2.16.2010

The Happiness Project


I picked up Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project over the weekend, and proceeded to read the entire book in one sitting (pausing intermittently for food and Olympics-watching). For those of you who aren't familiar with Gretchen Rubin (who, in addition to authoring the book, also muses about happiness over at The Happiness Project blog), here's an excerpt from a review that I think summarizes the book pretty accurately.

“A cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and seamlessly buttressed by insights from sources as diverse as psychological scientists, novelists, poets, and philosophers, Gretchen Rubin has written a book that readers will revisit again and again as they seek to fulfill their own dreams for happiness.”
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want

I think the thing that most surprised me is that, despite being about happiness (obviously), The Happiness Project doesn't read like a self-help book at all. Instead, Rubin takes a critical approach to happiness by testing various theories about what makes us happy (for example: scheduling time for play) and measuring the results. She doesn't preach or try to persuade. She simply chronicles what does and doesn't work for her over the course of a year. I found it fascinating from a sociological point of view (some of her conclusions are pretty counter-intuitive), and her straightforward and often humorous writing style kept me engaged.

At the end of her project, Rubin found herself with what she termed "Four Splendid Truths," which summarize her findings:

1. To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.
2. 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.
3. The days are long, but the years are short.
4. You're not happy unless you think you're happy.

Have you read The Happiness Project? What did you think?

10 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I just read another post about this book and I think I'm going to have to pick it up- it sounds amazing!

Kirsten said...

I've been meaning to read it - I think everybody could use a little additional happiness. I'll pick it up and let you know what I think :)

robyn michelle-lee said...

i'm fascinated with this subject! i'll have to pick it up!

you may enjoy this video about happiness...
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

xoxo.

Meg said...

This is definitely on my to-read list now... thanks for the recommendation!

alisha said...

i've been hearing about this book. those 4 truths seem spot on.

DescribeHappy said...

I only recently found Gretchen's blog and have been meaning to pick up the book. Good to know it's a book you couldn't put down.

David said...

If you're interested in a new approach to boost your happiness based on the latest positive psychology research, check out our iPhone app: Live Happy; it's based on the work of Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of "The How of Happiness" and provides a unique method to create a personalized program to increase your happiness.

You can also learn more about the iPhone app on our Facebook page.

Gretchen said...

I saw the nice mention of my book, The Happiness Project, here. I very much appreciate those kind words and you shinning a spotlight on my work. Thanks and best wishes,
Gretchen

E said...

Excellent review! I just ordered it on Amazon! :)

Leigha said...

Just added this to my reading list. Cannot wait to peruse the pages.

Leigha

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