Kate's Reviews > 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 by Gretchen Rubin
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's review
Jan 18, 2010

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bookshelves: memoir, nonfiction
Recommended for: Anyone who is looking to make personal change

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 journey to getting back on track to being happier started in the LGA airport in the Hudson News Bookstore. I was traveling back to Chicago after visiting family in Long Island and Conneticut for Easter. My plane was delayed and I had finished my other book I had brought with. So, being bored and knowing I was going to sit there for a while, I purused the books at Hudson News. This is the one that spoke to me and I started reading it in the airport.

Most of the information isn't anything spectcular and it's all stuff that I already knew, but obviously I needed to hear it again for the millionth time, before it finally sunk in. I wasn't happy because I wasn't making time for the one thing that really makes me happy...writing every day.

So, I decided to start my own project. The first thing I did was clear the clutter out of my apartment. Not only did this make packing tons easier for my move to my new home, but it also lifted a mental weight that too much stuff can have over you and you'll not even realize it. This was a good first step for me. The stuff I didn't have use for I gave away or donated in hopes that someone else who does need it can.

The second step was making more room for creativity every single day. I am really good at making time to read (since I have an hour commute via train) but I wasn't showing up at the page everyday to write and that really soured my mood. So, I started a journal where I would write just a sentence every single day, even when I didn't want to, and you know what? Because I showed up and made the time for creativity, I started writing more than a sentence. I was writing paragraphs, and then pages. That made me really happy and for the first time in a long time I realized, I can do this!

The third and final step (and the one that's still a work in progress for me) is spending money on unnecessary things. I became addicted to internet shopping. It's really easy to do. I would just log on to some of my favorite sites: Etsy, Sephora, Groupon, Amazon and could order in an instant anything I wanted via my credit card. Pretty soon, I was in debt, and I had massive amounts of unnused products, books, and other things I didn't need. So, I stopped spending on the internet all together and bought only the things I absolutely needed like food and began to use up the things I had lying around. This made me feel happier, however, it's still hard for me to go into a store and say, "yes, this is a really good deal, but I don't need it." I'm slowly getting better at this and practice does make perfect.

Like Gretchen, I too just wanted to share my thoughts on this subject, and hopefully inspire others, not to do the same things I've done, but to find their own passion that will make them happier every day and grateful for the little things that we tend to overlook.
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Reading Progress

January 18, 2010 – Shelved
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: memoir
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: nonfiction
May 9, 2011 – Started Reading
May 10, 2011 –
page 60
May 16, 2011 –
page 140
44.44% "The most interesting and important chapter for me so far, has been March's Aim Higher in work; especially as it pretains to my writings. I CAN make this happen :)"
May 17, 2011 –
page 165
52.38% "When I was reading the section on challenging fun at a coffee shop, Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' came over the airwaves and I just had to smile."
May 18, 2011 –
page 194
61.59% "The 'Give Something Up' section really made a lot of sense to me. I'm going to work on giving up internet shopping especially at Etsy, Sephora, Amazon, and Groupon. I'm curious to see how much money I can save if I totally cut out these things and use up what I have laying around my apartment."
May 19, 2011 –
page 235
74.6% "I take care to appear happy and especially to be so."
May 20, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Kate, have you ever read Julie Cameron's books on creativity? She is brilliant - your sentence a day journal reminds me of her exercise in writing, although she set three pages as the daily goal, which was surprisingly easy once started. Congrats on making positive changes in your personal life - it resonates in the world, I promise.

Kate Thanks Cindy for your words of encouragement! I haven't read Julie Cameron's books on creativity, but I think it's something I should certainly look into and try.

kimberly "bought only the things I absolutely needed like food" - loved this

message 4: by Debamitra (new)

Debamitra Kate...you have touched a chord with what you have written, the book may not be that great and we do not actually need to "pursue" happiness as a project but doing practical things like cleaning the clutter and making a little bit of time in our day to do what we really like does make things worthwhile. Lets face it, for all the things that feel good gurus and inspirational websites have to say about living spectacular lives and stuff...in reality most of live our lives one mundane day at a time, but we keep the hope alive, make our surroundings cleaner and neater and keep our passions alive, life cant be that bad can it ?

message 5: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Did this book inspire you?

Kate Yes, this book inspired me. It inspired me to be more creative and to actively pursue creativity every day.

message 7: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Kate wrote: "Yes, this book inspired me. It inspired me to be more creative and to actively pursue creativity every day."

Intresting... did you read a crossing or the drop's history by Anatoliy Obraztsov?

Kate To be honest, I haven't even heard of those two books by Anatoliy Obraztsov, you mentioned.

message 9: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Kate wrote: "To be honest, I haven't even heard of those two books by Anatoliy Obraztsov, you mentioned."
This is one book :). I mean this http://www.amazon.com/crossing-drops-...

message 10: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Oh, I am sorry! Like I said I never heard of the book nor the author. Can you explain more about it or what inspired you to recommend it to me? I'd really like to know more. Thanks!

message 11: by Bobby (new)

Bobby Kate wrote: "Oh, I am sorry! Like I said I never heard of the book nor the author. Can you explain more about it or what inspired you to recommend it to me? I'd really like to know more. Thanks!"

Actually, I can only say that because of this book I fully understood what spirituality is. I've never read books about spirituality with so easy explanations. And now because of books like this one I look at books about spirituality differently. People read profound books about spirituality and sometimes even don't know base of this subject. I hope you understand what I mean :).

message 12: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate I think I do understand what you mean, and I will have to add it to my to-read list.

message 13: by MountainShelby (new)

MountainShelby Well done, Kate.

message 14: by Vera (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vera You captured my sentiments exactly in your review. I read The Happiness Project last month, and from that book I re-evaluated my life and made some plans. I haven't really started on most, like clearing up my room, but I did make time to read more, which I've neglected totally due to school. Good luck on your journey to happiness.

message 15: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Vera, thank you so much for your wonderful words of encouragement! I am excited that you have started by making small plans for yourself, as you never know when they might lead to bigger unexpected plans. Dream big and be happy!

message 16: by Eimear (new) - added it

Eimear Kate, your comments really resonated with me. I have been thinking and talking a lot recently about needing to break out of a funk and three of the things weighing me down are clutter, not making time to be creative and unnecessary spending. I just got the Happiness Project as a birthday present and just bought (I know!) Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way on recommendation from one of the calmest and most creative people I know. I am so excited - and determined - to start both. Here goes...

message 17: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Eimear, I'm very excited for your creative journey, and that you are taking control! It's a bumpy ride, but I know you can do it, and I have a feeling you will become better because of it as well. If you reach any hurdles that seem too large and need some encouragement, just drop me a line and I'll be happy to help. I sincerely wish you all the best and remember little steps add up and don't lose faith in yourself!

Sherri Oster Congratulations,Kate, on making positive changes in your life. I've just finished the book and your review really resonated with me. Although there was nothing really new to me in it, it did inspire me to make some positive changes in my life. That Rubin has led a "charmed life" - as one reviewer put it - doesn't take away the fact that we can all struggle with finding happiness and meaning in our lives. It actually validated my own struggle; I have a good job, a great marriage,my health - why can't I be happier?

message 19: by Kate (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate Thanks Sherri for your wonderful comment. I totally agree that we all struggle with the pursuit of happiness in our own unique ways and that this book validates that aspect very well. I also feel that we ALL can take small steps to make our whole selves happier, it's just a process of self discovery, which can lead to larger changes. I wish you all the best on your quest for personal happiness in 2014!

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