The Happiness Project — Book Review

The Happiness Project Book CoverI took 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, by Gretchen Rubin, on a plane trip to visit friends in Florida.

The title both attracted and repelled me. On the one hand, I appreciate and value happiness and was interested in reading an entire book on the subject. On the other hand, I wondered if the book would be about one woman’s self-indulgent quest.

Book Review

The book covers Rubin’s year-long happiness journey. The text is interspersed with quotes and snippets of research. Like any good project manager, Rubin created a plan and interviewed stakeholders (family and friends) before beginning The Happiness Project book.

Since The Happiness Project was a year-long project, it is logical to have the book broken into monthly chapters on various happiness topics/resolutions. This also dovetails with the beginning of the year and making resolutions. Projects require a tracking tool to measure progress, and Rubin created the Resolution Chart to track her progress. The 12 chapters are:

  • 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: Attitude
  • December – Boot Camp Perfect: Happiness

Rubin established her list of 12 commandments to guide her journey and decision making. They included items like, “Be Gretchen,” “Do it now,” “Enjoy the process,” and “There is only love.” Another list entitled “Secrets of Adulthood” reads like a collection of Rubin’s guidelines to live by mixed with common sense.

The back of the book contains tips that include, “9 tips to stick to a schedule of regular exercise,” and “7 tips for being a more light-hearted parent.” A section provides readers with ideas on how to start a happiness project. I especially appreciated the suggested reading list of books on happiness related topics.

The Bottom Line

Rubin delivered a thoughtful and entertaining narrative on what she views as the facets of happiness. She shared her happiness philosophy through her own experiences and showed her strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. How many of us would be willing to do that? At times, I must admit to wondering how her family felt or will feel in the future about having their lives displayed in the book.

A companion to the book, The Happiness Project website contains Rubins’s blog, videos, tips, and resources to help people start their own happiness projects.

Rubin has advantages that many people don’t but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate the information and concepts in the book. Readers are free to take away ideas that resonate with them and leave the rest.

I enjoyed the book and passed it onto a friend.

Related Posts


Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information and to spark conversation. Her mission is to live more lightly on Earth and to persuade everyone else to do the same.

One thought on “The Happiness Project — Book Review”

  1. This little video linked below is a great collection of quotes that really resonates with me. Perhaps the “Environmental” angle to all this is that the constant, ever increasing amassing of material things and resources isn’t actually the basis for happiness?

    Perhaps being part of and making contributions to a “thing” greater than ourselves is in fact the “meaning of life”?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.