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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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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

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  86,089 Ratings  ·  9,152 Reviews
What if you could change your life without really changing your life? On the outside, Gretchen Rubin had it all -- a good marriage, healthy children and a successful career -- but she knew something was missing. Determined to end that nagging feeling, she set out on a year-long quest to learn how to better enjoy the life she already had.

Each month, Gretchen pursued a diffe
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Harper
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Kcire First, I think the message is good...that we should try to find how we can all be happy or happier. However, as I was reading this book, it occurred…moreFirst, I think the message is good...that we should try to find how we can all be happy or happier. However, as I was reading this book, it occurred to me that her suggestions only applied to the middle class or higher income people. The author neglects to mention the millions of people starving to death, homeless, and lacking in options. It seems like the author just basically slaps you in the face with her perfect life and then goes on to complain about it, pondering how her perfect life, in comparison to the millions out in the world deprived, could be even more perfect. I think even a paragraph on the unfortunate people of the world would have given this book more strength, in that it would have recognized another side of life rather than the rich affluent background she obviously comes from. And I know she mentions this in the book, about how other people's happiness will differ, but I feel that this author needs to get out of her bubble, and maybe volunteer some time in third world countries and see children dying of sickness that the affluent considers non-threatening, in order to understand happiness. Or maybe even in an orphanage to see the children who have lost their parents at such a young age, who cry and have no one to comfort them. If she's just being her, then I don't want to be her. (less)
Wiktoria Wysocka Didn't like it personally, I was bored really fast. Although it has a nice, fluid, light style of writing, there was something missing...
3/6 stars
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. JacobsThe Happiness Project by Gretchen RubinAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertJulie and Julia by Julie Powell
A Year in the Life
2nd out of 144 books — 263 voters
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIVThe Happiness Project by Gretchen RubinThe Happiness Animal by Will JelbertThe Power of Now by Eckhart TolleStumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd Gilbert
Best Happiness Books
2nd out of 176 books — 289 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 04, 2013 Laura rated it did not like it
Shelves: self-help
I don’t know which is stranger – that people like this book, or that it was written in the first place. It came into being because Gretchen Rubin, a woman with a bizarrely charmed life, decided to spend a year devoting each month to a “theme” designed to make herself happier and then write a book about it. The whole thing smacks not only of a calculated stunt, but also of the sort of “list” approach she used for her breathtakingly trite book on Churchill. Regardless, any reasonable person would ...more
Michele Chapman
Dec 04, 2013 Michele Chapman rated it did not like it
I couldn't finish it. In fact, I couldn't get past page 49, and that really hurt, because I BOUGHT this book in HARDBACK. Sigh. And I wanted to like it, I swear, but it just wasn't happening for me.

I picked this book up because I have an interest in how others achieve happiness, enjoy getting a glimpse into how others conduct their lives on a daily basis (I even find grocery selections interesting, and what goes into them), and have gotten a kick out of several stunt journalism projects. Rubin's
Books Ring Mah Bell
Sep 02, 2010 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it it was ok
Shelves: memo-auto-bio
Author Gretchen Rubin dives into the stunt genre (where the author does something for a year and then writes a clever book about it) with a project on living happy for a year. Sitting on the bus one day, she realizes her life is zipping along and wonders if she can't make her days happier, and write a book about it and make some money. She devises a plan for happiness, reading all sorts of books on happiness, from a wide variety of authors.

I would have liked to have been more enthusiastic about
May 20, 2011 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is looking to make personal change
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction
Wow, when did I become so cynical and not even realize it?

Just like Julia from Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen I too am in danger of becoming nothing but a secretary on a road to nowhere, drifting toward frosted hair and menthol addiction.

However, this book helped me get out of my funk and become more creative. I didn't want to review this book until I tried my own "happiness project" because to be honest I was very sceptical about the results.

So, my personal j
Jun 05, 2010 Alea rated it it was amazing
I have no idea how to properly convey how I feel about this book. I felt so much for it and because of it and it's kind of crazy. I saw so much of myself in the author and some of the examples she explained, half the time I was sitting there dumbstruck. She breaks down her resolutions in such a way it's very easy to follow along and she is so specific in how they work out you really can't ask for much more.

Rubin writes in a way that it was very easy for me to relate to and understand. It's a rea
Dec 04, 2013 Lori rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found it the epitomy of self absorbtion. I've read many happiness books, often looking to use excerpts in my hospice speaches and volunteer training, but I felt this was so dumbed down. If you don't mind the constant references to her clerking for Supreme Court Justice O'Connor and her monied life and the mundane attempts at her "happiness project" you might be ok. Anyone who ever had any religious, marital of psych type of background, ie "Golden Rule", would be able to do this and probably al ...more
Apr 15, 2010 sleeps9hours rated it it was ok
This was an inspiring book in some ways, but also annoying. The author admits that she is part of a new trend in books in which the author takes a year for self improvement. I liked that she seems fairly normal and doesn’t escape her regular routine to make some changes. Over time the book dragged though. I was quite impressed with the plethora of quotes throughout (she collects them), and tons of little ideas and research results I found interesting. I had to get past the fact that her personal ...more
Dec 10, 2013 Melanie rated it it was amazing
This is not great literature. This is not earth-shattering or mind blowing in any way.
Yet somehow, underneath the veneer of light-hearted entertainment, this sneaky little book is filled with profound truths.
It is also filled with extremely interesting bits of psychology and sociology research that are sprinkled throughout its pages, mixed with her personal journey and constantly evolving considerations. A study in self-empowerment if I've ever seen one.
A witty, self-examined life which bristle
Oh, how I loved this book. I have read quite a few year-long project memoirs, but this is one of the most meaningful to me.

Gretchen Rubin decided she wanted to be happier in her life, and, being an organized and thoughtful person, she devised a plan. Each month she would focus on one area of her life to improve, and by the end of the year, she should be measurably happier. The first month she focused on her energy levels, then her relationships, later she concentrated on being more successful in
May 20, 2013 Katie rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Let me preface this review by saying, I really tried to like this book. I found it at Sam's Club for $7 when I was on my monthly TP run. The cover looked fun. The concept up lifting. I went into reading it with high hopes. I didn't look at any previous review (I should have). So, here goes... This book should be re-titled "The Year I Spent Trying To Be Less of an Entitled B*tch (And Failed!)".

The author is a rich white lady living in the upper east side of manhattan with her two healthy little
Jenna Copeland
Jan 10, 2013 Jenna Copeland rated it really liked it
Wow... what interesting irony that a book on happiness has so many haters. I'm not one of them-- while I don't think the book will change the mostly-good-already trajectory of my life, there were some nice insights and a swift kick in the rump to remember to enjoy life more and nag less. Absolutely worth my investment of time. Do be warned, though, that Gretchen Rubin is a classic Type A overachiever and this book is organized and written accordingly. Being a gold star addict myself, I've gladly ...more
Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
I won this advance copy book through the Goodreads Giveaway and could not have been more stoked! I am always creating lists and goals and things to improve my life. I feel like books, songs, movies always have a way of finding me when I need them most. I just quit my job because I was way too miserable and I have been home for the past few weeks feeling extremely unhappy and like my life was just miserable. This book was just the inspiration to want to change my situation and bring about more ha ...more
Dec 29, 2011 Tasha rated it did not like it
All the navel-gazing of "Eat, Pray, Love" with none of the interesting commentary provided by other characters. Gretchen is the only actual being in her world; everyone else, including her husband and children, is merely a mirror reflecting who she thinks she should appear to be. I'm convinced that the author wants to be happy only because someone else told her she should.

I'm all for fluff reading, but this took it to a new level. The chapter on cleaning her closets (yes, an entire chapter abou
Aug 03, 2010 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: how-to, memoir
Inspiring! Loved it! Totally want to start my Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin, happily married mother of 2, had a realization while sitting on a bus that she was letting her life pass her by without fully appreciating it. Being a writer, she decided to research the origins, psychology and elements of happiness and develop her own Happiness Project, a 12-month experiment (each month around a theme like "love", "work" "energy", etc) with carefully measured goals and resolutions to see if she cou ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Gaijinmama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, self-help
This book got mixed reviews, but I liked it.
It was realistic, very readable, and not exploitative of developing cultures like some of these other "Go find yourself " stunt books (cough cough Eat,Pray cough cough). Rubin is up-front about the fact that she comes from a white, upper-middle class, happily-married, securely employed New York lifestyle that makes it seem a bit narcissistic for her to go out searching for yet more happiness when she has so many advantages compared to so many other peo
Aug 08, 2012 MC rated it it was ok
At the start, I was very enthusiastic to read this book but by the time I got halfway through, I was still waiting for the "Eureka!" moment where it all seemed worthwhile. It was mostly skippable and some parts were just frustrating (starting a collection for the sake of starting a collection? Plugging in birthdays of friends? A bit hollow...).

I suppose I was expecting a more memoir approach and it seemed more self-help manual than anything else. Dull.
Jan 25, 2010 Gina rated it it was ok
Natasha's review of this book is perfect. I think Natasha should re-write The Happiness Project and then it will truly be a project about happiness.

Natasha wrote ..... "A short while ago I started a blog post by saying that I was depressed about the book The Happiness Project. I felt that I knew what the book was about and that I could have written it but now that it was written by someone else, my idea for a self-help book was taken. I said I was "depressed"
Apr 20, 2016 Joca rated it it was ok
Pensei que seria algo bem diferente confesso. A autora irritou-me, coisa que não sei se aconteceria tão facilmente se não estivesse a ouvir o audiobook mas também não gostei da forma como ela refere imensos estudos e estatísticas... A ideia geral agrada-me e até me senti motivada mas depressa me cansei porque esperava algo mais direto, mais divertido. Nem sequer consegui terminar.
Lisa Lewis
Jan 22, 2011 Lisa Lewis rated it liked it
When I started reading this book, I was really underwhelmed. I thought, "why am I interested in a New York yuppie's pursuit of happiness?" but I kept with it because it was so highly recommended by Jessica. I ended up appreciating Rubin and her happiness quest as I went along. One reason is that Rubin seems endearingly honest - ready to admit her flaws and quirks and even embrace them. She is a former lawyer and current writer who adores research, reading and note-taking, and decided to apply th ...more
Oct 12, 2012 Jeana rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Susannah
I loved some of Rubin's ideas--I was exhilarated during the beginning chapters and it was great because I started reading this book while my husband and girls were out of town for the weekend. I started de-cluttering my house, getting all my exercise and rest. I liked these simplistic ways you can make a difference and be happy within your means and circumstances. I feel Americans "unhappiness" with our surplus of luxuries is a problem. What is it that makes us so unhappy?

I don't know that I'll
Jan 12, 2010 Jennifer rated it it was ok
"I did, however, vow to stop reading books that I didn't enjoy. I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started -- no longer."

Using the author's own words, that pretty much sums up how I felt about reading this book...although I didn't stop. I read it all the way through and wish that I had actually "Been Gretchen" for a brief moment.

I really liked the concept of the book and of the project; however, I found it to be less inspiring and much more annoying than I would expect a book like
Aug 19, 2012 Sarah rated it did not like it
For fun, someone should do a search through this book to see how many times the phrase "studies show that" actually appears. The entire book reads like a college term project written by a self-absorbed teacher's pet. (The author readily admits to being the type of person who always wants a "gold star" for her efforts.) She strikes me as the type of person who plays everything by the book - from graduating from Yale law school to clerking for Justice O'Connor, so it makes sense that she would tac ...more
Oct 01, 2014 Kim rated it liked it

I don’t know.

I just don’t get it. For the better part of my life I feel that I’ve leaned towards the glass half full-look at the bright side-I’d like to teach the world to sing-make lemonade-happy happy joy joy side of things.

Reading this book made me feel doomed. I snorted and harrumphed and tsk’d a lot at her observations and her truths and it made me Unhappy. I don’t much care for books that do that.
Okay, let’s back up. I wasn’t expecting a life changer here. I thought it would be anecdotal,
Feb 16, 2010 Deb rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, but the further and further I got into my reading, the more I realized that such would not be the case. The premise of The Happiness Project was admirable, but I never really felt like the author was really making any strides in truly becoming a happier person through her methodology. I found that the overuse of scientific research on the topic of happiness drove me absolutely crazy; probably due to the fact that I {personally} think of happiness the same way I ...more
Carmen Sisson
Aug 28, 2010 Carmen Sisson rated it it was ok
Initially, I dismissed this book as fluff. Rubin's self-congratulatory tone, incessant ennui, and frequent carping are grating, particularly when she's discussing her marriage (which seems great) and children (who sound adorable).

However, in the spirit of the book, I decided to make myself finish it and glean whatever I could. Halfway through, I found myself taking notes as insights occurred to me. By the end, I had a good idea of some areas I definitely could improve in my own life.

Most of he
Jul 29, 2011 Elyse rated it it was ok
I'm only reading this because our book club picked it for our 'non-fiction' month ---I'm bored stiff--but I'll finish it. (we read non-fiction every other month) Most of the time we choose better books to read.

I have now finished this book....and I was wrong! I laughed --smiled ---and have respect for the author for the difference she is making with "The Happiness Project".
Aug 09, 2012 Anna rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Anna by: Alexis Amsterdam
This book is written by a happy person who wanted to maximize her happiness. I loved reading Rubin's research (which spans centuries of literature) on what makes us happy. It was helpful and fun to read how she applied the research to her life. Making small changes each day made life happier for her and her family. It's not one of those, take-time-for-yourself/get-a-massage/indulge-yourself books. Nope. It's about working hard to live what you believe.

Rubin focused on figuring out what really ma
Mar 19, 2010 Greg rated it did not like it
Automatic one-star because I couldn't finish this one. I made it up to April, but couldn't cut through the rest. I may skim it for the highlighted sections and then never read it again.

Good news is, there is some "meat" in this book. I'll try to summarize:
* It IS possible to improve your level of happiness, to some degree. 60% of your happiness is uncontrollable (genetics, present life circumstances) but the remaining 40% is dependent on your outlook, choices and personal actions - hence, under
Jan 19, 2015 Danielle rated it it was ok
the author is pretentious, impatient, needy, and snarky. it's apparent that ms. rubin lacks authentic insight or pearls of wisdom, though the book is filled with these little nuggets and gems--from other people.

ms. rubin used multiple quotes, from various people, and tossed them around in every other sentence; wrote words around them, and then called it a memoir, or some such.

'be gretchen,' she announced several times. news flash: gretchen is an uppity privileged bore, who likes to read childr
Jan 15, 2013 molly rated it did not like it
I really want to rate this higher, but the author's writing voice and content just grated on me. The whole premise of the book is to give yourself gold stars for doing everyday life type things. There is no sort of higher thinking here- instead, her advice is essentially to trick yourself into being happier with her little tips like singing in the morning, making yourself laugh, etc. Her version of philosophy is to collect quotes and plunk them into the text seemingly at random. I have quibbles ...more
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2016 Reading Chal...: The Happiness Project 1 25 Jul 14, 2015 10:51AM  
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Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project--accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project,, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happi ...more
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“The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.” 573 likes
“The days are long, but the years are short.” 304 likes
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