The Happiness Project

Those of you who know me know that I am always reading something. Hell, I bring books with me to the gym to read in the 5-10 minutes of wait time before group exercise classes start! I guess that’s why I’m a literature major… Right now I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s an interesting attempt at a year-long self-improvement saga — a sort of domestic Eat, Pray, Love, if you will. Rubin is even a self-proclaimed planner who loves “charts… and compulsive note-taking.” Sounds like my cup of tea!

Except I am struggling through every page. What is it that turns me off of this book so much? She has very fascinating points and many tips to take home from reading the book, yet I just can’t seem to get fully into it.

I believe I’ve put my finger on it. I’m in the “July” chapter of the book, so I can only speak for January-July, but in this first half of the memoir, Rubin seems to be learning to become more efficient. She strives for efficiency in her housekeeping, her work, her parenting skills… even in her friendships and her marriage. If this is what brings her true happiness, then I commend her and I am very glad she embarked on her mission. I worry, however. I worry when she states that “happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.” That sounds to me like she is still shoving herself into a role. The entire book is strewn with the phrase “studies show that…” Sometimes she skirts away from this so-called “expert advice,” but many times she follows through with it, even if it seems to go against her very nature.

As I read this book, I see it more as a “satisfaction project” than a “happiness project.” Little that occurs in this book (at least January-July… I have yet to finish, so I have yet to make a full judgement) brings the author real joy… and isn’t that something to strive for? Shouldn’t the point of happiness be to feel the utter elation that comes with living true to our passions? But perhaps I am placing my own assumptions and beliefs upon her journey – which is not okay. I only write this out for my readers to offer a different perspective… to suggest that searching for efficiency and satisfaction is not the only road to happiness.

Have any of my readers read this book (or her wildly popular Happiness Project blog)? I would love to hear what you thought of it. Perhaps you agree with me, or perhaps you can point out a perspective I missed!

And how do you define happiness? Satisfaction and efficiency or joy and passion? Share in the comments below – discuss!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

4 thoughts on “The Happiness Project

  1. That book sounds absurd! I know I cannot make a valid opinion having never read it! Soo many people have their own perceptions of happiness don’t they? I’ve learnt to never rely on anyone or anything else for your own happiness. As well as finding joy in the simple things and appreciating everything and accepting the bad, making something positive of it. I think it’s a bit dangerous of the people who spend too much time looking for happiness, they’re probably missing the small moments that all equate to being happy!
    What else do you think about happiness? Do you believe in the path to happiness or that it is a continual thing, something that happens somedays and not others I guess like sadness, anger, lonliness etc.

    Socrates advocated self-knowledge as the path to happiness. Plato’s allegory of the cave influenced western thinkers who believe that happiness is found by finding deeper meaning. Aristotle believed that happiness, or eudaimonia is constituted by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life. The Epicureans believed in reaching happiness through the enjoyment of simple pleasures. The Stoics believed they could remain happy by being objective and reasonable, and they describe many “spiritual exercises” that have been compared to the psychological exercises employed in CBT and Positive Psychology

    • You know, I think that the reason I dislike the book so strongly is because she is too familiar to myself. I’m a planner to a fault, and I see that as the reason she is so unemotional and calculated when she embarks on this journey which is at its heart an emotional one. I totally agree with you that much of the happiness occurs along the journey. I think it’s important to have a goal of happiness, however, if it is a priority of yours, because otherwise you might not see it or appreciate it. It’s a fine balance, and most importantly, its about what works for you. 🙂

  2. Aimee Ensign says:

    I tried reading that book and couldn’t get through it. My husband read it and liked it, although didn’t apply any of it. I LOVE Andy Andrews’ books!!! They are incredible! If you want inspiring, read his books!

    • I’m forcing myself to finish it. I know I’m getting take-aways here, but it’s a difficult read.
      Thanks for the recommendation! I’m definitely going to look him up and let you know what I think when I read ’em! (warning – it will be a loooong time from now, because I’ll be in Spain until December, haha)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: