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

( 495 )

Overview

Over one million copies sold.

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 adventures during the twelve months she spent ...

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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

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Overview

Over one million copies sold.

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 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. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

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  • The Happiness Project
    The Happiness Project  

Editorial Reviews

Daily Beast
“Practical and never preachy . . . the rare self-help tome that doesn’t feel shameful to read.”
Terry Hong
“An enlightening, laugh-aloud read. . . . Filled with open, honest glimpses into [Rubin’s] real life, woven together with constant doses of humor.”
Kim Crow
“For those who generally loathe the self-help genre, Rubin’s book is a breath of peppermint-scented air. Well-researched and sharply written. . . . Rubin takes an orderly, methodical approach to forging her own path to a happier state of mind.”
Amy Scribner
“Packed with fascinating facts about the science of happiness and rich examples of how she improves her life through changes small and big The Happiness Project made me happier by just reading it.”
Daily Beast
“Practical and never preachy . . . the rare self-help tome that doesn’t feel shameful to read.”
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could-and, arguably, should-be happier. Thus, her methodical (and bizarre) happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and "acting more energetic"). By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good, not perfect (in accordance with one of her "Secrets of Adulthood": "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good"), but Rubin's funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research (including all those other recent books on happiness) to qualify as self-help. Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. Rubin's project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal
For this chatty and intriguing little book, Rubin, a lawyer-turned-writer (Forty Ways To Look at Winston Churchill), undertook a yearlong quest for happiness. A "Resolution Chart" with specific activities for each month (e.g., "Ask for help") helped her define happiness and become happier with her very good life, as did interesting facts from her scholarly research (though there are no footnotes or formal bibliography). Peppering the text are quotes from a vast array of people who have considered happiness, including Aristotle, St. Thérèse, and Viktor Frankl. VERDICT This whole process might have come off as frivolously self-centered but for the excellent points Rubin highlights. Although the excerpts from her blog (www.happinessprojecttoolbox.com) begin to feel like filler, librarians will particularly like how she loves her local library, and self-helpers will be fascinated by her process.—Margaret Cardwell, Memphis, TN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061583261
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 315
  • Sales rank: 18,012
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the bestselling Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill. She was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor when she realized that she really wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two young daughters.

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Read an Excerpt

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

Harper Paperbacks

Copyright © 2011 Gretchen Rubin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061583261


Chapter One

Like 44 percent of Americans, I make
New Year's resolutions—and usually
don't keep them for long. How many times
had I resolved to exercise more, eat better, and
keep up with my e-mail in-box? This year,
though, I was making my resolutions in the
context of my happiness project, and I hoped
that would mean that I'd do a better job of
keeping them. To launch the new year and
my happiness project, I decided to focus on
boosting my energy. More vitality, I hoped,
would make it easier for me to stick to all
my happiness project resolutions in future
months.
■ Go to sleep earlier.
■ Exercise better.
■ Toss, restore, organize.
■ Tackle a nagging task.
■ Act more energetic.
In a virtuous circle, research shows, being happy energizes you, and at the same time,
having more energy makes it easier for you to engage in activities—
like socializing and exercise—that
boost happiness. Studies also show that when you feel energetic, your self
esteem rises. Feeling tired, on the other hand, makes everything seem
arduous. An activity that you'd ordinarily find fun, like putting up holiday
decorations, feels difficult, and a more demanding task, like learning a new
software program, feels overwhelming.
I know that when I feel energetic, I find it much easier to behave in
ways that make me happy. I take the time to e-mail the grandparents with
a report from the pediatrician's checkup. I don't scold when Eliza drops her
glass of milk on the rug just as we're leaving for school. I have the perseverance
to figure out why my computer screen is frozen. I take the time to put
my dishes in the dishwasher.
I decided to tackle both the physical and mental aspects of energy.
For my physical energy: I needed to make sure that I got enough
sleep and enough exercise. Although I'd already known that sleep and
exercise were important to good health, I'd been surprised to learn that
happiness— which can seem like a complex, lofty, and intangible goal—was
quite influenced by these straightforward habits. For my mental energy: I
needed to tackle my apartment and office, which felt oppressively messy
and crowded. Outer order, I hoped, would bring inner peace. What's more,
I needed to clear away metaphorical clutter; I wanted to cross tasks off my
to do list. I added one last resolution that combined the mental and the
physical. Studies show that by acting as if you feel more energetic, you can
become more energetic. I was skeptical, but it seemed worth a try.
GO TO SLEEP EARLIER.
First: bodily energy.
A glamorous friend with a tendency to make sweeping pronouncements
had told me that "Sleep is the new sex," and I'd recently been at a
dinner party where each person at the table detailed the best nap he or she
had ever had, in lascivious detail, while everyone moaned in appreciation.
Millions of people fail to get the recommended seven to eight hours of
sleep a night, and one study revealed that along with tight work deadlines,
a bad night's sleep was one of the top two factors that upset people's daily
moods. Another study suggested that getting one extra hour of sleep each
night would do more for a person's daily happiness than getting a $60,000
raise. Nevertheless, the average adult sleeps only 6.9 hours during the
week, and 7.9 on the weekend—20 percent less than in 1900. Although
people adjust to feeling sleepy, sleep deprivation impairs memory, weakens
the immune system, slows metabolism, and might, some studies suggest,
foster weight gain.
My new, not exactly startling resolution for getting more sleep was to
turn off the light. Too often I stayed up to read, answer e-mails, watch TV,
pay bills, or whatever, instead of going to bed.
Nevertheless, just a few days into the happiness project, although I
practically fell asleep on Eliza's purple sheets as I was tucking her in, I
wavered for a moment when Jamie proposed watching our latest Netflix
DVD, The Conversation. I love movies; I wanted to spend time with Jamie;
9:30 P.M. seemed a ridiculously early hour to go to bed; and I knew from
experience that if I started watching, I'd perk up. On the other hand, I felt
exhausted.
Why does it often seem more tiring to go to bed than to stay up?
Inertia, I suppose. Plus there's the pre-bed work of taking out my contact
lenses, brushing my teeth, and washing my face. But I'd made my resolution,
so resolutely I headed to bed. I slept eight solid hours and woke up
an hour early, at 5:30 A.M., so in addition to getting a good night's sleep,
I had the chance to do a peaceful block of work while my family was still
in bed.
I'm a real know-it-all, so I was pleased when my sister called and
complained of insomnia. Elizabeth is five years younger than I am, but usually
I'm the one asking her for advice.
"I'm not getting any sleep," she said. "I've already given up caffeine.
What else can I do?"
"Lots of things," I said, prepared to rattle off the tips that I'd
uncovered in my research. "Near your bedtime, don't do any work that
requires alert thinking. Keep your bedroom slightly chilly. Do a few pre-bed
stretches. Also—this is important—because light confuses the body's
circadian clock, keep the lights low around bedtime, say, if you go to the
bathroom. Also, make sure your room is very dark when the lights are out.
Like a hotel room."
"Do you really think it can make a difference?" she asked.
"All the studies say that it does."
I'd tried all these steps myself, and I'd found the last one—keeping
our bedroom dark—surprisingly difficult to accomplish.
"What are you doing?" Jamie had asked one night when he caught me
rearranging various devices throughout our room.
"I'm trying to block the light from all these gizmos," I answered. "I
read that even a tiny light from a digital alarm clock can disrupt a sleep
cycle, and it's like a mad scientist's lab in here. Our Blackberrys, the
computer, the cable box—everything blinks or glows bright green."
"Huh" was all he said, but he did help me move some things on the
nightstand to block the light coming from our alarm clock.
These changes did seem to make falling asleep easier. But I often lost
sleep for another reason: I'd wake up in the middle of the night—
curiously, usually at 3:18 A.M.—and be unable to go back to sleep. For those
nights, I developed another set of tricks. I breathed deeply and slowly until
I couldn't stand it anymore. When my mind was racing with a to do list,
I wrote everything down. There's evidence that too little blood flow to
the extremities can keep you awake, so if my feet were cold, I put on wool
socks—which, though it made me feel frumpish, did seem to help.
Two of my most useful getting to sleep strategies were my own invention.
First, I tried to get ready for bed well before bedtime. Sometimes
I stayed up late because I was too tired to take out my contacts—plus,
putting on my glasses had an effect like putting the cover on the parrot's
cage. Also, if I woke up in the night, I'd tell myself, "I have to get up in
two minutes." I'd imagine that I'd just hit the snooze alarm and in two
minutes, I'd have to march through my morning routine. Often this was
an exhausting enough prospect to make me fall asleep.
And sometimes I gave up and took an Ambien.
After a week or so of more sleep, I began to feel a real difference. I felt
more energetic and cheerful with my children in the morning. I didn't feel
a painful, never fulfilled urge to take a nap in the afternoon. Getting out
of bed in the morning was no longer torture; it's so much nicer to wake up
naturally instead of being jerked out of sleep by a buzzing alarm.
Nevertheless, despite all the benefits, I still struggled to put myself
to bed as soon as I felt sleepy. Those last few hours of the day were
precious—when the workday was finished, Jamie was home, my daughters
were asleep, and I had some free time. Only the daily reminder on my
Resolutions Chart kept me from staying up until midnight most nights.
EXERCISE BETTER.
There's a staggering amount of evidence to show that exercise is good for
you. Among other benefits, people who exercise are healthier, think more
clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. Regular exercise
boosts energy levels; although some people assume that working out is
tiring, in fact, it boosts energy, especially in sedentary people—of whom
there are many. A recent study showed that 25 percent of Americans don't
get any exercise at all. Just by exercising twenty minutes a day three days a
week for six weeks, persistently tired people boosted their energy.
Even knowing all these benefits, though, you can find it difficult to change
from a couch potato into a gym enthusiast. Many years ago, I'd managed to
turn myself into a regular exerciser, but it hadn't been easy. My idea of fun
has always been to lie in bed reading. Preferably while eating a snack.
When I was in high school, I wanted to redecorate my bedroom to
replace the stylized flowered wallpaper that I thought wasn't sufficiently
sophisticated for a freshman, and I wrote a long proposal laying out my
argument to my parents. My father considered the proposal and said, "All
right, we'll redecorate your room. But in return, you have to do something
four times a week for twenty minutes."
"What do I have to do?" I asked, suspicious.
"You have to take it or leave it. It's twenty minutes. How bad can
it be?"
"Okay, I'll take the deal," I decided. "What do I have to do?"
His answer: "Go for a run."
My father, himself a dedicated runner, never told me how far I had to
run or how fast; he didn't even keep track of whether I went for twenty
minutes. All he asked was that I put on my running shoes and shut the
door behind me. My father's deal got me to commit to a routine, and once
I started running, I found that I didn't mind exercising, I just didn't like
sports.
My father's approach might well have backfired. With extrinsic
motivation, people act to win external rewards or avoid external punishments;
with intrinsic motivation, people act for their own satisfaction. Studies
show that if you reward people for doing an activity, they often stop
doing it for fun; being paid turns it into "work." Parents, for example,
are warned not to reward children for reading—they're teaching kids to
read for a reward, not for pleasure. By giving me an extrinsic motivation,
my father risked sapping my inclination to exercise on my own. As
it happened, in my case, he provided an extrinsic motivation that
unleashed my intrinsic motivation.
Ever since that room redecoration, I've been exercising regularly. I never
push myself hard, but I get myself out the door several times a week. For
a long time, however, I'd been thinking that I really should start strength
training. Lifting weights increases muscle mass, strengthens bones, firms
the core, and—I admit, most important to me—improves shape. People
who work out with weights maintain more muscle and gain less fat as they
age. A few times over the years, I'd halfheartedly tried lifting weights, but
I'd never stuck to it; now, with my resolution to "Exercise better," it was
time to start.
There's a Buddhist saying that I've found to be uncannily true: "When
the student is ready, the teacher appears." Just a few days after I committed
to my resolution to "exercise better," I met a friend for coffee, and she
mentioned that she'd started a great weight training program at a gym in
my neighborhood.
"I don't like the idea of working out with a trainer," I objected. "I'd feel
self conscious, and it's expensive. I want to do it on my own."
"Try it," my friend urged. "I promise, you'll love it. It's a super efficient
way to exercise. The whole workout takes only twenty minutes. Plus"—she
paused dramatically—"you don't sweat. You work out without having to
shower afterward."
This was a major selling point. I dislike taking showers. "But," I asked
doubtfully, "how can a good workout take only twenty minutes if you're
not even sweating?"
"You lift weights at the very outer limit of your strength. You don't do
many repetitions, and you do only one set. Believe me, it works. I love it."
In Daniel Gilbert's book 'Stumbling on Happiness", he argues that the
most effective way to judge whether a particular course of action will make
you happy in the future is to ask people who are following that course of
action right now if they're happy and assume that you'll feel the same way.
According to his theory, the fact that my friend raved about this fitness
routine was a pretty good indicator that I'd be enthusiastic, too. Also, I
reminded myself, one of my Secrets of Adulthood was "Most decisions don't
require extensive research."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin Copyright © 2011 by Gretchen Rubin. Excerpted by permission of Harper Paperbacks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 495 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(171)

4 Star

(107)

3 Star

(99)

2 Star

(65)

1 Star

(53)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 496 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2010

    Perfect book for the new year!

    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

    30 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    Wonderfully Uplifting!

    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.

    28 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2010

    The Happiness Project makes it look too hard to be happy!

    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.

    22 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2009

    Not worth your money

    This book is a Pollyanna interlude in the life of someone who thinks happiness is being cutesy and making your bed. She has no idea what she is talking about and needs to live in the real world. It is not worth your hard-earned money.

    21 out of 67 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 21, 2009

    What's not to be happy about?

    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.

    15 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Somewhat thought provoking but not really original

    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!

    13 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read

    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.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Unrelatable

    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.

    11 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    was not a reader of the blog but i really loved this book!

    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.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Simple Isn't Necessarily Easy: Happiness is a Choice.

    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.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    Boring

    If you are self centered, young and stupid then this book is for you. The author is in a world of her own and, I think and hope, figures out life is not about "her, her, her." I only read this because it was a book club pick. No one in our group of 10 liked it and everyone found it boring.

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2012

    Incredibly boring!

    Extremely boring and overly technical, this book is overloaded with statistical data. I give up trying to stay awake!

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2011

    One Of Last Year's Best!

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2010

    self promoting

    slate writer, shameless self promoting

    4 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2012

    I am struggling to find interest in reading this book. It moves

    I am struggling to find interest in reading this book. It moves slowly. I haven't find any useful information in the chapter's I've read, and am thinking it is time to give up.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Just okay.

    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!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Not really anything here

    I really wanted to like this book but it just didn't grab me.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    Great, Insightful Read

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    Good for someone trying to improve or change their life.

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    STUFF YOU ALREADY KNOW

    Now I remember why I long ago quit reading self-help books.
    LLL

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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