Those are the first few lines of Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. For those of you who know me, you may be sick of hearing me go on and on about this, or I may have already converted you as a happiness project lover. OR, this may be the first time you’re hearing about it! Whichever of these describes you, please read on and learn or remember the amazingness of this book!
Part memoir, part self-help, part life guidebook, The Happiness Project is an amazing work that is all about enhancing one’s love of life, and becoming happier, which is what Tarreyn Land is all about! Because it was a major catalyst in encouraging me to create this blog as well as change many things in my life for the better, I felt it was important to write about this book for the first edition of “Buzz.”
The basic premise is this: Gretchen Rubin, a happily married author and mother living in New York decided that while she was generally happy, she suffered from “midlife malaise – a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief.” With the abrupt decision to tackle this feeling and improve her life, Rubin decided to dedicate an entire year trying to be happier. To do this, she created a list of dozens of different kinds of resolutions and applied one to every month of the year. Some examples of her monthly goals would be to “boost energy” in January, “aim higher” in March, or “pursue a passion” in September. In the first month, she resolved to focus on only those resolutions, then in February added the next set, and by December she was working on a whole year’s worth of resolutions.
As a reader, what make’s Rubin’s journey so compelling is that she is incredibly relatable and accessible. Throughout the book she maintains an incredibly strong stance on the belief that what makes someone happy is different for everyone, and allows for easy individualization of every step and idea. In fact, her first personal commandment is to “Be Gretchen,” or be yourself. She offers incredibly helpful advice without any pretense or condescension, and her writing style is solid, friendly and relaxed.
Rubin has done her research, and the reader strongly benefits from that. Before and during her adventure to find more bliss, she did tons of investigation on happiness, gaining information and perspectives from philosophers, scientists, theologians, historians, and even her friends, family and blog readers. You get the benefits of the knowledge without having to look beyond this book (however in my experience a lot of people who connect with the book choose to do further research on their own). The information resonates, and you will find yourself applying it to your life almost instantaneously. You may find yourself hugging people for longer after you discover that a hug must last at least 6 seconds to fully release mood-boosting chemicals. Or, you might finally organize that hallway closet that’s been nagging you for a year because you’ve learned that outer and inner calm directly connect.
Certain chapters are more relatable than others, but then again what I found extremely helpful might be useless for others, and vice-versa. For me, a not very religious or spiritual person, the chapter on contemplating the heavens was not nearly as helpful as the one on being serious about play. However, in keeping with the theme of being yourself, this is great because it allows you to hone in further on what you do or don’t connect with, or what does and doesn’t make you happy.
Along with her resolutions, another important feature of the book is the foundation for the project that consisted of several components: a list of personal commandments, secrets of adulthood, recommended reading, myths and paradoxes about happiness and a happiness manifesto. All of these are available on her blog¸ where she also provides you with the tools to start your own happiness project, set your own resolutions, and more. Another great feature of the website that I highly recommend is to sign up for daily moment of happiness emails. These moments are sent every weekday morning and are a quote on happiness of some sort from countless people in history and society. I’m a big fan of quotes, and I love waking up and starting my day on the right foot by reading them.
The only complaint I have about the website is that there is SOO much information and SOO many things to look at and do, that it can be really overwhelming, even for someone like me who has visited frequently. But if you take a deep breath and spend some time looking around, I think you will be excited about it too!
I am naturally an incredibly happy person, but this book helped change my outlook on life, and improved my behavior on an overwhelming level. Aristotle described happiness as summum bonum, the chief good. He also said that “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” I couldn’t agree more. The Happiness Project can help you reach the chief good through countless suggestions and ideas. Clear clutter, reduce nagging your partner, have more energy, improve your work, “find more fun”, enjoy now, help your relationship with yourself and others, and so much more. I know I’m emphatic about this, but finding your passion is all part of the experience!I encourage you all to buy the book, look to her website, and start your very own happiness project. As Rubin says: “Whenever you read this, and wherever you are, you are in the right place to begin.”