Books Lifestyle

Book Review: The Happiness Project

A paperback copy of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin on a table with triangles in wood, yellow, black, and red in a geometric pattern

The Happiness ProjectYellow block letters that say "The Happiness Project" with a blue bird flying to the right

by Gretchen Rubin

Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Publication date: 2009
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 331
Format: Paperback

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Synopsis

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, Rubin 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. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

My thoughts

Gretchen Rubin wasn’t necessarily unhappy, but she knew she could probably be happier. That’s why she devoted one year to a personal happiness project. Each month had a theme — like friendship, mindfulness, or vitality — with a couple of resolutions to match — like “Remember birthdays”, “Keep a food diary”, and “Tackle a nagging task”.

I love projects and personal growth, so The Happiness Project sounded right up my alley! I’m not even exaggerating when I say that every day I woke up excited to be able to read another chapter.

The Happiness Project is a great first book to check out for those who have never read any self-help books before. It covers many aspects of happiness and personal growth, with plenty of facts backed up by science.

The only chapters I wasn’t very interested in were the ones where she worked on her marriage and her relationship with her kids, but I read them anyway because even though I couldn’t relate, there were still valuable lessons to be learned in these chapters.

To give you an idea of how this book could give you a better insight of how to improve your happiness, here are some fun facts!

  • When you’re hugging someone, six seconds is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin (mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding).
  • Your happiness is often boosted more by providing support to other people than from receiving support yourself.
  • Studies show that people’s basic psychological needs include the need to feel secure, to feel good at what they do, to be loved, to feel connected to others, and to have a strong sense of control.

I also started listening to the author’s podcast Happier in the mornings and that made me even more excited to get my shit together. Since discovering Gretchen Rubin’s work, I’ve already stopped a few bad habits and established a few great ones and cannot wait to pick up her latest book Outer Order, Inner Calm, on my favorite subject: decluttering & organization!

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in self-help, personal growth, self-improvement, whatever you want to call it. Even if (maybe especially if) you have never read a self-help book before, give this one a try. It’s very accessible, not at all preachy, and super motivating!

QuotesBlue bird flying to the left

“Happy people generally are more forgiving, helpful, and charitable, have better self-control, and are more tolerant of frustration than unhappy people, while unhappy people are more often withdrawn, defensive, antagonistic, and self-absorbed.”

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

“I’d like to like Bach’s music more than I do, and I could probably make myself like it better if I tried, but I don’t like having to try to make myself like things. I want to spend more time on the things that I already like.”

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