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

Rubin, Gretchen Craft

Book - 2009
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Happiness Project
A thoughtful and prescriptive work on happiness filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and humor. On the outside, Gretchen Rubin had it all--a good marriage, healthy children and a successful career--but 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. 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. Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life. With a wicked sense of humour and sharp insight, Gretchen's story will inspire readers to embrace the pleasure in their lives.--From publisher description.

Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, c2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780061583254
Characteristics: xiv, 301 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.


From the critics

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Jan 29, 2015

I had the wonderful opportunity to read this book with my partner in crime, Robert, and perhaps that has skewed my perception of this book. We read it chapter by chapter and took the time to talk about each chapter before moving on. He noticed and appreciated parts of the book that I overlooked. Within the first hundred pages Robert was zooming around the house picking up this and that, and whenever I asked what had gotten into him, he panted, “less than a minute,” before hurriedly moving onto the next task. Early in the book Rubin asks ‘if it takes less than a minute, why not get it done?’ Or something like that, because I was probably rolling my eyes too much during that part. I roll them even more now while watching Robert spend a collective 4 zillion minutes doing minute chores. But Robert loved that little nugget, so it just proves that this book has something for everybody, and I’m glad I shared it with him because not only did I get to read the book with two entirely different perceptions, I also learned more about Robert, who happens to be a large chunk of my happiness. Occasionally I’ll do one of those minute chores but I always allow for a healthy break between the minutes – at least a couple days.

What I loved about The Happiness Project:

* The Twelve Commandments and Secrets of Adulthood lists. First of all LISTS. And more importantly, they are thought-provoking and insightful lists. My favorite is ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’

* Concrete ideas and applications supported by quirky quotes from beloved movers and shakers of both past and present. Rubin is a reader and this is proven through her extensive implementation of ideas and sayings that she borrowed from other writers. Without question, the pieces I found most interesting in this book were not written by Rubin.

* The concept of taking pleasure in the “atmosphere of growth,” which is defined as appreciating all the little steps that I take in order to get to the ultimate goal, and in doing so, deriving more happiness from those steps than the goal itself.

* Two words: FOG HAPPINESS. It’s the kind of happiness that’s elusive but absolutely legitimate. It’s the kind of happiness that you don’t recognize at the moment it’s doing its little party in your brain. I’ll use an example from working in a library. When I put a cart in order or am continuously receiving holds for a few hours it can feel very repetitive because it is, but at the same time there is a beauty and rhythm to putting things in order. Repetitive work gives your brain time to blossom, and the blossoming part is just as essential as stepping back and admiring the blooms.

* The scrappy hat. As soon as I find a glue gun I’m going gangbusters gluing all my itty-bitty treasures to it.

* The “fundamental attribution error.” I’ll use Rubin’s example here: “When other people’s cell phones ring during a movie, it’s because they’re inconsiderate boors; if my cell phone rings during a movie, it’s because I need to be able to take a call from the babysitter.”

* Equally important is “spontaneous trait transference,” which is fancy lingo for 'the things you say about others stick to you.'

* The bibliography is exciting for any bibliophile, especially those obsessed with self-help literature.

Jan 07, 2015
  • KISSfan1969 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I got bogged down reading multiple entries from her blog. There were a few good ideas but I felt she could have gotten her points across better with fewer words. I had to stop at the half way point and skim the rest.

May 09, 2014
  • camdavis11 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Though the author gets too self-involved--especially about her marriage, she includes great quotes and citations by philosophers on "happiness" and makes an important point: most people have to work for happiness. It doesn't just happen.

Jan 01, 2014
  • swong1000 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Found this book kind of annoying to read because the author sounds like an irritating, self-centred person. There are several pretty self serving, shameless references to previous books she has written (or even her sister has written) and her blog. Feels like this is all a way to just promote herself and her next book (which was disappointing).

Jun 06, 2013
  • Vic4132 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This book is filled with scores of fascinating factoids, and well-written by one who is obviously very smart. The author herself, with her personal stories and relentless vitality, is a fascinating subject in herself. But as her year passed the tone and pace of the book diminished until I became anxious to finish.

Apr 18, 2013

Didn't Gretchen Rubin's family profit from the global economic meltdown? Isn't she therefore a purveyor of unhappiness to many, many others?

Nov 29, 2012
  • sablegirl rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

Just skimmed this book and didn't find it very interesting. Not highly recommended.

Sep 10, 2012

worth to try our own happiness project

Aug 15, 2012
  • cantilcm2008 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book helped me learn how to eliminate clutter from my room. I'm kind of a pack rat and it really was a great guide for letting go of useless stuff. There are instances where certain chapters may not apply to every reader but the author makes every effort to have a least some parts of it to apply to anyone's life.

Aug 11, 2012

What I really enjoyed about this book, was that the author didn't whitewash her behaviour. It's always so refreshing to read about other people who don't get it right all the time! I liked this book enough to buy my own copy to keep and go back to and encourage all my nearest and dearest to read. Lots to ponder and lots that could help just about anyone. I like that it was by and about someone who felt she already has plenty to be happy about, but that she wasn't behaving in a happy way and wanted to find a way to be more present in her life and appreciate the good things she has. I suspect that's true of a lot of us.

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May 10, 2011
  • garden_girl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

garden_girl thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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