Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Happiness Project review

Jacket description:
"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 wisdoms 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; instaed 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 h appiness, 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."

My book club read this for the past month's selection and we were all pretty much in agreement with it. We all really enjoyed the first half and weren't so keen on the last half.

Gretchen Rubin has such a great idea in wanting to make herself happier by doing simple things with what she has. I really loved her organization chapter, wanting to simplify her life to ultimately increase her happiness and the tips that were throughout. Her chapter on marriage was profound and eye-opening and her "Pursue a Passion" chapter really hit home (she loves kid's books and formed a KidLit book club). Unfortunately, after those, I kinda felt like she went downhill.

The writing and the subject matter began to get repetitive and her somewhat self-righteous. She started being a little preachy with everything she had learned, rather than just informative and explanatory and I found myself skimming. Overall though, I found quite a few tips and tricks that I can apply to my own life, hopefully increasing my own happiness level.

I'm no longer going to apologize for the hobbies I have and I'm going to do what I enjoy, rather than what I think I SHOULD enjoy (like running, crocheting, or baking). I'm going to continue only reading 50 pages of a book before giving up if I'm not liking it and I'm going to quit nagging my husband about eating breakfast. He's a grown man...if he doesn't want to eat breakfast, he shouldn't have to. I'm also going to have an empty shelf in a closet (well that's one I'm working on).

Overall rating: 3 out of 5
Definitely a discussion book, making it a good choice for a book club, but also a good individual read. Everyone can take something away from this book, I just felt the 2nd half was almost unnecessary.

The Happiness Project
Gretchen Rubin
320 pages
Adult Non-Fiction
December 2009
My own copy

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon. I am an Associate and will receive a small percentage of the purchase price. Thanks!


Caroline Starr Rose said...

This sounds interesting. Thanks, Amanda!

Myne Whitman said...

I have heard a lot about this book. May check it out now.