The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
During one rainy afternoon, New York mother, Gretchen Rubin was struck with a realization that she wasn’t living her life to its best potential. So, she decided to dedicate an entire year of her life to becoming happier. The year is broken down into twelve months and each month covers a certain area that Gretchen wants to improve in her life: vitality, marriage, work, parenthood, leisure, friendship, money, eternity, books, mindfulness, attitude, and happiness.
I first read a review of this book on Pop Culture Junkie and the concept stayed with me for quite a while. A woman, who isn’t necessarily unhappy with her life, is seeking ways to make minor improvements that end up causing a ripple effect through her relationships and habits.
She dedicated each month to a different portion of her life to improve. January – Boost Energy. February – Remember Love. March – Aim Higher. April – Lighten Up. May – Be Serious About Play. June – Make Time for Friends. July – Buy Some Happiness. August – Contemplate Heaven. September – Pursue a Passion. October – Pay Attention. November – Keep a Contented Heart. December – Book Camp Perfect.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I think that Gretchen Rubin is a fantastic author, with a fantastic sense of humor and great insight. However, I also felt that this book was somewhat superficial. Although she discussed some really interesting statistics and concepts about happiness, I felt that the focus got lost towards the end and just turned into a tale of a happy person trying to become happier.
Rubin did identify this glitch with her project a number of times in her book. She’s a stay at home mom, a full time writer, living in a wealthy part of New York with a wonderful and bright family. Not much to improve, and not much for me to relate with either.
I think she had a great passion for this book, and finding happiness is a struggle we all face in our own way. Her book highlighted some interesting thoughts such as identifying what makes us happy versus what we want to make us happy. Two very different things. The path to happiness is an experience that is different for each person.
It seems like the most important lessons she learned are the cliches that you see written in boxes of tea and and T-shirts. Lessons like “Be true to yourself, your interests and your hobbies.” I didn’t feel as if I learned anything new after having finished this book. I didn’t feel that the author took any great strides out of her comfort zones to find happiness either. She held back her criticisms and learned to play along with her kids rather than constantly discipline and instruct.
I felt that this book lasted too long with too few new ideas, but it did inspire me to examine my own ideas of what happiness is, and question my decisions and actions in regular situations in my life.The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin HarperCollins, 2009 ISBN 0061583251 296 pages