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, Paperback Book

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 Paperback

4 out of 5 (28 ratings)


Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany. One rainy afternoon on a city bus, she realised that she wasn't as happy as she could be.

In danger of wasting her days - always yearning for something more, waiting for problems to miraculously solve themselves - she realized her life wasn't going to change unless she did something about it.

On January 1, she embarked on her Happiness Project, and each month she pursued a different set of resolutions: to get more sleep, quit nagging her husband, sing in the morning to her two young daughters, start a blog, imitate a spiritual master, keep a one-sentence journal.

She immersed herself in everything from classical philosophy to contemporary psychology to see what worked for her-and what didn't.

Illuminating yet entertaining, profound yet compulsively readable, "The Happiness Project" is one of the most thoughtful and prescriptive works on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject.

Filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and humor, her story will inspire readers to navigate their own paths to happiness.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages, black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Self-help & personal development
  • ISBN: 9780061583261

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Showing 1 - 5 of 28 reviews.

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Review by

Some of the chapters were most intriguing, esp. the January and September. Personally, I think this is unrealistic to try to tackle so much in one year. Many of the girls in book club agreed with this assessment. We also felt that it would be interesting to give it to our daughters and have them read it and then compare our reactions. This book has many good ideas and I would like to tackle a few of them. I just think that overwhelming oneself can also bring unhappiness. We all agreed that everyone's happiness project will be different and the plan has to be tailored for each and every person.

Review by

This is the first book I read to our undercover library cat, Agatha Christie. Agatha spends her time hiding in a cabinet and through this book, I learned that she relaxes when I read to her. Rubin is a methodical person and she approaches happiness scientifically. She tackles different parts of her life in each chapter and sees what happens if she applies some theories of happiness to them. She is remarkably honest and I and Agatha found this a very entertaining and though provoking book. Agatha is very serious and I don't think she has applied any of Rubin's strategies to her feline existence.

Review by

Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, is a quirky half memoir half self-help book on happiness. It falls a little into the category of "The Reality Television of Books: When People Write Gimicky Stuff"; however, this doesn't mean that the book is crap, rather, it's quite the opposite.This is Rubin's month-by-month quest to bring happiness into her life. She tackles different areas of her life every month, and, while doing so, goes about opening herself up to new experiences while being true to her own self-interest. Rubin's thesis, that is possible to be more happy, is proven throughout, and, as Rubin discovers, her own personal happiness creates more contentment in the lives of her family and friends.Rubin's quest for happiness caused me to reflect on how I turn happiness away from my own life. Can be snarky? Check. Is overly sarcastic and scathing? Check. Avoids doing new things? Check. This list could go on and on. Are these things that I should avoid doing? Perhaps. Maybe I'll give my own happiness project (which Rubin pushes on her blog) a whirl, and see the damage (ha ha) that it does.It was interesting to see that Rubin cites numerous sources. I liked that there were quotes from people like Saumel Pepys and the Dalai Lama. Doing research on how other people interpret happiness and on what brings them happiness is necessary for this type of project. It helps to bring deeper meaning to Rubin's work, and also helps to avoid this book from becoming a trite self-assertion. So yes, I liked this book. I'd recommend this book to others. Rubin's style of writing is easy-to-follow,. The book is engaging and perfectly suits the sunniness of spring. It's not a Pulitzer Prize winner, but it is still very good and very happy.

Review by

Lots of food for thought and not too preachy.very interesting given that she has all the things to make her happy-money,family,satisfying work - but still makes a lot of sense about how to increase contentment.

Review by

I know, I know. This is not my usual YA fare. This book is on my list because M sent me a link to Rubin’s blog forever ago when I was contemplating the original purpose of my blog and my 101 in 1001 List. I kind of just tossed it onto the pile of things I would read later. And then there was law school.Law school is not inherently depressing. I know, you’re shocked. The media (and our 1L teachers) want us all to believe that law school is the pits of despair. We work, we slave, we read cases long into the night, we screw up in front of all our peers when we answer things in class. But I think law school also increases the highs too. When you nail a question or find out that you’re going to the Canary Islands in Spain to be an intern at a law firm (more about that on Sunday!!!), or see that one fact in the brief that you’re pretty sure no one else sees, you feel like the SUPREME RULER OF THE UNIVERSE. Of course, these extreme swings in emotions could also just be the by-product of living on less sleep than humans are normally accustomed to. But I digress.The point is, I was looking to up my happiness. I had accepted my normal swings of highs and lows, but I figured that if I focused on the highs, I would be better overall. So I read the book.Once I was about half-way through, I went to lunch with my mentor, who is an older student at my school and is graduating this Spring. We must have been talking about books, but all I remember is that she gushed, “Oh you should read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin! You know she was a law clerk on the Supreme Court?” I took this as a sign. The Universe, God, Serendipity, whatever-you’d-like-to-call-it was telling me that this book was a good thing.I was really fond of the book. I think Rubin is ridiculously insightful, and her Personal Commandments are so simple, yet streamlined and efficient. My favorite of these Commandments is “Be Gretchen,” which is Rubin’s way of remembering to be herself. She talks about having to accept that she will never be a person who likes brandy or cigars, who goes out to jazz clubs or is admired for her chic wardrobe. She had to admit to herself that she just didn’t like those things. The way she talked about letting go of the possibilities and accepting her real likes and dislikes spoke to me. It’s what I tried to do all last year with my List. Yes, in the name of self-improvement I can floss every night (even though I’m not especially fond of it), but why would I sit through 9 hours of Godfather movies when I’d rather be decorating my bathroom? Or watching British tv? I wish I could be a cinephile– with all the class and culture that implies– but it’s just not me. I want to be entertained if I’m taking the time to watch a movie, not educated or pushed (which is why I recently re-watched Desperado and possibly won’t see Black Swan before it’s on Netflix).Along the “know yourself” line: this is a book for Type A people. I think in order to truly benefit from the methods described in the book you need to be a list-oriented, organized person. But it’s also possible that I just think that way because I strive to be that way. Rubin’s blog has an awful lot of followers, and the disparate excerpts of blog comments she has reprinted in the book lead me to believe they can’t all be Type A personalities.Rubin is aware that people aren’t perfect. She doesn’t try to make you perfect— just maybe mindful of how your actions affect your mood and the mood of others around you. Um… right. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have to go make M a cup of tea and apologize for being snappy this morning.

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