Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Happiness Project: A Book Review

I started this book back in January and began reading a chapter a month.  I thought this would be a fun way to explore the Happiness Project, just like Gretchen Rubin's did.  Each month, she focused on a new topic to improve her happiness goals.  I thought this would be perfect to post since the New Year is just starting!

Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspirational
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Pages: 292
Out in Paperback?: Yes; March 1, 2011
My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

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.


This section doesn't make much sense with this novel, but I did enjoy getting to know Gretchen and her family over the course of the novel.  Gretchen was a great narrator, and she did a great job explaining her research regarding the topic of happiness, which could be difficult as it is hard to measure one's happiness.  It was interesting though to see how she measured her happiness, especially in correlation with her husband's and her children's happiness.  With these little changes that Gretchen implemented throughout the year, she worked to better herself and her family.


The book takes a new topic, such as friendship, marriage, or work, and dives into some daily changes that one can make to improve one's happiness.  Each chapter gives 4-5 suggestions within a topic on ways to improve one's overall attitude.  Gretchen works through these different goals, reporting her results at the end of the chapter, such as what worked, what didn't work, and how she felt doing these new activities.  It was nice to see how you could customize this happiness project to your own life; for example, Gretchen would list her suggestions and what she would do that month to work towards her goals, but you could easily adjust to what you like and what you want to work on!

Writing Style:

Like I mentioned earlier, I thought Gretchen did a great job explaining her research on happiness.  I also really enjoyed how each month/chapter was laid out.  Gretchen would list her goals and how she worked toward them each month.  Then, she would place excerpts from her blog about her readers' experience with the same happiness project topic.  I thought it was a great mix of information, and other readers are able to see different goals and results from multiple happiness projects.

Have you read this book? Do you plan to start it in the New Year?

FTC Disclaimer:
All items mentioned were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  No affiliate links were used.

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