The Happiness Project (Unabridged)
by Gretchen Rubin
Open iTunes to Buy
Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun 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 best-selling 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 12 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. As an added bonus, this recording includes a sampling of Gretchen's podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In this episode, "Choose the Bigger Life", Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, discuss happiness, good habits, and whether Gretchen is going to get a dog.
I was really had great expectations for this book however I was greatly disappointed. I find it hard to believe I purchased a book on obtaining happiness from a woman who lives an apparently wonderful life yet cannot be happy herself. Yes I know she explains that within the book yet at several point throughout the narrative, I wish I could have told her to put her big girl panties on and deal with it. This author has no problems within her life (she has two little girls, a husband who is employed, and she herself, a former lawyer turned author), yet she wants to be happy. Even with that being said, the suggestions and her methods of obtaining happiness seem to be an article similary written by the Hints from Heloise author. Here's the book in a nutshell: get more sleep, be nice to people, buy needful things, and organize your crap. I do believe there are helpful hints in the book but the constant ramblings and lists about her favorite authors amongst other things drove me crazy. Do yourself a favor and buy a book on obtaining happiness from an indivdual who has achieved happiness through an ordeal.
The other review did not adequately summarize this book. It is much more than 'be nice to people and organize your crap etc.' One of the key insights offered here is that behavior affects feeling; that is, we often only act happy when we feel it first, but this is a mistake. We have to do it first and feel it later. What's also valuable about her account are the specifics of how the day to day practice of the plan turn out. She makes the point early on that these specific anecdotes are probably more valuable than generalizations about how to be happy, something the other reviewer seems to have forgotten.
Loved her ideas. Great book, very thoughtful & well planned. Makes me want to start my own project!
Also, I must say, not every author, writing about finding happiness needs to have a heartbreaking story of how they were forced to see the good in a bad situation/pull on heart strings/etc, in fact, this book seemed better than what others might come up with, because it's a book that most people can relate to. Sure, she's not paralyzed, her kids are healthy & she has a home, husband, job, etc. but isn't that most people's problem? We all (mostly) have SO much to be grateful for, yet we find more to complain about than to be happy about. We focus more on the negative than the positive & she tries to stop this way of thinking in its tracks. So, she tidies up several different aspects of her life in order to see this more clearly & do something about it! She points out, sure she has a great life compared to some, but someday she's going to get a phone call that will change all of that (just like everyone) & she wants to know that she didn't take one second for granted, that she was her best self to everyone she knows, that she'll have the strength to deal with whatever comes her way & I think that's something we should all strive for! Love this book. :))