Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: The Happiness Project

One rainy day Gretchen Rubin sat on a New York City bus contemplating her life. What she discovered was, while she was relatively happy, she wasn't nearly as happy as she wanted to be and further, she was not living her life to the fullest. Rocked by this epiphany, Rubin launched The Happiness Project, a 12-month long experiment in creating resolutions for a happier, fuller life. This experiment became her happiness memoir of the same title.

Rubin offers several great ideas on how to improve happiness. Of course, some are 100 percent self-specific and only work toward her happiness. But a lot of her resolutions are broad enough that anyone, after reading her novel, can adapt and apply them to their own lives. I particularly loved the section on mindfulness and staying in the moment. Rubin offers helpful suggestions on how to achieve this and they are easily accessible to her readers. I also enjoyed her 12 personal commandments and secrets to adulthood. I found them very relevant and useful, not only while reading, but in my own life as well. "Act the way you want to feel" and "be [your name entered here" are reasonable yet beneficial rules to live by and it's fun to watch Rubin work on them.

For all I liked about The Happiness Project, I wish I would've fallen in love with it. Unfortunately I found it a little too research heavy and that weighed it down. At times, I found the reading a little slow-going and the pages had a tendency to drag at certain points. Although at certain points Rubin become a self-proclaimed Pollyanna, working towards extremes with being nice to others and such, it was a little overwhelming. Very few people, Rubin included as she was not able to fully keep her Pollyanna resolutions, can live or work at an extreme like that and while I appreciate the attempt to push herself, it was a little too much for a fellow woman living in a big city. It just seems unreasonable and therefore, unnecessary.

Overall though, I think Rubin have some very creative and interesting ideas on how to improve happiness. They are suggestions that are easily applicable to anyone's life with a bit of personal tweaking. It was certainly a respectable experiment, and one I think that was worthwhile to share.

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