I absolutely love the topic of happiness – reading articles and blog posts about it, discussing it in person with others, practicing tips and techniques I pick up along the way, etc.  So when I read an article about The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I knew I had to read this book.  I mean it does have the word happiness in the title!

I started with no expectations at all and came out with a whole lot.  In fact, I took notes along the way, so that I could share my lessons learned versus just a synopsis of the book.

But first a very short description…

With humor and humility, Gretchen Rubin set out to create a year long happiness project for herself.  But not because she was unhappy.  She wanted to see if she could improve her already pretty great life by applying the sage wisdom of philosophers from the past and the modern day research of today.

The book is organized with that year long timeframe in mind, with every chapter being about a particular month and her resolutions for that month.  For example, one month (chapter) is dedicated to the relationship between money and happiness, while another is about relationships and marriage.

Before I get into specifics, I want to say that I loved the little experiments she set up for herself every month.  They reinforced the fact that little changes/updates can have a huge impact on an individual’s quality of life and his/her happiness factor.  And with every experiment, she would reinforce the fact that in order to feel true happiness she had to “be Gretchen.”  In other words, in order for the changes to have a real impact on her happiness, she had to be herself at all times.  

So here are the things that really stood out to me as I was reading…

  • The very simple 1 minute rule.  If you can do a particular task in 1 minute, don’t postpone it.  Get it out of the way.  For example, when I get home from work and change out of my work clothes, my instinct is to throw them on the bed.  Now, I literally pause and think about how putting them away or throwing them in the hamper takes about 30 seconds, and then I do just that.  This was one of my favorite tips – it’s made a huge difference!
  • A paradox of happiness – “We seek to control ourselves but the unfamiliar and unexpected are important sources of happiness.”  Basically, sometimes you just have to let go and take a deep dive into the unknown.  This is something I’m getting better at because I’ve realized (in retrospect) that some of the happiest moments in my life have been the ones I never saw coming.
  • A secret of adulthood – fun for one person does not equal fun for the next.  While it’s great to learn from others and take part in new experiences every now and then, do what makes you happy and don’t feel bad about it.
  • “Be Gretchen” –> “Be Parita” Smile
  • “The days are long, but the years are shorter.”  So so true!  And I think many people, including myself, take this for granted.  If you want to make a change in your life (any change), the time to do it is now.  What are you waiting for!?
  • It’s easy to be heavy and hard to be light.  It’s easy to pick out the negative aspects of a situation, but it’s actually really hard to take a tough situation and put a positive spin on it.  It’s easy to be a pessimist and hard to be an optimist.  It’s easy to give up but really hard to keep moving forward (sometimes against the odds).  Creating happiness for oneself actually takes effort.  It requires a certain degree of selflessness, a whole lot of patience, and an enormous amount of inner strength.

And these are just some of the things I jotted down.  While everyone’s happiness journey is unique to them, I do think this book has a little something for everyone.

Let me know if you decide to check it out!  And Happy Monday!

Have you read The Happiness Project? Thoughts?  Any other books I should add to my list?

By Parita

28 thoughts on “Book Review: The Happiness Project”
  1. I love that One Minute Rule and trying to remind myself about it regularly…especially as I tend to be a huge procrastinator! I actually really love all these tips and couldn’t help but nod in agreement as I kept reading…you do you and I’ll do me. It’s such a simple piece of advice but holds so much truth! Hope you had a fab, and happy, time in Orlando 🙂

  2. I like the ‘be Parita’ rule! Will try this on ‘Sarah’. Nice post 🙂 Will be in touch soon, hope you like the look of some of the ideas coming your way! Almost there, Sarah

  3. This was the first book I read of 2012 and I loved it! It made me go into a frenzy of wanting to clean out closets and keep a positive outlook on my life. I loved the book and I also loved her second book about being happy in the home!

    1. I’ll have I check out her other book. I didn’t know if I’d be able to relate to her, but I found her honest assessments and humorous writing really fun to read.

  4. I’ve started this book so many times but i just could never get into it. I think I might do better with an audiobook version for a long trip. I really want to read it!

  5. I’ve heard of this book, but haven’t read it. It sounds very in line with my views of happiness though! It definitely does take work!

  6. Sounds like a good book and will definitely get a hold of it soon. Thanks for reviewing and sharing your views on it.

  7. I was waiting for your review on this book, looks like it really helped you. OMG.. I do the same thing after work, I wanna toss my clothes on my bed to air out, but then I’m like let me just hang what needs to be hung and put the rest in the hamper. Definitely try to take care of those minute things.. cause I like my room/home clean. Great post!!!

  8. I’ve started this book countless times but had such a hard time getting into it. I really love the idea behind it, but feel like every time I pick it up there’s just SO many things that I get a little overwhelmed and end up putting it down again. I definitely love the one minute rule, though. I find myself a lot less stressed out when I gradually do things right away instead of letting them build up and doing them all at once.

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I wanted to share my big takeaways versus just an overview. And trust me, I could’ve said a lot more!! This book had a lot to offer.

  9. I’m not sure why but I could not get into this book…I think I am too impatient. LOL. Which is why I need this book!

    Good tips. Sounds like I should give it another go.

  10. Oh man, I’m so guilty of throwing my clothes on the ground every day. And then on the weekend, I have a giant mound of clothes to put away (which takes WAY more than one minute). I’m definitely implementing this rule asap 🙂

  11. i just saw this book at anthropologie…so i bought a copy. i haven’t started it yet but definitely want to after reading your review! looking forward to finding my own happiness =)

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