The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: Not A Book Review

The Happiness Project was given to me by a dear friend last year. I could not make time to read it last year. It sat on my shelf and every time my eyes met the title of the book, all I could think was “I have too much to get done, I don’t even want to take the risk of discovering that I could be unhappy doing the things I do.”

Oh well, that’s that and finally, this was the book that made its way in my carry-on luggage for a 9-hour flight. I am a great believer that no two people read the same book and it expands to: not even the same you will read the same book in the same spirit at all times. What you make of the book is largely influenced by the state of your mind when you read the book.

One thing I am happy about this book is that I genuinely timed it well. I read it when I was mentally in a happy space. The title of the book – The Happiness Project gives you an impression that it should be read by someone unhappy in their life and struggling to feel happiness. My experience of the book suggests that one should read it when one has some sort of stability in life and is not experiencing active sadness or generic unhappiness.

Who should read this book:

This book is a complete delight for those who are generally happy and perhaps have a bad day here and there. I would recommend this book to all those who get disappointed easily when they fail to meet their standards of performance. This book is for perfectionists or idealists who get harrowed by the slightest discomfort of things not going the intended or planned way.

This book is for those who are passionate about self-growth.

What stood out for me:

At the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin had created a system of 13 virtues to develop his character. Many great men were inspired by the same. In this book too, Gretchen (author) creates a system of 12 commandments and secrets of adulthood to help her keep her resolutions.

Gretchen describes herself as an unadventurous soul and it’s amazing how without making drastic changes in her life, she drastically increased her happiness quotient.

That’s what stood out for me – changing your life without changing your life!

To do this you must have an honest conversation with yourself. You have to start with as you are right now, instead of getting caught up in what you should be right now, what you could have been right now or what you wished you were right now.

Why work on a Happiness Project?

I am happy right now so why do a happiness project ?– Well I too had this question. Reading this book made me realize that this project takes care of habits which you know hinder your happiness quotient and often stand in the way of experiencing happiness.

I get frustrated the most when I am not able to keep up with my resolutions. This book gave me a clear structure on how to go about achieving the same. The best bit being without making drastic changes in my life!

Gretchen is practical throughout the book. She has deviations from her resolutions but has a structure in place that makes her keep coming back. This is what was truly special for me. Most people give up when they deviate from a goal they are trying to achieve or a habit they are trying to cultivate. A large part of the Happiness Project is identifying your deviation and coming back on track. That’s where the commandments play a huge role.

My favorite chapter

The chapter on Remember love gives great insights on quitting the habit of nagging and how expecting praise or appreciation in return creates unwanted gaps in relationships. Fighting right can resolve differences and not fighting right leads to the baggage of bitterness. She wonderfully shares her experience about how giving proofs of love helped her deepen her connections.

Her breezy writing will make you laugh out loud and make you feel “Hey that’s exactly how I behave!”.

After reading this book, I am seriously making time to think about what is my structure. What should I fall back on, to get going again? It may take time for me to build my structure and that’s OK.

Lines that struck a chord with me and some interesting concepts:

I am not going to expand on these as I want you to experience the line independent of my opinion.

  1. Do what ought to be done
  2. Types of clutter: nostalgic, conservation, bargain, freebie, crutch, aspirational, buyer’s remorse.
  3. Sometimes, though, the most difficult part of doing a task was just deciding to do it.
  4. I couldn’t change anyone else
  5. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
  6. I worry about being legitimate
  7. People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think
  8. Types of fun: challenging, accommodating, relaxing
  9. The days are long but the years are short
  10. It’s easy to be heavy; hard to be light
  11. It takes energy, generosity and discipline to be unfailingly light-hearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted…And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.
  12. Philosophers, scientists, saints and charlatans all instruct how to be happy, but this doesn’t matter to a person who does not want to be happy.
  13. I was at the risk of turning into a happiness bully.
  14. Giving positive reviews required humility.
  15. You hit a goal and you keep a resolution

I am truly grateful to my friend who gave me the book and author Gretchen Rubin for writing a book that has helped me improve my happiness quotient (without making any drastic changes to my life!) I have started my happiness project, do you wish to have one too?

Order your copy today: