READ or DON'T Read - A Book Review in Miniature of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

In the past I've done monthly summaries of the books I've read and that's been fun... but when a month slips by and I haven't done much reading it seems a little embarrassing to have a a grand "monthly list" that consists of... two books.  ;P  So, I'm trying out posting book reviews on a more "as I read them" basis... if you have thoughts on the new format, be sure to let me know!

Part of my Read / Don't Read Book Reviews in Miniature series, I give you my thoughts and take-aways from Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project -- should you spend your time reading this combination self-help memoir?? via Devastate BoredomThe Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Self-help, memoir
READ, if you're a human being

New York journalist and author decides to spend a year researching and experimenting on different ways to "be happier," highlighting her month-by-month progress, struggles, and conclusions.

I LOVED Rubin's emphasis on mindfulness and proactivity -- two of her foundational tenants are that people should become aware of what makes us happy, and should actively seek out ways to improve our day-to-day.  Rubin tackled a different "area of 


life" each month, from marriage and parenting, to physical well-being, to friendships, to money, and so-on.  If you don't find helpful tips and ideas in one section, you almost definitely will in another section -- her advice is practical, and moreover not overly-generalized... she recognizes that you might not like what she is saying.  Part of her whole philosophy of happiness is that what makes one person happy won't necessarily make other people happy (for example, throughout her whole "Project" she refuses steadfastly to try meditation, despite the many people urging it on her as a prime source of happiness).


Some of my favorite take-aways from the book include:

  • "Happiness doesn't always make us FEEL happy" (ie, that steps taken towards a happy, full life often include dealing with unhappy, uncomfortable needs and issues.  Going to the gym might not make you FEEL happy, it might make you feel sore and exasperated, but the resulting health will contribute greatly to your happiness long-term.

  • Personalizing "Twelve Commandments," "Splendid Truths," and "Secrets of Adulthood" for yourself -- guidelines that make certain situations simple, because you have established rules for how to act, or codified ideas of what is important to you and what you want to be overarching themes in your life.  Figuring out what these would be for yourself is SUCH a helpful exercise!

  • "Growth" is key -- it's hard to feel happy if you feel stuck.  But if you can see the ways you're progressing, even if it is slow and laborious, you will feel happier.  In other words, a challenging situation can be happier than an easy "stuck" one, IF you can see yourself growing in the midst of the struggles.

This is kind of one of those books that everyone will get SOMETHING out of... and if you come away with even one small revelation or important clue towards increased happiness in your life, I tend to think it's worth the read!

If you've already read The Happiness Project, I'd love to know your thoughts!  What "aha!" moments have stayed with you??

PS, huge thanks to my friend Ashlee over at My Life in Snippets for encouraging me to read this one!  I enjoyed it so much that I've already started on Rubin's second book, Happier at Home!  ;P 


READ or DON'T Read?? Series, Book Reviews in Miniature! The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, a short review by Devastate Boredom



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47 comments

  1. Will be adding that one to my reading list.

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    1. Awesome! Be sure to let me know what you think, Nikki! :)

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  2. Love the thought about the gym. I feel that way every tie i go, but feel so much better when I am finished.

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    1. Meeeeee toooooo.... but it's nice to kind of "define" the phenomenon. ;P Coming by to check out your blog!

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  3. I love the idea that happiness doesn't always produce immediate "happiness" but the long term goals lead to a happy life :)

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    1. Yes, I think it's so helpful to have that framework... what she says more literally is that we have to think "about feeling good and feeling bad, in an atmosphere of growth"... the idea of actively thinking through, "Hmmmmm what makes me feel frustrated and upset? How can I address those things head-on and make them less of an issue?" was really helpful to me. I tend to procrastinate on the things I'm dreading... ;P Time to start a better habit!

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  4. I'd seen this book somewhere in passing, but had no clue what it was about, so I'm glad you reviewed it. I'm a big memoir nut, so I'm sure I'll like it, just based on that, but I really liked what you shared about how she stresses that what makes one person happy won't always make others happy...which kind of goes back to what I've said before on my blog about birth methods and how important it is to find what's natural for you. Off to reserve it now!

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    1. So true, that's a good parallel! We'll have to compare notes after you finish reading it, Lisa. :)

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  5. Read if you're a human!! Bwahahaha! Love it!

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  6. I read the book and liked it. I think that many people need to find things they like instead of letting society tell them what they should like.

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    1. Yes, I completely agree! People forget to tune in to what actually makes THEM happy. Or maybe we get so busy watching TV that we forget...

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  7. I've read this book a couple of times and each time got something new from it, I'm nearly tempted to read it a third time after seeing your review! In particular I thought Rubin was quite brave and self-aware in her recognition of her weaknesses and they were flaws I could relate to: “Bogged down in petty complaints and passing crises, weary of struggling with my own nature, I too often failed to comprehend the splendor of what I had.” Yes, that’s me too!!

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    1. Completely agree Robyn! She was very honest -- and reading other people's inner-dialogs can make me more aware of mine too sometimes...

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  8. I think this was one of the first books that made me realize that happiness was intentional and not a product of our circumstances. It helped open my eyes to a whole new approach to happiness.

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    1. Yes, Leanne, I agree completely -- making happiness something to be considered and sought actively is such a different approach. :)

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  9. I loved this book, but it was a while ago so I don't remember the specifics ;-)

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    1. It's a good one! Thanks for coming by Janet. :)

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  10. Interesting review. I have always thought about reading this. Makes me want to put it on my definite list.

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    1. Do it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!! Following you on google+ now...

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  11. I love this. It's kinda the motto I try to live by. When you focus on the good, what you focus on grows, so there is more good. You have to look for it, recognize it, and be grateful for it. Soon the good will always outweigh the bad, because you're not looking for the bad. So it gets shoved out of your mind, there is no room for it. I'm going to look for this book, thanks for the review. I've Pinned and Stumbled, everyone needs to know how to find their "happy place"!

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    1. Thanks a ton Nikki! Yes, you've summed up another one of the points in Rubin's book actually, haha! You have to "think" you're happy before you're happy. You can have everything in the world going for you, but if you don't know you're happy, you aren't. Funny how that works, isn't it??

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  12. I had heard of the Happiness Project, but no details. This is really interesting and worth checking out. Thank you so much for sharing...I never would have dug any deeper and realized how useful this is. #WAYWOW

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    1. Thanks for coming by Regina! I do definitely think it's worth a read. :)

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  13. I have this latest book on my TBR and I also read The Happiness Project. It was one of the first books I read with a journal so I could write down my thoughts as I was going through it.
    http://runwright.net

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    1. You're brilliant, this is a perfect book to read with a journal... going to have to try to make a point of doing that soon! :)

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  14. Added it to my "To Read" list, sounds like a very practical book!!

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    1. Practical and enjoyable too, it never felt like "heavy" reading. Definitely check it out Samantha! :)

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  15. I must get this book - thank you for sharing to Pin Worthy Wednesday Sarah

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  16. Awesome review, Sarah! Sounds like a wonderful book! We were neighbors today at Booknificent Thursday! Hope you are having an amazing week :)

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    1. Thanks Kelly! I'll have to go check out what book you linked up too!!

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  17. I loved this book! It was a while ago that I read it but the big thing I remember is that you feel more rewarded from the harder challenges in your life - this means to me to not always take the easy path!

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    1. That's a great take-away Becci! So true. :)

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  18. Sounds like we both have been on the same wavelength this wee. I am adding to my goodreads list!

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  19. I have not read the original book. However, a few years ago, my oldest daughter, knowing how much I struggled to get through life's little turmoils, gave me for Christmas The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal, a five-year record, in which I am to search through each day for at least ONE good thing that happened and to note it in the journal. I am in my third year of journaling. Smiles, Linda at Paper Seedlings

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  20. Although I think Rubin is WAY too afraid of food and seems to consider it her enemy, I am a big fan of her happiness project. As as a lover of all things home and family, I especially enjoyed her sequel, "Happier At Home." Lots of practical ways to up your family's happiness factor. :) Stopping by from Friday Frivolity! ;)

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  21. I liked this book and I agree with you that there is something almost anyone could take away from it. This book reminds me to think about what I am doing and why, and made me think about being more present to enjoy things in the moment.

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  22. I read this a while back and this makes me want to re-read it. It was truly a motivating book for me!

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  23. Definitely sounds like a book I should read. Im feeling a bit lost at the moment. #teamIBOT

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  24. I really enjoyed The Happiness Project, but you HAVE to read Rubin's Better Than Before! I'll admit that it's a lot fresher in my mind, but I had so many take aways from that book about habit formation that it has really changed my life for the good.

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  25. I read this a few years ago and really liked it. Let go of pettyness and be proactive on what's important and you're more likely to be happy!

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  26. I love the sound of this! Too often the genre is full of people saying you *must* do this, when you're thinking ugh, no. Lol. I like that the focus is on what's going to make *you* happy.

    I know what you mean about monthly book summaries too - I've started doing one but so far this month I've not finished a book... #FridayFrivolity

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  27. I listened to this book on Audible. I really like the part where she quits "keeping score" - expecting her husband to match her "good deed" for "good deed" or needing a gold star for everything she does. Good lesson for me!

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  28. I enjoy your writing style regardless of format, but I think did enjoy the longer lists more just because it was so funny to have you go from "read if you're human" to " read only if you have no life." :)

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

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  29. I have not read this book but it sounds like a real page turner. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

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  30. Visiting you a second time to thank you for linking up at the Friday Funday Blog Hop #FFBH! :)

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