60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
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. She's not saying, "I did it, and I did it perfectly", she's saying, "I did it, and sometimes I failed, but in the end, I felt happier".
I did have a few minor problems with this book: she often incorporates comments from her happiness blog into the book. They were relevant, but truthfully if I wanted to read the comments of her blog readers, I would probably just read her blog. They got a little repetitive. I also found that things dragged a little in the chapters for the months of September, October, and November. I found that the things that she was saying were similar to those things said in previous months, so I skimmed those chapters a bit. These were minor problems, though, and they really didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.
A great read- and yes, I feel happier just because I read it...
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
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. I applaud what are probably true efforts in finding meaning and happiness but reading someone's ramblings, basically a published journal, can be painful and dull. After a short while, each chapter was a let down. The insights seemed shallow and unmoving.
I can't help but feel her financial and political status was the driving force behind this being considered a #1 Best Seller, because, quite plainly, I don't think it would have attained that status based solely on the merit of the writing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2014
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 Jinni), but couldn’t find the words to describe my feelings about these stories. Then I pulled Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project off my shelf and hoped that it would inspire me to be a) happy, b) inspired to write and c) give me some form of positive outlook on things happening in my life.
I rarely put a book down. It feels like a defeat to me; that there was a story out there that failed to capture my attention, or a project I started but didn’t finish. But alas, I put The Happiness Project down with less than 100 pages to go. I started off really enjoying the book. Rubin goes through how she came up with the concept of putting a happiness project in place. Sitting on a bus one day, realizing that life was passing her by and wondering if she was getting the most out of it, she set certain goals throughout the year - her happiness project - to “appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life.”
Before reading any book, I like to take a quick look at reviews. For those wondering, among the book review sites I regularly visit are goodreads.com and amazon.ca. I was surprised that people were complaining about Rubin’s book, a common sentiment being that she was too selfish and self-absorbed. I find that a strange view to take of someone telling a story of their personal journey. They are the subjects of their own experiment so of course it’s going to sound self-absorbed.
However, through the course of the book I realized what these critics were talking about. Rubin’s story does have some great points to it, some I even wrote down and sent them to myself at the office as helpful reminders. But as she goes through her personal journey she continually goes back and forth as to whether she is actually happier while implementing her new techniques. Rubin writes about how she likes to earn gold stars for accomplishing work. Appropriate, because by the time I got to August of her year-long project I felt like this entire book was just an effort to earn a figurative gold star from a wider population of readers. Put another way, I couldn’t help but feel like Rubin’s book was less an endeavour toward genuine personal happiness than it was an author’s design to get another book published.
She says she keeps track of what works and what doesn’t over the time, but she doesn’t go into why or how a given method functions. By August, I couldn’t go further. The book was starting to annoy rather than inspire. Maybe if I got to the end of the book I would see more of what worked and what didn’t, but Rubin’s journey wasn’t especially captivating. It evolved into a sort of month-to-month journal of someone’s life with a project somewhat interwoven.
Rubin is an accomplished author in her own right, without doubt. At times, however, The Happiness Project comes across as an upper-class working mom with a successful husband living in New York’s Upper East Side chronicling her struggles with first world problems.
So while I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped I would, I am grateful for one thing. It inspired me enough to once again sit down and write a review. And that made me happy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I picked up this book because I wanted something light to read as a change from murder mysteries. It turned out to be a wonderful find. I was skeptical at first because I thought that it would be boring to read about someone's journey and self-analysis to make herself more happy, especially when the person in question seems to "have it all". It seemed just so pointless and self-indulgent. Well, she was right when she says at the beginning of the book that we can learn much from others around us, including how to achieve a happier life. It's very well written, it's engaging and the tone is light, yet fairly deep. Depending of where you're at in you life, some chapters won't be relevant or may be less inspiring but, no matter what, every chapter seems to contain observations that will make you pause -- assuming, of course, that you are open-minded and interested in self-growth. I buy very few books (I'm a faithful library supporter!) but this is one book that I will buy and re-read. It's jam-packed with good common sense tips and reminders that we too often ignore. I will also offer it to my friends and family to inspire them to find ways to enjoy life more and be happier. I haven't read many self-help books so it's hard to compare it but, I give it 5 stars (excellent).
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"Act the way you want to feel." Deceptively simple advice but the most profound concept I took away from "The Happiness Project." In self-help's newest "do something off-beat for a year and write a book about it" memoir, Gretchen Rubin dismisses the notion that increased happiness only comes from sweeping life changes. Instead, the author creates a few resolutions per month based on a specific theme (marriage, money, spirituality etc) and chronicles her struggles to make small adjustments to her everyday attitude.
Rubin writes in an appealing, conversational style and shares many thought-provoking tips on fostering a greater sense of well-being: cut people slack, tackle a nagging task, laugh every day. She backs up her anecdotes with extensive research and always maintains that what makes HER happy won't necessarily make others happy. Thus, she encourages independence in her readers, guiding us to improve our own unique lives instead of simply following her model. Responsibly, she also makes it clear that she offers no magic formula; her book will not treat depression.
Unfortunately, though, a lot of Rubin's memoir feels both tedious and obvious; by the April chapter I started skimming and didn't really stop. Cliches such as, "you can't change your partner, you can only change yourself" crop up all too often and epiphanies like using file boxes to store cards and photos seem ridiculous coming from an intelligent, organized woman who used to clerk for Sandra Day O'Connor.
Finally, much of the book's latter half consists of comments that internet users have left on The Happiness Project's blog. A few insightful thoughts from others may have added interest but the larger volume only disrupted Rubin's flow in the name of filling space.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 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!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2010
She tells her story with honesty, insight and humour. I felt like I was sitting with her and hearing her talk over coffee in my kitchen.
A great read. Worthwhile for any woman in a hectic life wanting to create some time to reflect on how to make life a little easier and well - happier!!
on June 5, 2014
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? What can I/you/we do to be happier? That is what the author wondered? She wanted to be happier. Each month she would research different things that she thought that would make her happy. They seemed to work for her.
There were a few I tried, like writing a blog. I was never good at keeping a diary or jounal. I decided to start a blog of the books I read. I was writing reviews anyway. I did receive some pleasure when a author thanked me for reviewing their book on my blog.
There were two things that the author did that I found funny because they were almost opposite of each other. De-cluttering and stating a collection. Funny thing, both can make you happy, but seem opposite of each other.
I enjoyed the book. You do not have to read it one chapter at a time. I do recommend reading a chapter at a time to ponder what the author did and what you might do. We all have different things that make us happy.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2011
Found this book an easy, but enjoyable read.Full of tidbits of information and "quotable quotes". Initially intended to read one chapter a month and follow the process as she did, but then decided to speed up the process and "do my own thing" as some of her issues weren't my issues. Still all in all, found it useful, engaging, entertaining and a happy little book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2013
I starting reading this book at the beginning of the new year as my resolution was to be a happier person all around. This book is very motivating, uplifting and has some great suggestions and ideas. This will be a book that I will keep reading over and over again when I feel like I need a boost. :-)