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Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her-and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising-she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference-and they range from the practical to the profound.

Written with charm and wit, The Happiness Project is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project.

Book Reviews

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
Average rating
4 / 5
How depressing
September 15th, 2015
I really didn't like this book. It is highly personal; Rubin goes on about her family and personal issues so much it feels like she spends half the time whining about her own life. The other half of the book is her being over-the-top happy and preachy. It feels very uncritical and unobjective; there is very little reasoning, and she jumps around topics in a seemingly random and chaotic manner. Seneca, the great Stoic thinker gets a line or two I think, but laughing yoga gets a couple of pages. Most of the advice was common sense (e.g. tidy up and you'll feel better), or just blindingly obvious. There were no great revelations for me in this book, and like all bad self-help books, left me feeling like it was a waste of time, and wholly unenthusiastic about my own happiness. Rubin also just gets more and more annoying the further you read. If you're after a self-help palette-cleanser, I would recommend Oliver Burkeman's excellent "The Antidote" instead; there is a self-help book on happiness of substance.
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The Happiness Project
December 30th, 2013
This book had some terrific ideas, however, I don't feel it is as applicable for people who suffer depression. Gretchen admits she was already happy, no serious problems, she just wanted to be happier.
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I loved this book
December 6th, 2013
I read this last summer when visiting my ailing in-laws which was pretty sad. Reading this then helped smooth out the rough, but since then I keep referring back to the book. It's just a joyful read well written and written in fun and full of fun things tried and done.
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