I spontaneously bought The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin last weekend. It had been staring at me for a while at work and so I decided to give in and give it a shot. Currently: (1) I am the happiest I have been in a long long time, (2) I am working on small changes in my life to improve the quality of said life. Both of these things probably contributed to my buying the book.
Let’s start with the basics: The Author decided, although she was already happy, to start a Happiness Project to explore both what makes people happy and to make herself happier in the process. She sets resolutions for each month (themed) and then plans to accomplish them, adding each months on until she is working at all of the resolutions by the end of the year.
The Good: The concept behind this book gave me a small push in a direction I was already heading and encouraged me to write down small changes and big changes that I’ve been meaning to change in my life. Not necessarily to make myself happier, but rather to improve the quality of my life. Excerpts from readers of Rubin’s blog were interesting to get perspective on a variety of lives.
The Bad: Finishing this book was a chore because I did not like the author. Though she lives a life full of love, money and happiness, Gretchen insists upon living in her own little world of which she is the center and most important. I found her selfish, childish and even boring at times.
The Happiness Project is full of quotes and comments on other books about happiness that the author read to “prepare” for her own project, which makes her journey less original and creative.
She doesn’t seem to be aiming for Happiness, but rather Perfection.
But what got to me the most was her constant need for “gold stars” and her constant complaining about goals that she set for herself. The author was in constant need of attention and approval, no: applause, at her actions. She decided to work on a small project for herself, whined when her husband would not help, and then expected applause that she accomplished the project on her own. This is just one example. Another time, she set a resolution to be nothing but nice to her husband for a week. At the end of the week, she commented about how glad she was that it was over. Additionally, the author had been denying herself pleasure by saying that she “doesn’t like music” when in fact the problem was that she didn’t like the music she thought she should be liking and in fact liked music that wasn’t “intellectual enough” for her.
I do not feel that Gretchen Rubin got much out of her Happiness Project. At the end, it seemed like just a whimsical project for a bored writer. Though there were moments when she accepted and acknowledged her personal faults, I can only hope that some of them have been changed by her project. From the text of the book, it doesn’t seem like they were much. Perhaps another year of keeping up these goals is necessary to truly let them sink in.
In the end, I struggled but did finish reading The Happiness Project. I was disappointed with the author and narration, but was able to take something positive from the experience, which is what many many people are doing through both the author’s book and blog. And this, I guess, makes it worth something.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?