Book review: Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project’

Slightly away from the travel genre, this is a book that has been on my amazon wish list for years but I only recently got around to buying.

DSC_0311(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.)

The Happiness Project is a year memoir by Gretchen Rubin, who had an epiphany one day whilst on a bus, and realised that “The days are long but the years are short.” and decided to dedicate a year to learning about happiness and focusing on the things that brought joy into her life.

Sounds a bit kooky, right? I LOVED it.

I found the book so inspiring, and I realised that in doing my 25 new things before I turn 25, I’m essentially already on my own Happiness Project.

Things I learnt from reading the book:

  • We are hardwired to absorb bad experiences more readily that a good experience. For example, if you were to loose £100, you’d be more upset than you would be happy if you found £100. Therefore we should always strive to appreciate the good things.
  • Taking notes is a good idea. Rubin dedicated a chapter to books and wrote about how she always takes notes when reading. I thought what a good idea! I’ve always got my nose in a book but I really struggle to remember what happens in the novels I’ve read. I decided to start a diary. Partly in preparation for keeping a travel journal, but also so that I can write down quotes and remember things from books that have inspired me. I’ll also use it to document my own sort of happiness project.

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(Look, I already started!)

  • Tackling a nagging task is such a satisfying thing to do. I’ve made a list of them and I’m beginning to cross them off. Bliss.
  • There’s also something wonderful about clearing out. It feels like such a relief to get rid of unused clothes and clutter.
  • There were a few seething reviews on Goodreads, stating that the Happiness Project is introspective and selfish, doesn’t benefit the starving children in India etc etc… but
  • “One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy. And one of the best ways to make other people happy myself.” – So striving to be happy isn’t as selfish as they made out.

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In other happiness news, I’ve been listening to “Hardwiring Happiness” on audible. It goes into the psychology of what makes us happy, and teaches how we can take in the good. Interesting.

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