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Review: “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

March 30, 2010

This book had the potential to be one big cheesy cliche.  For that reason, I considered passing it by.  I’m glad I didn’t.

True, it’s one of those books where the author decides to focus on a particular thing for one year and then writes a book about it.  But instead of learning French cooking or living according to every rule in the Bible, Gretchen Rubin decided to explore happiness.

In setting up her happiness project, Rubin did what I would do, which was to read all the books she could get her hands on looking at happiness from every angle imaginable.  She then picked out what made the most sense or seemed most intriguing to her and worked each concept into her overall twelve part plan for the year.  Each monthly theme had several concrete actions associated with it, to make it easier to access, and she tracked each action with a detailed resolutions chart.

The book is structured around the twelve part plan, with one chapter for each theme/month.  Examples and quotations from Rubin’s happiness research are abundant, as are examples and anecdotes from her daily life.  She shares her reactions honestly, including her failures and successes side by side.  And throughout, there are plenty of lovely nuggets of wisdom.

I especially appreciated Rubin’s concrete approach — it’s what keeps this book from being too touchy-feely.  She writes in a way that is lovely and easy to read, and she makes the entire process sound so rewarding that you start thinking about what you might apply to your own life.  If you are skeptical, like I was, don’t worry; this book isn’t anywhere near as syrupy as it sounds!  I found it well worth the time it took to read.

Rubin also has a very active blog as well as a happiness toolbox to help readers launch their own happiness projects…if you’re interested!

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2 Comments
  1. April 5, 2010 1:53 pm

    Erin,

    I saw the nice mention of my book, The Happiness Project, here! I very much appreciate those kind words and you shinning a spotlight on my work!! Thanks and best wishes,
    Gretchen

    • Erin permalink*
      April 5, 2010 2:05 pm

      Gretchen,
      Thank *you* for the lovely book! Bits and pieces of it have been seeping into my life in all sorts of positive ways, without me even trying. It was refreshing to find a book on happiness that’s neither sappy nor purely instructional.
      Best,
      Erin

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