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

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

3.6 499
by Gretchen Rubin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

ISBN-10: 006158326X

ISBN-13: 2900061583260

Pub. Date: 03/01/2011

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

“This book made me happy in the first five pages.” —AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill <

Overview

“This book made me happy in the first five pages.” —AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is “a cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.” (Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) In the vein of Julie and Julia, The Happiness Project describes one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900061583260
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Edition description:
NE
Pages:
315

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader xvii

Getting Started 1

1 January: Boost Energy 17

Vitality

2 February: Remember Love 38

Marriage

3 March: Aim Higher 69

Work

4 April: Lighten Up 90

Parenthood

5 May: Be Serious About Play 112

Leisure

6 June: Make Time for Friends 141

Friendship

7 July: Buy Some Happiness 165

Money

8 August: Contemplate the Heavens 194

Eternity

9 September: Pursue a Passion 221

Books

10 October: Pay Attention 235

Mindfulness

11 November: Keep a Contented Heart 258

Attitude

12 December: Boot Camp Perfect 277

Happiness

Afterword 291

Acknowledgments 293

Your Happiness Project 295

Reading Group Guide 309

Suggestions for Further Readings 311

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Happiness Project 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 499 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love a great self-help book. There are a plethora of these titles in any bookstore, and unfortunately, many of them are just too abstract for the everyday person. What makes "The Happiness Project" so wonderful is that anyone can relate. Who doesn't want to be happy? One year, Gretchen Rubin decides to forego the specific New Year's resolutions that so many of us break by January 3rd. Eat right, exercise more, watch less TV, blah, blah, blah. Instead, she decides that she wants to become happier. To accomplish this, she decides on 12 specific areas where she would like to become happier in her life, and then sets mini-goals for herself each month. For example, the area to be happier in May is "Leisure". Rubin's goals in May are find more fun, take time to be silly, go off the path, and start a collection. I found myself laughing, nodding my head with understanding, and "Ah-hah-ing" at almost every page. I found the month about contemplating the heavens to be most profound. To be happier, read memoirs of catastrophe?? Yes, if you want to be happy with and appreciate what you have, read the diaries of people who have just been diagnosed with cancer or survived a plane crash. Maybe the little things in life (Why isn't he going the speed limit?) won't bother you as much. Journal writing is way too overwhelming for me to do each day. Rubin suggests a one-sentence journal, where you write one thing that happened that day that you never want to forget. It's the little things like these that make this book joyous to read and makes you think about starting your own happiness project. Don't worry, be _____. MY RATING - 5/5 To see my rating scale and other book reviews, please check out my blog: www.1776books.blogspot.com.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book to start the new year with, especially after a year like 2009, and no surprise that it's been chosen by Oprah's book club. Rubin's project can easily become your own as it's filled with practical tips, without being preachy, that anyone could do. This is much more than self-help; it's a compulsively readable narrative, thanks to Gretchen's funny and insightful anecdotes (which also examine her shortcomings and failures alongside the happier successes) and thoughtful research ranging from Aristotle and Tolstoy to Ben Franklin and Samuel Johnson. I highly recommend checking out the happiness toolbox on Rubin's blog at happinessprojecttoolbox.com
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a book club I recently joined. It was really hard to get into because I felt like the author made it seem way too hard to be happy. The amount of research she did (and mentioned constantly) made me feel like I was reading a textbook at times. Near the middle of book, I began to like the author for being candid and honest. I realized that her happiness project worked for her and I saw how others could be inspired by her. Personally, I wrote down 3 things I wanted to do in the next year to make myself happier-organize my house, be nicer to my husband, and enjoy the time I do get to myself. So overall, I got her message. I did not love the book, but I can see why others who need a little inspiration would.
Erosthiest More than 1 year ago
Why do we only think about our own happiness when we are in the face of some traumatic event or some overwhelming depression? Regardless of how happy you might be, there is always the possibility of finding more happiness and this book is about one woman's attempt at finding simple ways of creating more. Without making major changes, like moving or changing jobs, she instead makes simple resolutions, such as singing in the morning and walking more. This is a book which is almost guaranteed to bring more joy and appreciation into your life.
Knit88 More than 1 year ago
While it might be easy to dismiss Gretchen as someone who already has it all, "what's she got to be unhappy about?" I've learned from her that happiness isn't in what you have or don't have, it's all in the approach. During a miserable 12 months where a number of stressful, bad things happened to me and my family, advice and information from The Happiness Project blog lifted me up. I actually feel happier now than I did before my misfortunes began. I am NOT a fan of self-help programs, never done one, but The Happiness Project has seeped its way into my attitude and my behaviors everyday. I can't wait to read this book and I know a number of people I'm going to share it with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this up in my local bookstore and was really delighted by something on almost every page. it's filled with helpful information, great stories of someone who made a commitment to happiness in their life and chronicles how they kept it. if you have really serious issues, then achieving happiness might require more than singing in the morning and cleaning closets but even so this will put you in the right mindset to tackle whatever those larger problems are. i'm not a fan of self help generally and picked this up because i loved the cover but i was hugely impressive with the lightness of touch and the quality of her research. i highly recommend.
Vytaulla More than 1 year ago
The fundamental premise of this book is your basic: "you can't choose what happens, you can only choose how you react." Happiness is a choice. A simple but very profound principle and one that is much easier to "believe" than it is to "employ". Rubin lists a series of philosophers and other thinkers and researchers who have studied "happiness" from a variety of perspectives and historical periods, and she references some of their discoveries/conclusions, but her researches are background, not foreground. Instead of attempting some kind of summary or new perspective on existing "knowledge" she undertakes something equally if not more interesting, which is to systematically apply what she has learned and evaluate results in real life, her life. The fact that she uses her own life as the test case seems to infuriate some people. I think they're missing a couple of points. First, happiness is clearly relative and contextual. To engage in "my unhappiness is legitimate but yours isn't" is a kind of chauvinism. It also illustrates the sort of mindset that Rubin has the courage to actually explore and face, rather than rationalize and hide from. Second, ourselves is all we have to work with - while we can influence others, in the end, they have the power to do, be, feel whatever they choose. The only person we have the power to change is our self. So Rubin evaluates her life and hones in on attitudes, beliefs and behaviors OF HER OWN that contribute to a lack of happiness in her life. She realizes that when her mood is bad it affects her husband and children as well as herself. She realizes that simply exercising restraint, thoughtfulness, patience, etc. makes her happier AND makes her loved ones happier. On the surface most of her realizations seem obvious enough, but that's like saying you can lose weight by exercising more and eating less. Simple, but very hard to put into practice. Rubin makes the point that "happiness" is subjective and that each of us needs to decide what it means to us. Having done that, her message is that we can engage in concrete activities and behaviors that will increase the happiness in our lives. She moves happiness from the passive state to the active - we can go after it rather than sitting around waiting for it to hopefully arrive. The unstated corollary to "taking responsibility for your own happiness" is that unhappiness is your responsibility as well. This is the other sore spot that many people are sensitive to. If happiness is a choice, then so is unhappiness. If unhappiness is a choice, well, what are the implications of that? That's where the hard work really starts. How people feel about their lives is typically the result of a network of surface and unexplored beliefs, developed and inherited (ie. again, unexplored) attitudes, experiences, etc. The notion that you can actually take a close look at what makes up your worldview and, perhaps, change it for the better, is alien to most, and resisted by many. This book serves as a starting point for the explorers who are willing to step up and take a stab at living purposefully and with their eyes open to their own contribution to their experience of life. Meanwhile, those who respond with hostility should really ask themselves what beliefs are being threatened. It would be illuminating and might just start them down an interesting path.
JL88 More than 1 year ago
I find it very hard to relate to Rubin when she tells the reader right in the beginning she's already happy and that she and her family live in New York's Upper East Side.
ds1017 More than 1 year ago
Having recently read Eat, pray, Love, I was primed for another book about improving one's life. Having become used to Elizabeth Gilbert's often playful, self-deprecating tongue-in-cheek style, I found the terse and to-the-point tone of this narrative hard to get into at first. But I was quickly won over by Rubin's brilliance and the sheer simplicity of the project. There is no trekking through Indonesia or any other grandiose schemes that are likely not possible for a lot of us given our obligations with work and family. Nor is there any specific catastrophe like illness or divorce to prompt her: she resolves one day to try to be happier person, realizing that life is passing by quickly, and that her appreciation for it is not always where it should be. She chooses a mini project per month to focus on- small and practical little things we can all do to improve our attitude, change destructive behaviors, etc. Each month's topic is subdivided into different aspects of the monthly topic. Laugh more, be grateful, "spend out" (my favorite) are some of the mini-resolutions. The impressively detailed analysis of how to go about achieving them, why each approach worked or didn't work and what to do about it keep this book from becoming preachy and alienating. What makes this book a must-read is how thoroughly Rubin examines her own flaws and neuroses that sometimes contribute to her dissatisfaction; tendencies that many of us ambitious, work-stressed, perfectionist souls can relate to. She also draws on a vast array of ideas from great philosophers in each analysis to support her observations. Rubin keeps her progress and failures charted, siting increased accountability, and blogs about her project. Further, she discloses excerpts from bloggers commenting on the monthly topic at hand, and then reflects on patterns that clearly demonstrate what tendencies are inherent in modern American culture. Again, no grandiosity here- no chanting Buddhist prayers in a Indian shrine while fasting. If this book does not inspire you to start changing your life, you will at the very least feel comforted by the kindred spirit in Rubin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful. I brought several copies for Christmas gifts. I also want to thank whoever recommended "When God Stopped Keeping Score." That book has changed my life for the better. I suggest you buy a copy of that too. It is a welcomed companion to the Happiness Project.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Rubin's account of how her Happiness Project is interesting but I found most of it not really original. She tends to reiterate everything she has read on the subject and how she attempts to try these methods to her own life which already seems pretty happy. Has she ever really experienced any difficulties in her life? Any tragedies? This is not to say one has to - to understand happiness but it gives some perspective to it. Whereas to understand tragedy - she had to read about it. From what she describes she has a rather "perfect" life so it is hard to take her to seriously. If she didn't feel "happy" with her life then I think she perhaps needs to look more at her psyche. She seems to have no real struggles like most of us - money issues, family issues, work issues etc. Ms. Rubin is obviously an extremely intelligent person with a wonderful family, a great job, great education, wonderful parents and in-laws - I think Ms. Rubin is probably inspiring many of her readers - so I guess that is a good thing!
Ariesgrl More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars Gretchen Rubin realizes that she is focuses more on the busy daily tasks, but not the important things in life. She decides to sit down and plan a new way of life for the following year. Her path to happiness begins on January 1st and focuses on different aspects each month. This book chronicles her journey throughout the entire year. I recommend reading this book in small doses. Pick a topic that you want to learn about and read just that chapter. I tried to read it straight through, but it became tiresome and defeated the main purpose. The author leads a decent life beforehand, and is happy, but this journey focuses on how everyone can be happier, more appreciative and less stressed. Notes: This book was read as part of the #ForgottenBookChallenge. This review was originally posted on the Ariesgrl Book Reviews website.
TheBookFairy More than 1 year ago
I have a love/hate affair with this book. At times I enjoyed it, at times I skipped pages. Honestly, I enjoyed the comments by random people that were pulled from her blog better than the book itself!
hapetara More than 1 year ago
This book was so inspiring. I feel like Gretchen was writing to me specifically, she writes like she's talking to a girlfriend. Even though I wasn't interested in trying everything she was willing to do, I was fascinated how it played out for her. I think everyone can read this and take something positive to incorporate in their everyday. I truly believe making positive choices in everyday life can transform you and the people around you. I feel like she did all the research I've been wanting to do about being happy. She also has a great website in conjunction with book
llamajeff More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book but it just didn't grab me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this for my book club; it wasn't great for conversation, however everyone enjoyed reading it and thinking about how to apply some of her principles to their life. I was especially interested in the book for my daughter who has been going through a difficult time. Would recommend to someone who needs help in finding new direction.
sugarjo More than 1 year ago
I read "Eat Love Pray" and hated it because I found the author to be nauseatingly self indulgent...I got to skipping through the book and threw it out thinking, "Who CARES?!" So, when this book came out, I was a little unsure about buying it, wondering if it would be written in a similar fashion. Initially, I only downloaded a sample...and then I fell in love with it. I have been reading "The Happiness Project" slowly, really taking my time and I am enjoying it immensely. Instead of coming off as being completely self indulgent like the other book, Ms. Rubin is the real deal. She shares so much of herself and her life with the reader and is genuine in her desire to understand herself better and reach her goals; she is able to pick herself apart and be honest about her shortcomings and where she needs to focus in order to reach her goals. Ms. Rubin's story about her research has inspired me to focus more on living in the moment and being happy - making a choice to be happy. I've also visited her website, www.happiness-project.com and have read through her blog and other posters. The response has been amazing. Worth buying and keeping.
lizs914 More than 1 year ago
Like Gretchen I have a great husband great chidren and incredible grandchildren. I live in a nice house, I have enough money, I have an incredible extended family, BUT I'm not Happy. My husband claims all he wants is for me to be Happy. I just finished the book, and had many AH HA moments. My Happiness Project is different from the author's. I started it before I read the book, after reading about the book in a magazine. I recognize myself in almost everey chapter. I am resolved to continue my Happiness Project, and to make changes in my life that will enable me to say "I'm Happy"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a rarity. It was able to inspire and inform in the best way possible. One page I would be crying and the next laughing harder than I had laughed all day, but the best part was that this book got me thinking. It made me look at my own life and take notice of the little ways that I prevent my own happiness, and showed simple and pain-free ways to make little changes that result in greater happiness. This book didn't push anyone to do exactly as the author did, and never was too preachy. After reading this I am inspired to look at what I want in life and take the chance to be my happiness. Hopefully I can complete my own variation of this incredible journey. This was truly a great read and I recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Down-to-earth and insightful. I kept thinking, &quot;Why haven't I ever thought of things that way before?&quot; and now I'm glad that I do. Based on other reviews, I think you'll like this book if you're in a place in your life where you want to. I don't have much in common with the author (not married, no kids etc.) but was able to really relate to the simple truths in this book because I was looking for them. It seems like many who read it as a book club disliked it because they weren't personally looking for what the book has to offer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book. It is full of ideas and quotes. I also ordered several more of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our Book Club reviewed this book last night. It was generally well received. I was especially thankful the author made the differentiation between depression and being unhappy. I suffer from bipolar disease and taking medication allows me to be "happy" and "unhappy".....If I am depressed, none of these ideas to be HAPPY mean much. I am one of the lucky ones....that can feel happy. Medications work for me. It was good to be reminded to find joy in the small parts of our lives. I do!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now I remember why I long ago quit reading self-help books. LLL
Zybia More than 1 year ago
It's all about working towards happiness. It presents an inspiring example of how one woman changed took steps to fill her life with happiness. It's simple, straight-forward, and inspiring. It empowers the individual to define their own happiness and pursue it in their own way, while also suggesting a structure. It's great as a reference tool, but also simple an uplifting read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love this book for one or a million reasons, mostly because if you are having an urge to read about one purticular aspect, Gretchen covers it all. Also, I understand where the negative reveiws are coming from, but just a reminder, that is your opinion. Other people have different opinions, so it's nice to include that that is your opinion, good creative wording in your insults though. Great book. (In my opinion. ;))