December 30, 2011
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
After studying the scientific and historic wisdom on happiness, she went about constructing her own equation for joy. She de-cluttered her closets, restrained from nagging, started a blog, spent more time with her children, and pursued her passion for books without feeling any guilt. By the end of the year, Rubin felt significantly happier, and wanted to share her findings with others.
Though this book might seem the the standard, run-of-the-mill self-helf pitch, it's not at all. The Happiness Project is Gretchen Rubin's record of her own paths toward joy and contentment. She states clearly that what worked for her may not work for you, the reader. For instance, she charts her daily happiness progress with an ever-expanding checklist. She insists that these charts kept her focused, but I think I'd find it a little overwhelming.
Some of the most interesting sections of The Happiness Project were those in which Rubin inserted responses from her blog to various happiness-related questions. These honest responses from her readers were alternately funny, touching, and enlightening, and made Rubin's individual project seem much more universal.
I'm not sure how much I got out of The Happiness Project, advice-wise. I'm generally a pretty cheerful person, so I approached this book as a fun read, not a solution to a problem. I did learn some great tidbits about happiness, including the incredible importance of getting a good night's rest. As Rubin points out, one "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" (19). [Rubin doesn't say where this study comes from. Perhaps the editor worried that footnotes would have ruined the layout of the book, but I would have appreciated them.]
The Happiness Project is an engaging book, and it acted as a great prompt for me to think about my own life and the things I wish were a little bit different. This is an excellent book for this time of year, as it will definitely serve as New Year resolution inspiration.
The Happiness Project © Gretchen Rubin and HarperCollins, 2009.