Friday, August 2, 2013

Book review: The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Description from Amazon (below) can be found here along with other reviews.

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, Rubin 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. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

I didn't love The Happiness Project at first. Throughout the book, Rubin discusses her fears that a book about her own search for happiness won't be transcendent-- that her experience is unique to her and that there's not much others can get out of it. And at first, I agreed.

Rubin structured her challenge by creating a a focus for each month of the year: one month she wanted to boost energy, the next she wanted to work on her marriage, then focus on her career. And at first, I didn't find much in it that related to me. So she was a nagging wife. I am not a nagging wife.

But as she got deeper into her challenge, I found more and more that applied to me. I ended up folding down a corner to go back to that page. and then another. and then six more.

I wouldn't say this book was life-changing for me, but it definitely was thought provoking.

One of Rubin's main goals? Be Gretchen. To be herself. Totally something I can get behind.

Another idea Rubin discusses that really stuck with me is when she talks about how it's easy to complain and be negative. It's much more difficult to be consistently cheerful, to build others up, to be a positive person.

I've thought about it several times since then, when I found a negative comment at the tip of my tongue. And I've done my best to hold it back.

So maybe it was a little life changing.

Have any of you read The Happiness Project? What did you think?


Shauna said...

Interesting! I'm going to have to check this one out.

Amanda said...

Yay! I've finally read a book you're reviewing! I loved this one. So many great things to think about. I loved her 1-minute rule about putting up stuff if it took only a short time.

Katrin said...

I started this book a while ago. It's not that I did not like it at all but I wasn't very impressed. I don't know. I expected more. I thought it was pretty boring most of the time. Maybe I need to finish it at some point.


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