Monday, June 7, 2010

Whatcha reading? The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Lately, I have been reading a lot of books centered on a one year project. The author takes on a project and mindfully does it for one year. Topics have included: living biblically, not buying anything made in China, or following all of Oprah’s advice. This book centered on being happy. I found it to be an interesting concept.

Rubin takes on this with a singular focus. She researches the idea of happiness through literature, ancient texts and modern studies. She lays out a series of commandments that will guide the project overall. Then she designates a theme for each month and a set of resolutions under that theme. I found both the process and her individual resolutions to be inspiring.

In particular, one of her commandments really caught my attention. It was “Be Gretchen”. The idea behind this is that we should actually be who we are instead of who we wish to be or think we should be. I definitely fall into this trap. I have an entire shelf of projects that I think I should do or think I would really enjoy: learn to make cheese, learn to calligraphy, 2 years of calendars and the picture frames I should use to frame them, or stacks of articles featuring amazing arts and crafts projects. Here’s the fact of the matter: I don’t like arts and crafts and I don’t have the patience to teach myself a new skill. I download jazz because smart, educated people like jazz. I never listen to it. I put documentaries in my Netflix queue, receive it, let it sit on the counter for a month and then send it back. Rubin’s point is why? This is not you. Pursuing all these projects is taking away time from doing what really fulfills you. What a liberating concept!

I highly recommend this book. I originally borrowed the book from the library, but now I am going to buy it and keep it on the shelf as a reference and source of ongoing inspiration. Rubin also has a website where she provides weekly resolutions and guidance so you can do your own Happiness Project.

What do you think?  Can you make yourself happy just by focusing on being happy?


  1. I saw the nice mention of my book, The Happiness Project, here! I very much appreciate those kind words and you shinning a spotlight on my work!! Thanks and best wishes,

  2. I'm heading to the library today...I hope they have this book. Sounds inspiring...I like the idea of "being myself". I have a dining room table full of sewing projects because "moms should sew" and I'm constantly going to playdates instead of staying home with my kids because it's what other people want....thanks for the recommendation!

  3. I have heard of this book as well and want to read it. I agree that we should just be ourselves and enjoy reality tv!