Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Happiness Project

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 by Gretchen Rubin
Published by Harper Collins
5th June 2011
Paperback Edition



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 clam; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.


The Happiness Project Manifesto

  • To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
  • 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.
  • The days are long, but the years are short.
  • You're not happy unless you think you're happy.
  • Your body matters.
  • Happiness is other people.
  • Think about yourself so you can forget yourself.
  • "It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light." - G. K. Chesterton
  • What's fun for other people may not be fun for you, and vice versa.
  • Best is good, better is best.
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm.
  • Happiness comes from not having more, not from having less, but from wanting what you have.
  • You can choose what you do, but you can't choose what you like to do.
  • "There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy." - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • You manage what you measure.
  • Loving actions inspire loving feelings.
  • The opposite of a great truth is also true.


I've been wanting to read The Happiness Project for a while now after hearing about it from some source now since forgotten, so I jumped at the chance of a review copy when I saw that Harper Collins 360 were bringing it out to the UK.  Some self-help books can be a bit preachy, telling you what you are doing wrong in order to improve your life.  I didn't find Gretchen Rubin to be like this at all.  It's her project, her test.  She reads the theory behind it, and gives it a go. 
The book is divided into a chapter a month, and each one focuses on a different aspect, for example, Chapter 4 - April is called Lighten Up and is about making things more fun around the children, and the morning school run less stressful.  I did try out her 'sing in the morning' theory yesterday.  We got to school without a single cross word said, though the children were begging me to stop singing by the tine we got to school!

This is a book you can easily dip in and out of, and is full of useful tips and suggestions.  I do actually feel better after reading each chapter, and think yes, I must do this.  Then the old habits slip in and I sometimes forget.  But overall, I think Rubin has a certain something about how to be happy that is well worth considering.


Happy Reading


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