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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 Paperback – March 1, 2011


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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 + Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life + The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal: A Five-Year Record
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006158326X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061583261
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (949 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“An enlightening, laugh-aloud read. . . . Filled with open, honest glimpses into [Rubin’s] real life, woven together with constant doses of humor.” (Terry Hong, Christian Science Monitor)

“For those who generally loathe the self-help genre, Rubin’s book is a breath of peppermint-scented air. Well-researched and sharply written. . . . Rubin takes an orderly, methodical approach to forging her own path to a happier state of mind.” (Kim Crow, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

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

“Packed with fascinating facts about the science of happiness and rich examples of how she improves her life through changes small and big The Happiness Project made me happier by just reading it.” (Amy Scribner, Bookpage)

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, www.happiness-project.com, 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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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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450
4 star
183
3 star
110
2 star
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1 star
111
See all 949 customer reviews
I found this book a very enjoyable and informative read.
Rita A. Dominguez
She nags her husband over problems that are trivial, complains about problems that should be on whitewhine.com, and overall makes herself seem like a spoiled brat.
adu
The Happiness project was exciting to read about how I will make changes to my life to make it better.
Jill Hambleton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,508 of 1,674 people found the following review helpful By mstar on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
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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1,315 of 1,462 people found the following review helpful By J. Peplinski VINE VOICE on 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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347 of 383 people found the following review helpful By Mike H. on February 5, 2010
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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513 of 585 people found the following review helpful By Phyllis T. Smith VINE VOICE on November 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is part memoir, part thinking person's self-help book. I like the fact that it draws not only on recent research in the new field of positive psychology, such as the work of Martin Seligman, but on the wisdom of thinkers as disparate as Samuel Butler and the ancient Stoic philosopher, Seneca. Many wonderful and wise quotations are included in the text. Gretchen Rubin has done a lot of research and reading, and distilled it all here, attempting to answer some vital questions. Is it possible to become a happier person? Is happiness a meaningful and worthwhile goal? She comes to the conclusion that while we may have a happiness set point, and a great deal of our mood is--researchers believe-- determined by heredity (50% or so), to some degree it is under own control (perhaps 30%). It may seem that someone who is not suffering from a painful mood disorder should be focused on other (more worthwhile?) goals than mood elevation. But happiness, after all, is something just about every human being wants, the goal that motivates much of our day to day striving. And rather than suggesting a life of self-centered hedonism, research indicates that the very factors that make for a meaningful life--good relationships, acting in a loving and generous way, engaging creatively with the world--contribute to happiness.

Will revamping your life and taking a systematic approach to seeking happiness work? Research indicates that it may. "I really am happier," says Rubin after a year of following through on her own personal happiness plan. She goes into enough specific detail here about how she got to her more happy state that I have no trouble believing her.
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