The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project: 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, Rubin chronicles her adventure...

Title:The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0061583251
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:301 pages

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun Reviews

  • Alea
    Dec 05, 2009

    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 rea

    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.

  • Kate
    Jan 18, 2010

    Wow, when did I become so cynical and not even realize it?

    Just like Julia from

    I too am in danger of becoming nothing but a secretary on a road to nowhere, drifting toward frosted hair and menthol addiction.

    However, this book helped me get out of my funk and become more creative. I didn't want to review this book until I tried my own "happiness project" because to be honest I was very sceptical about the results.

    So, my personal j

    Wow, when did I become so cynical and not even realize it?

    Just like Julia from

    I too am in danger of becoming nothing but a secretary on a road to nowhere, drifting toward frosted hair and menthol addiction.

    However, this book helped me get out of my funk and become more creative. I didn't want to review this book until I tried my own "happiness project" because to be honest I was very sceptical about the results.

    So, my personal journey to getting back on track to being happier started in the LGA airport in the Hudson News Bookstore. I was traveling back to Chicago after visiting family in Long Island and Conneticut for Easter. My plane was delayed and I had finished my other book I had brought with. So, being bored and knowing I was going to sit there for a while, I purused the books at Hudson News. This is the one that spoke to me and I started reading it in the airport.

    Most of the information isn't anything spectcular and it's all stuff that I already knew, but obviously I needed to hear it again for the millionth time, before it finally sunk in. I wasn't happy because I wasn't making time for the one thing that really makes me happy...writing every day.

    So, I decided to start my own project. The first thing I did was clear the clutter out of my apartment. Not only did this make packing tons easier for my move to my new home, but it also lifted a mental weight that too much stuff can have over you and you'll not even realize it. This was a good first step for me. The stuff I didn't have use for I gave away or donated in hopes that someone else who does need it can.

    The second step was making more room for creativity every single day. I am really good at making time to read (since I have an hour commute via train) but I wasn't showing up at the page everyday to write and that really soured my mood. So, I started a journal where I would write just a sentence every single day, even when I didn't want to, and you know what? Because I showed up and made the time for creativity, I started writing more than a sentence. I was writing paragraphs, and then pages. That made me really happy and for the first time in a long time I realized, I can do this!

    The third and final step (and the one that's still a work in progress for me) is spending money on unnecessary things. I became addicted to internet shopping. It's really easy to do. I would just log on to some of my favorite sites: Etsy, Sephora, Groupon, Amazon and could order in an instant anything I wanted via my credit card. Pretty soon, I was in debt, and I had massive amounts of unnused products, books, and other things I didn't need. So, I stopped spending on the internet all together and bought only the things I absolutely needed like food and began to use up the things I had lying around. This made me feel happier, however, it's still hard for me to go into a store and say, "yes, this is a really good deal, but I don't need it." I'm slowly getting better at this and practice does make perfect.

    Like Gretchen, I too just wanted to share my thoughts on this subject, and hopefully inspire others, not to do the same things I've done, but to find their own passion that will make them happier every day and grateful for the little things that we tend to overlook.

  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    Jan 25, 2010

    Author Gretchen Rubin dives into the stunt genre (where the author does something for a year and then writes a clever book about it) with a project on living happy for a year. Sitting on the bus one day, she realizes her life is zipping along and wonders if she can't make her days happier, and write a book about it and make some money. She devises a plan for happiness, reading all sorts of books on happiness, from a wide variety of authors.

    I would have liked to have been more enthusiastic about

    Author Gretchen Rubin dives into the stunt genre (where the author does something for a year and then writes a clever book about it) with a project on living happy for a year. Sitting on the bus one day, she realizes her life is zipping along and wonders if she can't make her days happier, and write a book about it and make some money. She devises a plan for happiness, reading all sorts of books on happiness, from a wide variety of authors.

    I would have liked to have been more enthusiastic about the book, but it seems we have the same tired themes (simplify! find joy!) regurgitated into the tired stunt genre form.

    In January, she focuses on simplifying and organizing, because hey, we are all a lot happier when we are not throwing a tantrum looking for keys or the remote. I will admit that after reading the chapter, I cleaned out my closets.

    The second month, she focuses on her marriage. It is in this chapter that I decide I simply can't STAND the author. I'm really happy I'm not married to her. NAG NAG NAG NAG NAG! Suddenly all those crabby wife jokes* make perfect sense. (She admits that she nags and is often argumentative, so I will grudgingly give her points for honesty.)

    But while I was shaking my head at her bitchiness toward her husband, I had an epiphany of sorts. While I'm not a nagger, I realize I can be a pouter and that I don't do nearly enough to ensure my husband is happy. Really happy. I take it for granted that he's there, and I shouldn't. Making him happier will make me happier. I can work with that.

    One month focuses on friendships. She encourages us to make time for friends and to be there. All those events you don't like? (Tupperware sales party!) Suck it up and BE THERE. It means a lot. Another thing Rubin suggests is to reach out and make three new friends. I have to admit that's a tough one for me, I can't keep up with the good pals I have now. Plus, as I get older and social anxiety creeps up like a cheap pair of underwear, the friend making thing takes much more effort.

    Another month is about leisure and play. In this chapter she talks about starting a collection. People really do get some pleasure out of searching for treasures and seeing them accumulate. (anyone remember Stimpy and his magic nose goblins?) And this is a part of happiness that I can't work with. I like simplicity. The one thing I struggle with collecting - books. I love to have them, but on the other hand, I don't want to be tied to all sorts of stuff. Rest assured, Goodreaders, you will NEVER see me on an episode of

    .

    There were a few things that I

    like about the book, things I thought she got just right. In one chapter, she suggested keeping a gratitude journal. This I dig. Far too often we take stuff for granted. Especially here in a developed country. When you were thirsty today did you have to walk 4 miles for clean water to drink? Can you wipe your own ass? (being able to do this is highly underrated.) Be thankful.

    October's chapter was PAY ATTENTION. Be in the moment.

    November: Keep a contented heart. Here she mentions laughing, using good manners and giving positive reviews. (Sorry I'm not taking your advice on that one right now, Gretchen.)

    The question that remains is, what

    happy? What makes you happy? Are you happy? How do you define it? Is happy being in a constant state of bliss or exuberance? Or is happiness found in contentment? Or is happy simply not wanting to eat a gun today?

    Where does this pressing NEED for happiness come from?

    In 2008, more than 164 million prescriptions were written for anti-depressants here in the United States. What the hell are we so unhappy about? What exactly are we seeking? Why can we not seem to find it?

    There are thousands of books on finding happiness.

    I'm not convinced this is the best one.

    *

    A drunk is driving through the city and his car is weaving violently all over the road. A cop pulls him over and asks, "Where have you been?"

    "I've been to the pub," slurs the drunk.

    "Well," says the cop, "it looks like you've had quite a few."

    The drunk grins.

    "Did you know," says the cop, standing straight and folding his arms, "that a few intersections back, your wife fell out of your car?"

    "Oh, thank heavens!" sighs the drunk. "For a minute there, I thought I'd gone deaf."

  • Michele Chapman
    Feb 24, 2010

    I couldn't finish it. In fact, I couldn't get past page 49, and that really hurt, because I BOUGHT this book in HARDBACK. Sigh. And I wanted to like it, I swear, but it just wasn't happening for me.

    I picked this book up because I have an interest in how others achieve happiness, enjoy getting a glimpse into how others conduct their lives on a daily basis (I even find grocery selections interesting, and what goes into them), and have gotten a kick out of several stunt journalism projects. Rubin's

    I couldn't finish it. In fact, I couldn't get past page 49, and that really hurt, because I BOUGHT this book in HARDBACK. Sigh. And I wanted to like it, I swear, but it just wasn't happening for me.

    I picked this book up because I have an interest in how others achieve happiness, enjoy getting a glimpse into how others conduct their lives on a daily basis (I even find grocery selections interesting, and what goes into them), and have gotten a kick out of several stunt journalism projects. Rubin's research and methodical attempts at achieving her elusive gold star happiness appealed to me. However, the persona Rubin projects on paper didn't appeal to me. Perhaps in real life she is a fantastic person to hang out with, but if this book was her resume, I would have to pass on an invitation to grab coffee.

    I find it interesting that early on in the book she recounts a conversation she had with someone at a party in regards to her happiness project, and this individual pointed out that she probably would not have a wide appeal, stating that her upper East Side apartment, law degree, and seemingly charmed life would alienate her to many readers. As I went on with the book, I found myself agreeing more and more with that nameless individual.

    While I do not think the book is bad, it just isn't a book that speaks to me.

  • Laura
    Jul 05, 2011

    I don’t know which is stranger – that people like this book, or that it was written in the first place. It came into being because Gretchen Rubin, a woman with a bizarrely charmed life, decided to spend a year devoting each month to a “theme” designed to make herself happier and then write a book about it. The whole thing smacks not only of a calculated stunt, but also of the sort of “list” approach she used for her breathtakingly trite book on Churchill. Regardless, any reasonable person would

    I don’t know which is stranger – that people like this book, or that it was written in the first place. It came into being because Gretchen Rubin, a woman with a bizarrely charmed life, decided to spend a year devoting each month to a “theme” designed to make herself happier and then write a book about it. The whole thing smacks not only of a calculated stunt, but also of the sort of “list” approach she used for her breathtakingly trite book on Churchill. Regardless, any reasonable person would wonder why this woman was worrying about how to be “happier” than she already was with her “soul mate” husband, two healthy children, a family she likes, in-laws* she likes, plenty of free time, and money coming out the wazoo. The obvious question is: “If she wants to be happier, why doesn’t she do more service?” The question you’ll also probably ask, repeatedly, is “What could a smug perfectionist with an easy life possibly teach me?” Honestly, I have no idea, unless it hasn’t already occurred to you to.....are you sitting down?.....stash your crap in file boxes instead of leaving it strewn all over, and stop nagging your husband. Other previously unmined gems of insight: “You can’t change others,” “Exercise makes you feel better,” “Be friendly,” “Do things you like to do,” “Be grateful,” and, my personal favorite, “Money can buy happiness.”

    Even better, every ten sentences or so she inserts – not to be confused with “works in” – a quotation that sounds like the first entry in its category from

    . Based on the self-congratulatory tone she doesn’t quite have the skill to avoid, I’d guess she’s deeply invested in showing she is Educated, and has Done Research. I think you’re also supposed to surmise she’s really smart, based on the number of references to editing the Yale Law Review or clerking for a Supreme Court Justice. What she never mentions, yet you can also surmise, is the fact that money is no object. Neither is time.

    While being rich and leisured doesn’t disqualify her from having wisdom, it does place her situation in context. She’s not struggling to find happiness amidst real trials – illness, poverty, loneliness, relatives who drive you bonkers – she just wants to be “happier.” What’s amazing is that with all her research, she doesn’t come up with anything profound. At best, her paper-thin “insights” are merely summaries of other people’s research. And yet, inexplicably, a couple of women in my book group actually liked it! These women don’t sit around wondering if they’re happy enough – they probably wonder if they’re faithful enough and doing enough good in the world. So what did they find valuable?? A couple of them said that the organization chapter prompted them to clean out closets, which is always good, but there are at least a hundred books on de-cluttering that were written by people who were already aware of file boxes. (I know this because my sister has bought all those books and occasionally gives them away as presents, unless you’re really lucky and she just throws your stuff out without being asked.) So the organization chapter struck me as a bit silly. But not as silly as turning to Nietzsche for tips on happiness. And I think that indicates the biggest flaw – her approach is entirely secular. Joy and fulfillment (a bit deeper and more lasting than “happiness”) come through doing good and, eventually, becoming good. Every now and then she stumbles as if by accident upon versions of the Golden Rule Lite, but, naturally, in her eyes the point of being nice to others is to make herself happier.

    *Father-in-law is Robert Rubin, Clinton’s Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. He later served on Citigroup’s board as Senior Counselor. During his eight years at Citigroup, shareholders suffered losses of more than 70%; Rubin earned over $126 million.

  • Lori
    Jul 31, 2012

    I found it the epitomy of self absorbtion. I've read many happiness books, often looking to use excerpts in my hospice speaches and volunteer training, but I felt this was so dumbed down. If you don't mind the constant references to her clerking for Supreme Court Justice O'Connor and her monied life and the mundane attempts at her "happiness project" you might be ok. Anyone who ever had any religious, marital of psych type of background, ie "Golden Rule", would be able to do this and probably al

    I found it the epitomy of self absorbtion. I've read many happiness books, often looking to use excerpts in my hospice speaches and volunteer training, but I felt this was so dumbed down. If you don't mind the constant references to her clerking for Supreme Court Justice O'Connor and her monied life and the mundane attempts at her "happiness project" you might be ok. Anyone who ever had any religious, marital of psych type of background, ie "Golden Rule", would be able to do this and probably already is.

    I didn't realize through the library's description it would carry you through one month at a time of her life. Hey, be kind, take your husband's clothes to the cleaners before he asks you?? Plan a super party for an inlaw, by gosh, just jump in and plan it and take control. Don't snipe at your spouse over stupid things for one whole month and you will feel happier.

    I realize she comes from a monied background and that doesn't influence my take at all. The book was shallow and just another version of I'm unhappy, it hit me one day, so I called my hubby outside his office and told him to look down at me while I waved because it made me happy type blog.

    Maybe the intentions were good to get folks to start their own plan, maybe I'm too harsh because I strive to make others and myself happy knowing full well each day is a gift and it's not about money, position, bragging or power, it's about being the best you an be at that moment every day, 24/7, and yes, that means helping your fellow mankind (never mind your own spouse without resentment). This book was very 80's without the good advice.

  • Katie
    May 19, 2013

    Let me preface this review by saying, I really tried to like this book. I found it at Sam's Club for $7 when I was on my monthly TP run. The cover looked fun. The concept up lifting. I went into reading it with high hopes. I didn't look at any previous review (I should have). So, here goes... This book should be re-titled "The Year I Spent Trying To Be Less of an Entitled B*tch (And Failed!)".

    The author is a rich white lady living in the upper east side of manhattan with her two healthy little

    Let me preface this review by saying, I really tried to like this book. I found it at Sam's Club for $7 when I was on my monthly TP run. The cover looked fun. The concept up lifting. I went into reading it with high hopes. I didn't look at any previous review (I should have). So, here goes... This book should be re-titled "The Year I Spent Trying To Be Less of an Entitled B*tch (And Failed!)".

    The author is a rich white lady living in the upper east side of manhattan with her two healthy little girls and her (as she described) gorgeous rich husband. He's rich, like, stupid rich. Research his family. Your jaw will drop that she had enough time between swimming through piles of money to write this self indulgent crap. Her project includes all the things you would expect: appreciate family more, be happy with the here and now, etc. These simple steps could be very enlightening if done by someone anyone but an upper east side yuppie could relate to. Side note: the author does reference several great books and quotes of OTHER people that would be much more interesting to check out, IMO.

    I got through the cleaning out closets chapter fine. It's when the author had to start interacting with other people that it went quickly downhill. One particular story had me gobsmacked. It was her mother in law's birthday party. The point of the exercise was that she was supposed to do "proofs of love." If you've read "The Five Languages of Love" she's talking about Acts of Service. So, she starts planning this shindig, whilst farming out tasks to everyone else so don't think this was a monumental accomplishment. The entire time she's describing all the emails she had to send for this great act of love, she's passive aggressively telling the reader about how *normally* she'd be so resentful about having to do all of this. Can you feel the love?

    Fast forward to the day of the party. Everything is going swimmingly. MIL looooves her party. She loves the food cooked by her son who is a private chef. Loved her presents. Love, love, love. So, the night went well? Love was proven, right? Not so fast. The author was feeling like her efforts weren't being recognized enough. Even though her MIL had a fantastic night no one stopped the party to golf clap her organizational skills. That is until her well trained husband, in the middle of gift opening, pulls out a gift for the author. AT.HER.MILs.BIRTHDAY.PARTY. Suddenly, all is well! The author stops pouting because finally it's back to being about her! Order is restored. How her MIL didn't side eye her and mouth "WTF" is a testament to how classy MIL is.

    So, all in all I just can't with this book. I'll take Eat, Pray, Love or a Year Living Biblically if I need my year doing stuff fix. But this one is getting tossed.

  • Melanie
    Nov 22, 2013

    This is not great literature. This is not earth-shattering or mind blowing in any way.

    Yet somehow, underneath the veneer of light-hearted entertainment, this sneaky little book is filled with profound truths.

    It is also filled with extremely interesting bits of psychology and sociology research that are sprinkled throughout its pages, mixed with her personal journey and constantly evolving considerations. A study in self-empowerment if I've ever seen one.

    A witty, self-examined life which bristle

    This is not great literature. This is not earth-shattering or mind blowing in any way.

    Yet somehow, underneath the veneer of light-hearted entertainment, this sneaky little book is filled with profound truths.

    It is also filled with extremely interesting bits of psychology and sociology research that are sprinkled throughout its pages, mixed with her personal journey and constantly evolving considerations. A study in self-empowerment if I've ever seen one.

    A witty, self-examined life which bristles with good ideas and a contagious desire for self-realization that actually ends up radiating a stubborn, beautiful light.

    Often funny and self-deprecating, Gretchen Rubin made me think about many areas in my life which could use a little boost of "intention", and mindfulness.

    And just for that, I'll willingly give her 5 stars.


Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.