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The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun [Kindle Edition]

Gretchen Rubin
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (988 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“This book made me happy in the first five pages.” —AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is “a cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.” (Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) In the vein of Julie and Julia, The Happiness Project describes one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could-and, arguably, should-be happier. Thus, her methodical (and bizarre) happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and "acting more energetic"). By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good, not perfect (in accordance with one of her "Secrets of Adulthood": "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good"), but Rubin's funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research (including all those other recent books on happiness) to qualify as self-help. Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. Rubin's project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy.


“Practical and never preachy . . . the rare self-help tome that doesn’t feel shameful to read.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062011944
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002VJ9HRK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,462 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1,335 of 1,482 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No new insights here... December 3, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I don't want to belittle anyone else's experience with this book, but for me these "happiness" ideas are concepts that have been rehashed over and over again in a zillion self-help books and articles.

For example, her relationship epiphany seems to boil down to "you can't change your partner, you can only change yourself." Really? This fact somehow escaped her? Because it seems to me to be the point of pretty much every relationship article that has ever been written.

In another essay, she wracks her brain to think of how on earth she might store all her children's cards, photos, and other paper goods. What to do? Stacks aren't working! Surely there must be some way of filing paper goods away in some kind of storage device...then it hits her: FILE BOXES! Are you freaking kidding me? How does someone get this far in life without having ever heard of organizing papers into files?

There are other such oddities that make me wonder if this woman and I are living on the same planet, such as when she decides that collecting something might make her happy but can't think of anything to collect. Is it me? Does everyone else begin collections by consciously deciding that they need one, then having to try and think up something to collect? Maybe it is me. I just thought that sort of thing tends to happen more organically.

These are just examples, I don't want to belabor the point by stating every single thing that made me roll my eyes throughout the book. There seemed to be something in every single chapter.

She's really not a bad writer and has a nice conversational style, which makes it regrettable that she uses nearly one quarter of the book to share anonymous comments that internet users have left on her blog.
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1,546 of 1,718 people found the following review helpful
By mstar
Would you read a book called "The Happiness Project" if the cover depicted a bored, skinny, highly connected multimillionare leisurely staring out of her Manhattan mansion from her bed, rereading her favorite childhood books, fretting over her weight, gazing indifferently at her collection of bird memorabilia, and finding fault with her multimillionare husband while a nanny watched her children and a housecleaner tidied her home?

No you would not, and Harper Collins knows this, which is why the cover features humble tenements and handwritten script and omits any detail that would make you think she's not just an arty mom from Brooklyn looking to focus on the bright side of life.

Who is she really? The way she tells it, she's a lawyer who boldly gave up a law career to pursue her passion, writing. She neglects to mention that this was not much of a risk given that she is married to the son of Robert Rubin, former Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup guy who personally helped ensure that derivatives stayed unregulated, netting millions for himself and billions of taxpayer bailout for his companies.

Once you know this, the story is unpalatable. Rubin and Harper Collins know this, and go to great lengths to maintain the ruse that Rubin is an everywoman, writing that she hesitates to purchase a $2 pen, or a new blender, or new shirts. Yet how can she really write an honest happy project if she is not truthful?

It is deceitful that she would say how tidying her home made her so much happier when you know that she has had a staff all along that can help her with just that.
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359 of 396 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcissistic drivel February 5, 2010
By Mike H.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have not written a review before but felt compelled to do so after reading 1/3 to 1/2 of Ms. Rubin's work. Rather than feel happy or inspired myself, reading this book became painful. The author's constant reference to her past accomplishments were both self serving and unnecessary. I am still waiting for the "happy" part of the book to materialize. Your money would be better spent making a donation to the local food bank rather than buying this book - and I'll guarantee you'll feel happier.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blind leading the blind November 18, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let's get this straight. I was coerced into reading this book because a friend wanted to start a group surrounding this book. After the first chapter, I wanted to exorcise this garbage from my Kindle.

The Happiness Project is not about self-actualization or improving the feeling of one's self worth. No. This is a neurotic journey of one woman who needs to be on Xanax. Or Prozac. Take your pick. To quote: "I wanted to perfect my character, but, given my nature, that would probably involve charts, deliverables, to-do lists, new vocabulary terms, and compulsive note taking." See what I mean?

Happiness is not about "scoring charts" and "set point" levels. It is a state of being that can achieved through the capability of self-love and love for others. It is about learning to accept one's faults and the fact that no one is perfect. It is our imperfections that make us human. The concept of human "perfection" is not only detremental but also completely unachievable. To claim it is possible only confirms that the author is potentially delusional but also harbours a deep sense of self-hatred.

It becomes increasingly clear that the author's superficial exercises (let's clean out our closets!) will not make her happy, but only provide a temporary bandaid for the writer's own misguided inadequacies.

Take for example her chapter on improving her relationship with her husband. She basically was artificially nice to her husband for a set period of time, held back what she really wanted to say, and then reverted back to her old pattern of behaviour after that period is done. What has changed? How has this made you happier? How has this made you a better person?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read. This writing is a hands on
Good Read. This writing is a hands on, detailed telling of a personal journey. Very relatable for me and good food for thought for a thinker. Read more
Published 1 day ago by kathy spivey
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it
Enjoyed this book. I can always use reminders to make choices/decisions to be happy.
Published 2 days ago by GP22
4.0 out of 5 stars easy to read and relate
Gretchen shows how been happy is a single person task: yours! Enjoy this personal approach to guide you o your own happines project!!!
Published 2 days ago by FREDDY OBANDO
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special at all.
She basically talks about herself. It feels like having a long conversation with a girlfriend. Nothing special.
Published 3 days ago by Online fan girl
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
This book is self promoting…I lost interest!
Published 3 days ago by Liz Contadeluci
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Reading!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Many reviews I read were harsh and negative....not quite getting the happy vibe! I loved all of the ideas and experiences. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Trisha K
2.0 out of 5 stars I find her writing preachy and annoying.
Ms. Rubin is out of touch with reality. I find her writing preachy and annoying.
Published 6 days ago by ZJG
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 6 days ago by leidarivera
1.0 out of 5 stars How did this book make the best seller list?
I bought this at the airport to read on a long flight. Based on what I read on the cover I was sure that I picked a good one. Nada....boring! Read more
Published 8 days ago by missmarymac
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it!
Published 8 days ago by Meredith uline
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More About the Author

I'm the author of "Happier at Home" and "The Happiness Project," about my experiences as I test-drove the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happy, to see what really worked. Happily, both books became New York Times bestsellers.

On my blog,, I write about my daily adventures in happiness.

My previous books include a bestselling biography of Winston Churchill, "Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill," and one of John Kennedy, "Forty Ways to Look at JFK." My first book, "Power Money Fame S..: A User's Guide," is social criticism in the guise of a user's manual. "Profane Waste" was a collaboration with artist Dana Hoey. I've also written three dreadful novels that are safely locked away in a drawer.

Before turning to writing, I had a career in law. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, I clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. I live in New York City with my husband and two daughters.


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