Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: The Happiness Project

Title The Happiness Project
By Gretchen Rubin
Genre Self help
Pages 292

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—now updated with new material by the author—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. (From Goodreads)

First Sentence
I'd always vaguely expected to outgrow my limitations.

What it has going for it
I've been hearing about this book for years it seems like. I was intrigued. I'm not the most happy, optimistic person in the world so I thought it might have at least a line or two of advice. Mostly the book reads as a autobiography of Gretchin Rubin for a year. She organized each month to have a certain goal and then had smaller goals each month to reach her ultimate goal. Mostly, I thought her goals were great and each were things I think most people would benefit by reaching for. I've heard some nasty reviews on this book and poor Gretchin herself. Things like: "She's a privileged rich girl who doesn't understand the real trials of life". Ouch! I, however, think those people missed the mark. The goals that the author sets for herself are totally doable for anyone, in any situation of life. Things like de-cluttering, exercising, being kinder to you spouse and kids, and focusing a little more on things that make you happy all sound doable to me. I particularly liked how she talked about how happiness comes from growth. I couldn't agree more. When I'm not learning something knew or growing and maturing, I feel stagnant and grouchy. That idea I can get behind!

What's lacking
Like most of these books, I didn't find any mind blowing revelations. There was nothing new and groundbreaking. Which isn't surprising, considering the author researched happiness from books that have already been written. Still, it offered her opinion and everyone has an opinion and sometimes that opinion coming from a certain person is just what you need. My biggest issue with the book was that I didn't feel like the author really changed much in the whole year and I don't think she's going to stick to any of her goals so...what was the point?

Yea or Nay?
If you enjoy these sorts of books and are looking for some ways to be more happy, I'd recommend this one. If you need something more drastic, maybe skip it and go straight for a trip to Bali to meditate your way to happiness....I think I might need to do that.


  1. A trip to Bali probably would have been more therapeutic, but I did enjoy this book. I thought it had good advice, even though -- like you -- I didn't think she said anything super new or mind-blowing.

    1. Yea, I enjoyed it, I just wasn't blown away.

  2. I've always been curious about this one too, though I doubt it will actually ever make it to the top of the pile.

    1. Yeah, it was a spur of the moment airport buy for me.

  3. Your comment about being happier when you are learning and growing hits home with me. I get in a real funk with I get stagnant.

  4. I don't like Self Help books much. Like you said, I don't think they offer more than an opinion and sometimes one person's opinion holds more weight than others. But, unless people are willing to do it themselves, which is my problem, then the book really does nothing if that makes any sense.

    1. Yeah, it makes sense. I liked that the author in this one did do what she preached...for the year anyway. I just wonder if she continued with her goals.

  5. I've had this book on my shelf for some time and have yet to actually read it. And how you felt about seems pretty much what I'm expecting from it, so I do want to read it some day. Hopefully!