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 is an interesting, yet easy read. Arranged by monthly actions to find happiness, this book reminds me of a newer version of Gifts of The Sea. The Happiness Project is more of a woman’s read, but very practical in its recommendations. I believe this is one of “the good books to read” in your twenties and get a head start on self-actualization.
The biggest takeaway I have had from reading this book is the reminder of the power of setting goals in achieving what you desire and of the power of appreciation and generosity.
Interspersed within the book are two basic gems – Splendid Truth Number One : to be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth. Second Splendid Truth Number Two: one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
Gretchen discusses her idea of three types of fun. Challenging fun takes the most time and energy yet often pays off with the most satisfying fun. This is when you stretch yourself . Gretchen did not give examples, but this brought to mind physical activities such as running or hiking. Accommodating fun requires effort, strengthens relationships and builds memories, yet these types of activities takes a lot of effort, organization and coordination. This might be a picnic at the beach or going to a movie with friends. Relaxing fun does not require one to coordinate. Here Gretchen gave the example of watching TV.
An interesting concept put forth by Gretchen in the month of “April”, that I am still contemplating, is the four stages of happiness. This was made in comparison to the five stages of Grief by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Gretchen’s four stages of happiness are: anticipate, savor, express and recall. Her following sentence which she then inserts is interestingly enough, any single happy experience may be amplified or minimized , depending on how much attention you give them. I think the last portion or sentence is a type of cognitive bargaining we do when determining how we will direct or manage our feelings about the event.
All in all, reading this book was time well spent. For more information about the book, visit Grechen’s website and author pages – The Happiness Project.