Monday, October 28, 2013

ReView of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin

Genre: Psychology
Format: Paperback
Length: 292 pages
Publisher: Harper
First Published: 2009

I looked at this book for a long time.  The title always kind of deterred me from even touching it.  It's too obvious, too explicit.  And a project! Who buys a book for a project, in the pyschology and self-improvement section?  In any case, I read this book as part of the Top Ten Happiness Books to read.
"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 of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as Julie and Julia,The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she 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.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her—and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising—she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference—and they range from the practical to the profound.

Written with charm and wit, The Happiness Project is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project."
This wasn't too long of a read for me. The begining and the end of the book are actually really useful.  The middle not so much.  It's because I took issue with the approach, but that's just me.  She chose one subject to tackle each month.  January: Boost Energy Vitality, February: Remember Love Marriage, March: Aim Higher Work, April: Lighten Up Parenthood, May: Be Serious About Play Leisure, June: Make Time for Friends Friendship, July: Buy Some Happiness Money, August: Contemplate the Heavens Eternity, September: Pursue a Passion Books, October: Pay Attention Mindfulness, November: Keep a Contented Heart Attitute, December: Boot Camp Perfect Happiness. If these subject happen to be one in which you're trying to work through, this book is perfect to open exactly to that chapter and read about it.  But if you're trying to find an overall perspective on how to structure yourself with the right and consistent perspective to get more joy out of life, this is probably not the one.

Like I said, though, the beginning and the end of the book actually do have some value towards that kind of wisdom.  The book says that if you're at the edge of your life in the turmoil of loosing everything you have, your temper, and within bouts of melancholy and sadness, you should redefine the way you life your life to begin to live with more gratitude and ease.

It talks about what you can be as a result of being a happier person - "a more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier."  Being happy is also about feeling prepared for adversity, for those moments when we least expect for our darkest moments to arrive.

Gretchen ends with the best widsom of life, to know ourselves and to be the best version for ourselves.  To always be true to who we are.  A lot of people run away from who they really are their whole lives.  Some people escape every bit of opportunity to know their true selves and stay true to that.  Once you truly face that chance to know yourself, you form a foundation of your character that leads you to happier, truer style of life.

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