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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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January 2017: Bonus Admin Tags > The Happiness Project/Gretchen Rubin - 3 stars (self improvement)

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JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments I heard Gretchen Rubin on a podcast promoting her "habit" book. She was pretty funny and engaging so I picked this book on a kindle sale. When it met a challenge task, I actually decided to see if the library had an audio copy since I think I do better listening to non-fiction (especially self-help) than reading. The author was the narrator, and she did a fine job. This book is about her spending a year researching the topic of happiness and creating a happiness project where each month she focused on a certain aspect of her life to see if she could take action-able steps to make herself more happy.

I found this book to be similar to The 4-Hour Workweek --- the authors both come off as a bit pretentious; however, if you stick with it, there are definitely some nuggets that are worthwhile. At least in this book, the big take-away is "Fake It until you Make It", meaning that by focusing on and pretending to be happy, you will probably in fact become more happy. Some is common sense, like if you set out monthly goals and review them daily, you will probably be successful (who knew - haha).

The other take-away is that each person is different, so although Rubin is sharing what she did, it was based on some self-evaluation. As an example, she loves books (reading, writing and literally making books), so she spent some time focused on these pursuits to see if doing the things that she loved would help her be calmer and more happy. I can relate to this as 2016 was a tough year for me especially at the end of the year. I stopped doing my "happy activities" (reading and knitting) because I was too busy or too tired to do them, which really made me feel off kilter. I am a generally happy and positive person, but found that without these activities, my batteries weren't re-charging and it was having a spiraling effect on me and those around me.

All in all, I won't rush out to read the follow up Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life, but if you do like self-help than this might be an interesting read for you. You do have to look beyond the fact that the author does in fact seem to have a lot of time to devote to making herself "happy" that most of use don't have, but if you think about it as her job then maybe it's easier to overlook this aspect of the book.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for posting your thoughts, JoLene. Although I don't really care to read this one, I liked your comment about feeling off kilter when not making some time for pursuits that make you happy. Even a little reading in the morning can be a stress reliever.


message 3: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 714 comments Nice Review. I think the key to most books that fall into the self-improvement category is to take a few nuggets from them and leave the rest. If we really expect the entire book to be applicable or even approachable we will often be disappointed. People are just not enough alike for the entire book (most often) to be something we love.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

J.W. wrote: "Nice Review. I think the key to most books that fall into the self-improvement category is to take a few nuggets from them and leave the rest. If we really expect the entire book to be applicable o..."

Good point. :-)


message 5: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3813 comments JoLene wrote: "the authors both come off as a bit pretentious; however, if you stick with it, there are definitely some nuggets that are worthwhile.."

My mom really liked this, but I thought it looked really cheesy. I'm not sure the nuggets are worth digging for.


JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Joi wrote: "My mom really liked this, but I thought it looked really cheesy. I'm not sure the nuggets are worth digging for. ."

Yeah, everyone has to make their own call on that one. I find that I am less annoyed when listening because I'm generally multi-tasking and then don't feel like I wasted so much time for a small nugget.


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