The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): 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

Paperback, 2015




Harper Paperbacks (2015), Edition: Revised, 368 pages


A thoughtful and prescriptive work on happiness filled with practical advice, sharp insight, charm, and humor. On the outside, Gretchen Rubin had it all--a good marriage, healthy children and a successful career--but something was missing. Determined to end that nagging feeling, she set out on a year-long quest to learn how to better enjoy the life she already had. Each month, Gretchen pursued a different set of resolutions--go to sleep earlier, tackle a nagging task, bring people together, take time to be silly. She read everything from classical philosophy to cutting-edge scientific studies, from Winston Churchill to Oprah, developing her own definition of happiness and a plan for how to achieve it. She kept track of which resolutions worked and which didn't, sharing her stories and collecting those of others. Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life. With a wicked sense of humour and sharp insight, Gretchen's story will inspire readers to embrace the pleasure in their lives.--From publisher description.… (more)


½ (942 ratings; 3.6)

Media reviews

A fun, funny and wise book written by Gretchen Rubin, a regular contributor, it's a distillation of the wisdom of the ages on happiness. It provides eminently practical ways to amplify your happiness pretty much immediately (e.g. gossip less; exercise more; launch a pet
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I had fun reading about Rubin's triumphs, insights, and failures. She's honest about her frustrating experiences, which are often more interesting that her successful ones.
If you are interested in clarifying your reasons to become uncluttered, are looking to be happier, or simply enjoy the genre of “a year in the life” style books, I recommend checking out The Happiness Project. It’s a great reminder for not letting the joys of life pass you by.

User reviews

LibraryThing member amandamay83
I'm really quite torn as to what I feel about this book. On one hand, I did mostly enjoy it and I took from it some helpful ideas. On the other hand....some of the negative reviews of this book make some very good points.

1.) I really am growing weary of the "stunt" genre of books. Do something for
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a year, write a book about it. It was interesting the first few go-rounds, but it's losing its appeal.

2.) The author really is not particularly likeable. Maybe she's nicer in person, but she casts herself as a bit of a shrew. As I was reading through the marriage chapter (chapter 2, perhaps?), all I could think was, "Good God, I'm glad I'm not married to her." She strikes me as nagging, unpleasant, and intent upon bringing everyone down to make herself feel better. I suppose she gets points for honestly, but not for much else. (And what's with her emailing her husband throughout the day, and then getting snippy because he doesn't respond? Is she his mother? Does he need to check in with her regularly? I found this especially bizarre.)

3.) She is without a doubt a woman of a certain privilege. I suspect she came from money and she certainly married into it. It's all well and good to tell me to take time for myself, take classes, exercise more, etc... I understand she's right about these things. But as a single, working mother, my life is vastly different from hers. Not everyone has the time, money, and other resources readily available to her. This is not to say that I gleaned nothing from this book, but I just can't imagine that many people would find her very relateable.

4.) She really doesn't say anything new. I think we all already know most of her "epiphanies": money may not buy happiness, but it certainly makes it easier; regular exercise makes you happier; hobbies, friends, and a social life will make you happier; etc... While her conscious effort to do all these things (in a year, natch) is perhaps unique, not much of the information contained herein is.

5.) I felt like a fairly big chunk of this book was devoted to quoting comments from her blog. I also feel like these quotes were not separated from her writing very clearly. Perhaps it was a problem unique to the Kindle version, but several times I found myself wondering, "Is this Gretchen or someone else?"

Over all, I wish I could give the book 2.5 stars. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. It was ok. I can't say that I regret reading it, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it to a friend, either.
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LibraryThing member sanyamakadi
There was a lot of good stuff in the book, and the writing was very casual and easy to read. There were some small annoyances (e.g. waaaaaay too many pages were covered with paragraph-long quotes from the comment section of her blog), and one really big one. The first couple months focus on her
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actions and her marriage, and her main resolution was to stop "nagging," i.e. stop asking and expecting her husband to take an active role in the mental load of parenthood and marriage, and if she wanted tasks done it was better to just do them herself than ask someone else for support. My feminist heart cringed every time she accused herself of "nagging" or "needing gold stars" i.e. some acknowledgement for her work in keeping the house and marriage running. Telling women to take on more and expect less from their partners is NOT the key to happiness, and I shutter to think of how many women have read her book and felt like they just needed to change their own expectations of support and partnership, and just take on more, to be happier.
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LibraryThing member sarah-e
This is not a book I would leave sitting on my shelf. It should be given to a friend, as a gentle reminder that we could all appreciate life more. Less than 12 hours after finishing this book I passed it to my mom. I marked the passage I thought she should start with.

The writing is excellent. The
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book is readable and entertaining. What I got out of it surprised me. I don’t usually read self-help type books, and I wasn’t sure I would find a lot of meaning in it. The book is so enjoyable that I didn’t even realize how it was changing the way I looked at my life.

The first thing I began to notice was my negativity. I’m not angry or generally a naysayer, but I can be less than encouraging. Even in positive situations, I can say the wrong thing. This book showed me what the right things to say would be, and I began to see how I could use them.

The big breakthrough this book gave me was the realization that I get to give myself permission to be me. To like what I like, to value what I value, to not do what I don’t want to do. I had taken a baby step in this direction by deciding that if I didn’t like a book, I could put it down without picking up guilt. It was refreshing to read that what I was doing was being myself.

Reframing was a new concept to me. It works like this: you come home from vacation and have a huge pile of laundry to do. Instead of saying that you hate doing laundry, it’s such a drag to do laundry; you tell yourself you like doing laundry. It’s like smiling when you’re unhappy - even if it’s fake, it’s a proven technique to making yourself feel better. I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but I can’t wait.
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LibraryThing member bearette24
This is the (nonfiction) story of Gretchen Rubin's quest for happiness. Rubin was previously a lawyer, and it shows. She engages in painstaking research and clearly documents her findings. It makes for less than spellbinding prose, but her discoveries are worth reading.
LibraryThing member debnance
What better book for me to read today, the first day of a new year, a new decade?I’ve been waiting and waiting for this book to be published. I first heard about it when I kept getting snippets in the wonderful Google e-mail I receive every day about items of interest about happiness. I love
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happiness. I’m fascinated with happiness. I suppose you could say that just thinking about happiness makes me happy. So I couldn’t wait to read this book.It was not a disappointment. I’ve been reading the author’s blog about the project on an almost daily basis, so the book felt, well, a little short. But that is okay. It was a good book. It gives readers lots of lovely ideas about how to be happier. Even if you just try one idea and it works for you, I’d say that would be worth the price of the book.I resolve to use these ideas and try them myself. I’m going to read through the book one more time and this time I’ll write down a few notes.
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LibraryThing member monzrocks
I followed the author's blog about the same subject for quite a long time. I felt there was a lot of overlap between the blog and the book, so maybe someone new to the subject might find the book more interesting.

Overall, it's a light read, and not especially gripping since there is no real story
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arc (happy person trying to be happier). Still, there are interesting concepts to think about that are presented and it will almost certainly make you think about how you would be happier.
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LibraryThing member jescat
This book came very highly recommended, so I'd been meaning to check it out for awhile. Unfortunately, I had a hard time slogging through it. In the end, I think it's nothing to do with the author or the content, it's just that what makes Gretchen Rubin happy and how she goes about doing it is very
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opposite of my temperament. She's kind of type A and goes about things in a very methodical, academic sort of way. She creates a Resolutions Chart and gives herself gold stars when she meets her goals, which she says is very motivating to her. Classic good girl, straight A student behavior. If I tried doing something like that, I'd forget it in two days. She also researches the hell out of the concept of happiness when she first decides to do this project, to the point where her sister laughs at her about how she researches before doing. Which again, nothing wrong with that, she's writing a book, and there should be a good amount of science that she looks into.

I think what turned me off right at the beginning is the same thing that turned me off with "Helping Me Help Myself." It felt like she made up a reason why she decided to take on this project. There's nothing missing from her life...she's a published author, married, two kids, etc. She decides that she's not enjoying it enough because she snaps too much and gets too impatient sometimes. Okay, I get that, but that's also part of being human. She has a revelation when she sees a haggard woman wrangling kids and grocery bags on the street and thinks, "That's me!" Oh come now. Do-a-thing-for-a-year books are very in vogue right now. You came up with this concept to sell a book. End of story. At least in "Drop Dead Healthy" A.J. Jacobs had his wake up call when he got sick and ended up in the hospital. Plus, since he'd written a couple of these before, he was up front with saying, "Okay, then, that's my next book! Do all the healthy things for a year!" Don't be all, "I felt like I was a bad person because my only resolution was to learn how to do the splits on both sides, so I decided to delve into self help for a year," or "I was happy, but figured I could be happier, so I spent a year trying to be happy."

Other than that, one of the reason why these books are appealing is because the authors do a bunch of stuff and reports on it so we can pick and choose what sounds best for us if we want. Rubin does a ton of research and figures out what works best for her, following the guideline to "Be Gretchen." A lot of it is great advice, so I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to learn to be able to recognize the happy times while you're in it (and Rubin stresses that depression is a completely different thing from unhappiness, this is more for the discontent than the clinically depressed). I think that Rubin's writing style was just a bit too earnest for me. I have to "Be Jess" and know that gold stars aren't going to do it for me.
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LibraryThing member JorgeCarvajal
The biggest problem of this book is its lack of references. A single page wouldn't even pass as a Wikipedia article or a school paper. It has no bibliography, no page of references, no footnotes. Every statement starts with "studies show..." and similar; however, the research in question is never
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mentioned or acknowledged. Many of the things the author says throughout the book may very well be true, but without references, we'll never know.
Other, less serious problems include the overwhelming amount of quotes and blog posts, which make at least half of the book a copy-paste, and its unscientific approach.
Regardless of the above, the book has a certain something that resounded with me (and many other people as shown by its sheer success), it made me think and consider happiness from an interesting angle. I can't really say I liked it, but I can't say it was a waste of time, either.
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LibraryThing member sturlington
I read this book for my book club. It is the memoir of the author's one-year project to increase her happiness. At first, I was skeptical, because this seemed like yet another of those "I did this dumb thing for one year" books, and it came across as gimmicky. But Rubin won me over. She breaks her
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project down into one theme per month, such as energy, money or marriage, and then sets severals goals for that theme that she tries to accomplish every day of the month. Some days, she doesn't quite make her goals, which she's honest about. But what I really liked is that she emphasizes that the goals will, and should, be different for everyone. Most self-help books proselytize a one-size-fits-all solution without acknowledging that we are all individuals, and no one thing works for everyone.

Rubin throws out a lot of quotes, statistics and ideas for increasing one's day-t-day happiness. In accordance with the theme of finding what works for me, I was inspired by some of these ideas and mostly ignored the rest. I was most impressed that Rubin found the time to implement all of these changes (although she does admit that she discarded some if they didn't continue to increase her happiness). She did a whole lot of reading, too, and even write a novel in a month, which I thought was inspiring because she did it just for her own enjoyment, not to try to sell it. I seem to be stuck with the notion that I have to spend my time doing something productive or money-making, which is an impediment to my personal happiness; Rubin backs this notion up with some solid statistics, and it's a lesson that many of us can stand to learn, that not everything we do has to generate income. That insight alone, and the resolution I made to try to do more things for personal enrichment even if they don't seem particularly "useful," made reading this book worthwhile.
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LibraryThing member dianaleez
Nonfiction author Gretchen Rubin deconstructs happiness? Examines happiness? Researches happiness? ah...explains the fundamentals of happiness based on a review of literature and personal research /experimentation. sigh. smile. happiness? no not quite.

I confess, I was hoping for more from Rubin.
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Her subtitle could well have been: The Triumph of Conventional Wisdom. or Common Sense. or Stuff Your Mother Keeps Saying.

In all seriousness, my major criticism of the book is that it's superficial. It's so 'Gretchen' centered. As it progressed it seemed to become more about Gretchen's life and less about the nature of happiness.

Perhaps happiness is like humor, better experienced than dissected.
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LibraryThing member Sandydog1
I enjoyed this simply-written, pop self-improvement guide. Rubin embarked in a year of happiness projects, and encourages the reader to do so also. She demonstrated enormous drive and energy in tackling a new subject (organization, friendship, spirituality) each month, while retaining most new
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happiness habits throughout the year.

The book is worth skimming, and adopting those activities that make sense to you. You will probably find that some examples, blog reader submittals, heck, entire chapters, are just not that interesting or relevant to you.

Take what you want. Check out her blog as well.
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LibraryThing member maryelizabeth
Wonderfully written book by Gretchen Rubin for anyone seeking self-actualization in life. Ms. Rubin's easygoing, chatty manner makes this a lovely read!
If you are looking for some motiviation or practical tips for increasing your day-to-day happiness, this book will steer you in that direction.
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Rubin has a blog based on her experience of the "Happiness Project" ,and it is a wonderful companion to this book.
I would recommend this book to anybody looking for somewhat small, yet dramatic changes in his or her life experience.
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LibraryThing member redladysbooks
Gretchen Rubin has a wonderful life, she's married to a patient and loving husband and has two children, she has a writing career and lives in New York City. Her in-laws live practically around the corner and she gets along with them! She has a revelation of sorts one day while riding on a city
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bus. She realizes that time is passing her by and she's not focusing on the things that truly matter. She realizes that she could be happier and appreciate her life and family more and embarks on a Happiness Project for one year. Gretchen methodically sets up resolutions, commandments and goals for each month of the year focusing on different aspects of her life to improve upon. She chronicles this journey in her honest and inspirational book, the full title is: 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 book takes us through the year of this project with Gretchen, month by month. Each month she sets a goal as well as ideas and projects for her to achieve the goal. They were different each month but tended to build on the previous goal. For example, in January her goal was to Boost Energy by getting more sleep, exercising more and what I found insightful was that Gretchen found "acting" more energetic and happy actually worked. Gretchen was inspired by this quote :

"Whoever is happy will make others happy, too." Mark Twain.

She then tackles her marriage in the next month with the goal to Remember Love. She then adds other months that address work, parenthood, leisure, friendship and more. I liked how the book was organized into dedicated chapters for each month. It was nice to focus on the one goal and it made it easier to read and the book flowed well.

Gretchen is not done learning but she did find out how important this project was in getting to know herself and be herself. She was very honest in sharing her weaknesses as well as her struggles and successes along the way. I enjoyed her honesty and sense of humor and some of her conclusions were very interesting. The Happiness Project is full of ideas to inspire you and you just may learn a few new things that may challenge you to start a Happiness Project of your own.
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LibraryThing member agarrisongirl
Enjoyed the book and the author. She shared some good ideas and some quotes that I liked. I could picture myself doing some of these projects and wished that I had.
LibraryThing member sacrain
I loved this book! If I were any less lazy I would totally start my own Happiness Project! This book was such a joy to read -- I loved Rubin's writing style, her EXTENSIVE research on each and every thing happiness-related, her tips and her honesty while writing this. She wasn't perfect. Which
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makes me like her even more.

Reading this book made me hopeful and optimistic -- I think anyone who's feeling stuck or blah or blue would benefit from reading this. Just reading it helped me live vicariously and get through the last bit of winter in Chicago. It was definitely a bright spot in my day. It made me happy!
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
Rubin spends a year trying to improve the most important facets of her life; her marriage, work, parenting style, energy level, etc. From the beginning of the book she says she understands that she is already happy and loves her life, but knows there are simple things she can do to improve and
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simplify it.

I really enjoyed her writing style. Other authors might have sounded preachy or whiny with the same material, but Rubin does a wonderful job blending statistics and studies, her own experiences and a self-deprecating humor to create each chapter. Instead of telling her readers to "be less judgmental" or something like that, she tells them the reasons why this can fuel your own happiness and she gives specific suggestions on how to do it. I'm not big on self-help books, but this one was just my style. Based on facts and her experiences as opposed to just willing yourself to a happier life.
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LibraryThing member KarenAJeff
I didn't really want to read this book. What could some rich, younger New Yorker woman with a perfect life have to tell me? But I found that I really enjoyed this book and I learnt a lot. I will be re-reading this book every few years.
LibraryThing member juliana_t
Very readable account of one woman's attempt to put so much theory on happiness into practice in one year of her life. Filled with some good tips/ideas/quotes. The author came across as quite a perfectionist, but at the same time, she was fairly candid about her faults. Very in-vogue topic - though
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different from books like Stumbling on Happiness (which is still one of my favourites) because it's more biography.
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LibraryThing member cenneidigh
Great book, I took each of her chapters and did a self analysis. I think I'm a happy person, but I could be happier. It is a choice, not something that just happens. You can choose to be happy or miserable, its your call.
LibraryThing member sriddell
Honestly, I got bored and didn't finish the book. I guess reading a book that I find slow and dull is not on my personal hapiness project schedule.
LibraryThing member dsieradzki
fascinating examination of our personal lives, broken down into manageable categories for change.
LibraryThing member KHusser
Gretchen Rubin’s yearlong journey, The Happiness Project, is a straight forward read, developed from her blog of the same name. Laced with scientific research, .philosophy, and personal analysis Rubin takes us through her own personal “Aha” moments on making life more fun, happy and hopefully
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stress free. Month by month we follow the author through her month long resolutions such as eating better, which she refers to as “no fake food,” or no nagging comments, which was very tough for her argumentative personality. Overall, readers will gain at least one nugget of useful information that can help better their happiness quotient. Rubin offers straightforward suggestions, along with other readers’ tips, to share specifics of what has been successful toward that elusive journey to true happiness. Check out the Happiness Project website, if you’d like a sneak peek at the author’s happiness toolkit.
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LibraryThing member natarsha
I have been enjoying Gretchen Rubin's blog for a while now and wanted to read the book. For some reason (?) it is not available on the Kindle but I got my hands on a copy and enjoyed it. There was nothing surprising in it as it's all covered in the blog but it was nice to read her ideas in the book
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format. The advice I took away with me is that if you want to feel happier, then stick to your own promises to yourself (or goals) and the progress you make towards these makes you feel satisfied (or happier). But there is many, many other gems as well. Is it necessary to read the book? No, the blog covers it all and the interactivity makes for better reading.
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LibraryThing member kellyoliva
Are you happy enough? This is the question author Gretchen Rubin poses to herself one typical April day as she rides a bus in New York City. She reflects on the fact she lives in her dream city, has a wonderful husband, two healthy daughters and a job she adores. But while there is much in her life
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to celebrate, Gretchen is bothered by her general lack of appreciation and tendency to focus on the negative. In an attempt to maximize her happiness, Gretchen begins The Happiness Project, a year-long commitment to twelve happiness resolutions she sets for herself. Among her resolutions are to “boost energy,” “lighten up,” and “ pursue a passion.” To carry out her resolutions, Gretchen tries everything from cleaning her closets to launching a blog to starting a collection. She follows age-old wisdom as well as new age fads. Her triumphs and failures are documented in her memoir, The Happiness Project, which provides a detailed account of each month of her project. Inspiring, comical, and completely relatable, Rubin’s book will encourage readers to use the tools she offers to start their own happiness projects.
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LibraryThing member RMEANS
Boring, did like reference to other books tho as follow up reading.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

368 p.; 5.31 inches


0062414852 / 9780062414854


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