The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

Yes, it’s another “I did something for a year and got a book contract!” books. And yes, it has the obligatory blurb from A.J. Jacobs.  But I still enjoyed it. Call me a sucker (though a bitter sucker, since I still haven’t figured out the year-long challenge that will get ME a book deal), but as long as the book is well-written, I’ll dedicate a few hours of my time to finding out what someone else dedicated a year of theirs to.

In a lot of ways, this is the lamest project yet, and yet the book is more enjoyable than you’d think. Gretchen Rubin, a not-particularly-unhappy writer, decided to dedicate a year to learning about happiness, and to making and following resolutions that would help her be happier. She didn’t travel anywhere or uproot her life in any signficant way — basically, each month she just focused on things that would help to make her a happier, better, more productive person. And it worked.

Lots of her resolutions are simple and obvious, and the sort of things I’m always trying to put into practice. It’s interesting to see how she learned to push herself outside her comfort zone, but also learned about ways she needed to stay inside her comfort zone — such as her realization that “What’s fun for other people may not be fun for me.”  Practical translation: if someone else tells you how much their life was transformed and enriched by hiking the Appalachian Trail, but you have no desire to hike and know you don’t like it, don’t do it. Do something else instead.

Simple, practical wisdom, told with a touch of that self-deprecating humour that makes this sort of thing palatable — that’s what this book has to offer. I doubt it will transform anyone’s life — in fact, I’m not even sure, by her own account, that it transformed Rubin’s in any major way (except of course getting the deal for a book that turned out to be a bestseller).  Personally, I wouldn’t be tempted to take on anything called a “happiness project” since one of the ways I’m lucky is that I’ve always been pretty happy without really trying. But lots of her resolutions are simply things that could make your life better, and I’m always on the lookout for those. If you’re interested in light, gentle steps toward self-improvement, you might well enjoy this book.



Filed under Nonfiction -- memoir

5 responses to “The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

  1. Catherine T

    Hi Trudy!
    So this is the second book my bookclub is doing. I have NO desire to read this, I’m tryin to keep an open mind…really I am! Who knows when I’m done maybe I’LL jump on the bandwagon and write a book about some activity I’ll do for a year and stretch it out to a full length book. Watch out for your rich and famous friend… okay, I guess I’m not keeping an open mind!

  2. I think you’ll find it OK. It’s an easy read and often amusing.

  3. Why your reply is sound a negative ways…i think you’re cant make book like this….

    • I not understand comment. I say book good and enjoyable though basic idea a bit lame. Good writer like Rubin can make interesting book from boring concept. Is may be right that I have make boring book from interesting concept many times. In this blog I am as reader not as writer, so not compare others’ writers to mine own. Not mean sounding negative about this book in any ways at all.

  4. Pingback: WEEK END LOVES #24 | be. get. see.

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