic changes - I think that's easier to relate to.

  5. Wow, this wouldn't normally be my kind of book at all, and yet your review has made me want to look in to it.

  6. Hello, my fellow Culture Junkie! Saw your post thanks to a Google alert (I have a similarly-named blog) and love your review...just ordered the book on Amazon. I loved Eat, Pray, Love - I find stories like that inspirational, and more entertaining than straight self-help stuff. This one looks like a good News Year's Resolution read :)

  7. I've seen you tweeting about this one, so I'll have to give it a try!

  8. I didn't think this one would interest me, but I can see how it has affected you. Sounds like a book that we can all learn a little from.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  9. I liked the book it was funny and informative. I think we all need to take time out for our happiness and be conscious of it.

    Great review!


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