Book Review “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

After years of being stuck in depression for over a decade I finally feel happiness once again. It is THE most magnificent feeling and I’m grateful to have it growing inside of me. It’s taken a lot of painful and not so painful work. I must be careful not to slide backwards into depression so it’s good to be reminded of the importance of happiness and learn about the various ways we can discover and keep it.

Gretchen was already happy, but felt like she “lost her temper” too often, “felt dejected after even a minor professional setback” and “suffered from bouts of melancholy, insecurity, listlessness and free-floating guilt”. She committed to creating a year-long project to discover a more sustainable happiness. Through research, advice from friends and strangers, and personal experiences she discovers many paths to increased happiness.

Here are my favorite highlights of the book.

-She sets a theme with specific actions to take each month and created a progress/reward chart to keep on track. A progress/reward chart is very helpful. I’ve learned that creating a To-Do List is only good if I follow through. So I do three things with my task list,  send it in an email, write it on the notepad in my purse and add it to my calendar

-We stick to our goals better when we receive intrinsic motivation from ourselves as opposed to external punishments. We are also more likely to see results if we create or join a supportive “goals group”

-By decluttering our homes we receive more mental clarity since we are no longer bombarded with the stress of a constant mess.

-Being present and fully participating in each moment brings joy immediately as opposed to the hope of waiting for something. Once we reach our goals our happiness can fade as we wait for happiness from more challenging goals. By being in the present we enjoy both!

-Happiness is not selfish. When we feel good we are more likely to help others. When we feel bad we usually are focused solely on making ourselves better.

-Negative moods are contagious and constant criticism or petty arguments take a toll on us and others. “I didn’t want to be fake, but I could make an effort to be less critical.”

-Be adventurous! Try new things, learn a new skill, be silly and do things that you enjoy without focusing only on results.

-Be aware of what you are creating. From Buddhism she learned “The most important was mindfulness the cultivation of consciousness, non-judgemental awareness. For example she had the habit of “mindlessly picking  snacks”. Each time she “felt uncomfortable twinges of self-reproach, because I knew that kind of food wasn’t healthy. Once I stopped that habit, that relentless source of bad feeling vanished”

-My favorite quote of hers is about how easy it is to get caught up in the negative. “…when I was angry or resentful, I searched for excuses to feel even more angry and resentful.” I’ve experienced this same awareness and it’s not pretty. However the great thing about awareness is we have the power to take charge and change habits that hurt us in the long run.

So there you have my opinion of the book. Have you read it? What did you think?  Please leave a comment!

Who should read this? If you’re looking for ways to be happier, if you’re struggling with depression, are stuck in a rut or curious about various forms of happiness I recommend this book.  Learn more at www.Happines-Project.com.

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