The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

May 18, 2012

This review was written before the birth of this blog.

I have no reservations giving this book five stars. For me, it was truly life-changing. I finished it a week ago and having been mulling over the rating: Does is truly deserve five stars? It was not without its faults, and of course I found something to be critical about (see below), but the truth is, I can't stop thinking about this book. It sneaks into every conversation and accompanies many of my thoughts. It's one of the few books I've read where I actually considered re-reading it immediately after finishing it. I liked it that much...and thought it would benefit me just as much the second time around.

I have felt kind of overwhelmed by writing this review. There's so much I'd like to say, so much I thought I would say when I was reading it. It is the only book, to date, that I've marked with sticky tabs. There was so much I wanted to remember. (I wish, wish, wish I'd bought my own copy. I really don't know how I can take it back to the library.)

In short summary, one day while riding the subway, Gretchen Rubin gets caught up wondering if it's possible for her to make herself happier. Not that she's unhappy. But she wonders if she would actually notice a difference in her level of happiness if she were making a conscious effort to improve it, or if her ability to be happy is so engrained in her genetic make-up that she wouldn't notice much change. She devotes a whole year to becoming happier...each month has a theme (June: Make Time for Friends) with specific, theme-related resolutions.

Here comes my first criticism: it bothered me that one of the main reasons she seemed to be doing this project was because she wanted to publish a book about it. It just seemed so...monetary...insincere. But then I thought, What do I care about her reasons for doing it? I agree with what she's saying! I love what she's saying! The content of the book didn't change just because she might have had ulterior motives. The natural progression doesn't always have to be "Get a good idea, execute good idea, and then think, 'I could write a book about that!" Sometimes it can go, "Get a good idea, think, 'I could write a book about that,' and then execute the good idea."

Here are just a few of the resolutions and happiness thoughts that really resonated with me:

*Act the way I want to feel
*What's fun for other people may not be fun for you (total revelation! I feel so completely liberated!)
*Tackle a nagging task
*the one-minute rule
*Indulge in a modest splurge
*Pursue a passion

Since my religion is a huge part of my life, and therefore my happiness, I wondered if I wouldn't relate very well to Gretchen Rubin's resolutions, since she readily admits to not being very religious (if I remember right, "respectfully agnostic" is the way she describes herself). But even though that might seem like an impossible chasm to bridge between our lifestyles/personalities, I found it really wasn't difficult at all. There were so many principles that I could apply, maybe in different ways, but very applicable nonetheless.

The one part of the book that irked me (though not enough to bring down my rating) was all of the blog comments. I liked seeing the perspectives of other people but thought that they were poorly selected and that overall, there were just too many of them.

I feel embarrassed to admit that I've been steering away from this book for over a year. Even though all the reviews I read were positive, I still viewed it with very cynical eyes. Another book about happiness? Gag. I know how to be happy without reading a book about it. But then after reading a particularly glowing review, I decided that it actually sounded like something I would like. And lo and behold, I not only liked it, but I want it to have a permanent home on my bookshelves. It wasn't just full of reminders of things I already knew; it literally changed the way I view happiness and my ability to make myself happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground