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The Happiness Project [Hardcover]

Gretchen Rubin
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 21 2009

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 different set of resolutions -- go to sleep earlier, tackle a nagging task, bring people together, take time to be silly -- along with dozens of other goals. She read everything from classical philosophy to cutting-edge scientific studies, from Winston Churchill to Oprah, developing her own definition of happiness and a plan for how to achieve it. She kept track of which resolutions worked and which didn’t, sharing her stories and collecting those of others through her blog (created to fulfill one of March’s resolutions). Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life.

The Happiness Project is the engaging, relatable and inspiring result of the author’s twelve-month adventure in becoming a happier person. Written with a wicked sense of humour and sharp insight, Gretchen Rubin’s story will inspire readers to embrace the pleasure in their lives and remind them how to have fun.

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"A cross between the Dalai Lama?s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert?s Eat, Pray, Love."
?Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness ()


"This book made me happy in the first five pages. And the more I read it, the happier I got. It's filled with great insights that have changed every part of my life, from love to money, from work to play, from writing to Diet Coke."
—A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

"A cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love."
—Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness

"Happiness is contagious. And so is The Happiness Project. This is the rare book that will make you both smile and think—often on the same page." —Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm happier just having read it! Jan. 28 2010
By BookChick TOP 500 REVIEWER
Gretchen Rubin is pretty happy. She's got a wonderful husband, two great little girls, they are financially secure and she's doing what she loves- writing. One day on the bus she comes to a realization- she's happy, but she could be happier. This realization leads her to create a "happiness project"- 12 months of tasks and resolutions that will (hopefully) result in her being the happiest Gretchen that she can be. Armed with her personal 12 commandments and her secrets of adulthood, she sets out on her year-long quest for personal happiness, and "The Happiness Project" is born.

I loved this book! I managed to pick up a lot of great ideas from the tasks that Gretchen set out to do. I learned the most from the months of January (Boost Energy), February (Remember Love), April (Parenthood), and July (Buy Some Happiness). After reading January's chapter I was inspired to organize my home more effectively, February's chapter inspired me to nag my husband less and to be thankful for the great person that he is, April reminded me to be more patient with my frustrating, aggravating, yet amazing children, and July inspired me to make some more concrete goals when it comes to saving money.

Another thing that I liked about the book was that Gretchen never tries to be anything that she isn't. In fact, one of her commandments is "Be Gretchen". When some of her friends tell her that she should take up meditiation, or that she should see a therapist, and those suggestions don't resonate with her personally, she just doesn't do them. She's not saying that they don't work, just that they don't work for her. She doesn't encourage anyone to do "her" happiness project, but to do one that works for "them". She also openly admits when she fails, giving her a human quality that I really appreciated.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hollow and unengaging Jan. 10 2012
By Raj
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The idea of this book seemed at first compelling enough for me to buy it, but as I went from chapter to chapter, I found it more difficult to read on. Although no doubt genuine, the author comes across as a bit self-obsessed. Now, in all fairness there's a bit of that in all of us, especially if you're going to buy this book. You're most likely buying it because you're searching for ways to increase your own happiness. Fair enough. Overall though, the writing is unengaging and like listening to someone talk about themselves for hours - just not in an interesting way. Phrases like 'studies show' and quoting statistics were already old by page 40.

Chapter after chapter, I kept giving it a try and ultimately grew bored of her rambling. And yet, this is meant to be a #1 Best Seller? That's definitely a sign of the politics involved in choosing what's a best seller because it's definitely not based on the writing style. If you want to read something that is introspective and yet eloquently written, read Thoreau, Krishnamurti or Gibran.

After giving up on the book, I researched the author (and found out that she is the daughter of Robert Rubin, the 70th United States Secretary of the Treasury during both the first and second Clinton administrations), and both she and her husband are multimillionaires. I'm not suggesting that if one is swimming in cash that they don't have a right to search for happiness, but at the same time, when _that_ privileged, with hired help keeping your house clean and minding your children, I can't say I feel too much empathy as you stare out your New York high society home, trying to find ways to cope with how difficult your life seems to be.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By Sandra
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I decided not to finish it. It maybe wasnt what I expected or hoped for more than anything. I found her to be a bit controlling and self absorbed but I am glad for her that her project worked to make her a happier person. It was just not what I expected. It seems though that others really liked it. The idea of creating a happiness project is good and I probably got more out of the title than the actual book itself. I am riding the fence on this one I guess and wishing I had saved the money for a Dalia lama book. :)
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you happy? June 9 2010
Something that I've contemplated for some time is that it seems to me that with the advent of cell phones and instant communication, it is difficult for the average person to exist in the here and the now, to fully appreciate what is happening right in front of them. The concept of happiness is something you are meant to achieve one day, something you'll have once you accomplish "blank".

At first I wasn't buying in to author Gretchen Rubin's systematic approach to achieving happiness. But when I considered my feelings about being in the here and now, I realized that a systematic approach may be exactly what people need to recognize happiness in their lives.

In "The Happiness Project", you will accompany Gretchen Rubin through her one year of making room for more happiness in her life. Whether you chose to follow the author's monthly resolutions or chose your own, you will find that you can make room for more happiness in your life, that you can and probably are happy today. You will discover that you can achieve happiness by deciding to be happy. Brilliant!
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
One of the worst books I've ever tried to read. The author comes off as extremely self-absorbed. It feels like going for coffee with a friend who won't stop talking about herself... Read more
Published 2 months ago by M
4.0 out of 5 stars What Makes You Happy?
I read this book for my book club. Rather than read it one sitting, we did one chapter a month for a year, as the chapters are based.

Who dosen't wnat to be happier? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lyle G. Appleyard
2.0 out of 5 stars First World Problems
I was feeling down about the fact I haven’t been writing much over the past few months. I have read five books since I last posted, one that I really enjoyed (The Golem and the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Stephanie Taylor-Baptiste
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect.
I've now read this book four times and each time it inspires me. I see this book less as a how-to guide on happiness and more as a narrative on one woman's journey. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Natasha Cooper
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a good book, but the paper is a bit cheap.
That was the book I ordered but when I received it I fonded the quality of the paper a bit cheap. It was for a Christmas gift so I was disapointed.
Published 10 months ago by Hélène Moore
1.0 out of 5 stars Blah!
I could not get into this story to save my life. I'm already a very happy person so I think reading about someone trying to be happy was just incredibly boring.
Published 10 months ago by Ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars Will keep reading it over and over
I starting reading this book at the beginning of the new year as my resolution was to be a happier person all around. Read more
Published 18 months ago by M. Meadows
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting concept
I didn't manage to finish reading it. I got the feeling that the author was more than a bit of an over-acheiver. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Bradley Gould
1.0 out of 5 stars Ugh
I tried. I really did. But this is the first book (out of some 100+ books I've purchased in the last 10 years) which I've decided is just not worth my time to read --- or even to... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Al Sibilo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
My daughter and I read this book together. We both loved it and made it a new years resolution to follow through applying some of the concepts. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Miller
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