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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

(The Happiness Project #1)

by
3.59  ·  Rating details ·  116,304 Ratings  ·  11,213 Reviews
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 adventure
...more
Hardcover, 301 pages
Published December 29th 2009 by Harper (first published 2009)
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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

Community Reviews

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Laura
Jul 05, 2011 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
Feb 24, 2010 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
...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
Jan 25, 2010 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
...more
Katie
May 19, 2013 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
...more
Kate
Jan 18, 2010 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
...more
Alea
Dec 05, 2009 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
...more
Lori
Jul 31, 2012 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
Melanie
Nov 22, 2013 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
...more
Jenna Copeland
Jan 10, 2013 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
sleeps9hours
Apr 15, 2010 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
Diane
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
...more
Christy
3.5 stars

I enjoyed the audio book of The Happiness Project. I always like when authors narrate their own books, and Gretchen Rubin did a nice job with the audio. I listened to the book fairly quickly, it only took me 2 days. On the parts that related to my life, I can give an awesome 4-5 star rating to. Unfortunately, a lot of the book had to do with parenting and other things (not just ones own happiness) and I found myself completely zoning out. Still, it was a solid read and there are parts
...more
Tina
Dec 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club, 2013, memoirs
The most useful part of this book was when the author suggests not continuing to read a book you're not enjoying. I stopped there. Great advice.
Tasha
Apr 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
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
...more
Caroline
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book, it was fun and stimulating, and it made me HAPPY.

It involved following Gretchen Rubin in her year-long pursuit to increase the amount of happiness in her life. I learnt a lot along the way, and often they were things I was not expecting to learn. I didn't agree with everything she tried - but then neither did she - some of her projects just didn't work out. But a lot of them did, and she has given us all a lot to think about.

The book has been a great success, spawnin
...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
Sarah
Aug 19, 2012 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
Gaijinmama
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help, nonfiction
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
...more
Erin
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, how-to
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
||Swaroop||
May 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
“Pierre Reverdy wrote: “There is no love; there are only proofs of love.”

Gretchen Rubin`s 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 is good with some practical points and realistic advice.

This book will be more useful if read as a Self-help book, and not a memoir.

If you are willing to take the blame, people will give you responsibilities.

It is easy to be heavy, hard to be light.

Do goo
...more
Gina
Jan 08, 2010 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"
...more
Jennifer
Jan 07, 2010 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
...more
MC
Aug 04, 2012 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.
Rosie Nguyễn
Có hai chữ để tóm tắt quyển sách này: nông cạn. Nông cạn, và hời hợt, và vật chất. Mới những trang dầu đã không thấy thích rồi, nhưng vì đang tìm hiểu các sách viết về hạnh phúc để tìm tư liệu cho quyển sách thứ 3 và phát triển triết lý hạnh phúc nên ráng đọc hết, sợ bỏ lỡ một chi tiết nào quan trọng chăng, và đọc để coi nó dở đến mức nào, và dù sao nó cũng là bestseller mà, nên kiên nhẫn. Nhưng mà càng đọc càng ức chế.

Tác giả mặc dù ở phần đầu và giới thiệu ghi là đọc từ Aristotle đến Thoreau
...more
Deb
Feb 16, 2010 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
Lisa Lewis
Jan 22, 2011 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
Elyse
Jul 13, 2011 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".
Beth
Jun 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book annoyed me in the same way that "Eat, Pray, Love" annoyed me. I mean, a wealthy woman, with a nanny to boot, spends a year trying things like "de-cluttering the closet" and "organizing files" and then emerges with helpful tips like "de-clutter your closet" and "organize your files."

She also helpfully mentions that you should be nice to your spouse.

Spare me.
Kim
Jul 20, 2014 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,
...more
molly
Jan 15, 2013 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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I am the author of New York Times bestsellers The Happiness Project, Happier at Home, and Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies. My next book, Outer Order Inner Calm , will be published March 2018.

Curious about The Four Tendencies? Find out if you're an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel (and how to harness your strengths. Take the free Four Tendencies quiz.

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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.” 632 likes
“The days are long, but the years are short.” 372 likes
More quotes…