The Happiness Project

Happiness-Project-Book-CoverMany people say that the one thing they want in life is to “be happy.” Sometimes when you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, they’ll answer that they want to “be happy” too. So what is happiness exactly? What is this elusive idea? And why do people commit their lives to finding “happiness?” Why is it so important to maintain?

I recently started a book entitled The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and it is her memoir about how she spent a year seeking happiness in all aspects of her life – home, work, relationships, and her marriage. In the beginning, she shares the story of how the idea of a “Happiness Project” came to be; she was riding on the bus home from work, and she saw a woman across the street holding and walking with a stroller in one hand, her cellphone in the other, and her clutch wedged in the crook of her arm. While Rubin chuckled to herself, she came to a surprising realization: “That’s ME.” She found that she was constantly juggling so many things at once and she continuously allowed little annoyances and grievances to get in the way of her being happy. She was constantly feeling discontented and wanted to explore the ways in which she could limit her less-than-happy moments so naturally, she would be “happier.”

After finally deciding to begin her project, she first laid out exactly what she wanted to change. She initiated her project by setting up a Resolutions Chart with her top ten values written out. Rubin shared her philosophy of the “golden star” reward system; children are much more inclined to work hard for something if they know they are receiving an award in the end, and so she practiced this philosophy on herself. At the end of each day, she looked back on her chart and reflected on whether or not she practiced some, if not all, of her values. Each month, she focused on something new she wanted to work on to make herself happier.

I really love Rubin’s conversational, upbeat, and very personable tone. While I continue to read this book, I find myself relating to her discoveries and self-reflections; I feel as if her happiness is growing on me as well. She gives great advice on how to tackle difficult situations and how to handle discontentment, failure, and disappointments. I definitely recommend this book to anybody looking for a feel-good read – maybe you will be inspired to start your own happiness project!