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522 of 598 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding Happiness (and a Great Read)
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...
Published on November 25, 2009 by Phyllis S. from Brooklyn NY

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162 of 171 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I Could Get My Money Back...
I rarely abandon a book midway through, but after the 6th month of Gretchen "being Gretchen" I couldn't take any more.

I found the author's tone whiny and self-important. Inflated sense of ego, anyone? Good grief.

Gretchen is a 40 something, ultra-priveleged mother, "writer", former law clerk to Sandra Day O'Connor and Yale grad (these last two facts...
Published on May 22, 2012 by CAnn


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162 of 171 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I Could Get My Money Back..., May 22, 2012
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This review is from: 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)
I rarely abandon a book midway through, but after the 6th month of Gretchen "being Gretchen" I couldn't take any more.

I found the author's tone whiny and self-important. Inflated sense of ego, anyone? Good grief.

Gretchen is a 40 something, ultra-priveleged mother, "writer", former law clerk to Sandra Day O'Connor and Yale grad (these last two facts are repeated over and over and over just in case the reader didn't catch them the first time). She decides one day that she could be happier, and sets off, in her goal-oriented way, to find more happiness. Also, she likes to give herself gold stars. Lots of them.

The advice she dishes out, however, consists of nuggets of common sense that most of have learned well before age 40. Be nice to everyone! Don't nag the people you love! Spend time with your kids! De-clutter! Get more sleep and exercise more!

Gretchen, as it turns out, lives in a Manhattan triplex, has a nanny, a housekeeper and millions of dollars. Obviously, she has lots of free time and disposable income to fund her 'happiness project'. It's hard to take her seriously when she whines about things like running errands for her daughter's birthday party and how hard it is for her to spend a week being nice to her husband.

I wish she had dug a little deeper into her own psyche - WHY does she need constant approval and attention? That is a question that may have been worth exploring.

In a New York Times article she is quoted as saying about her book, "I don't have anything that's really original".

No kidding.
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409 of 449 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcissistic drivel, February 5, 2010
By 
Mike H. (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
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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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1,686 of 1,869 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Research Author Before Deciding Whether to Read (Especially if You Lost Money in this Recession), September 16, 2011
This review is from: 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)
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. It seems odd that she encourages parents to remember "the days are long but the years are short" (an old saying she curiously takes credit for) when apparently she is spending much of her time reading and working on her pet project while a nanny looks after her baby. It seems unfair that she uses herself as an example of pursuing your dreams when you know she had years and years of leisure time to do anything or nothing she wanted, given her family's economic situation, not to mention extraordinary connections that would have given her tremendous advantages over another aspiring writer.

Maybe Rubin really did want to be a little happier, and that's fair. She's not a bad writer, and some of the ideas are good. (Minus flavoring salads with aspartame to stay slim.) But if she is going to sell her project to people who are probably genuinely suffering, quite likely at least a few of them in some part due to her own family's actions, then she should be honest about who she is and what her circumstances are like.
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1,397 of 1,551 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No new insights here..., December 3, 2009
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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. That was a bit off-putting for me. A few random insights from others sprinkled in here and there wouldn't be so bad, but there are a LOT, which just seems like a lazy way to fill pages.

If you are looking to start your own Happiness Project and need some ideas of where to begin, perhaps this book will give you some ideas. For me, I've read it all before - maybe I already did my own project and just didn't realize it.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Can the 1 percent really tell the 99 how to be happy?, June 6, 2012
This review is from: 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)
I'm trying really hard not to sound petty, but the fact that the author is filthy rich strongly influenced my opinion of this book.

There are some good tips to increase your happiness in small ways, like getting more sleep and replacing items that are worn out or don't work well. However, someone with millions of dollars can't relate to the really soul-sucking stuff that impedes the happiness of the non-rich, like having to work at a crappy job to pay the rent or mortgage, and the constant worrying about keeping your kids fed and clothed, health care, etc, etc, etc.

It would be really interesting to see how the book would have turned out if an average working stiff had come up with the idea.
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144 of 160 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book made me unhappy, June 26, 2010
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This book was incredibly disappointing. It's just a series of 2-3 page overviews, each about a particular resolution. There are few compelling details. Few compelling anecdotes. No connective tissue.

It was not long before I thought of each section like a poorly written college entrance essay. Here is a thesis, here is some minimal proof from my life about that thesis. There, hope you readers understand me, the idea and are inspired to try this out on your own!

Don't be fooled by the title. This book just made the author happy, and her agent too.
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265 of 299 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, but..., March 9, 2010
By 
Lenie (Charlotte, NC) - See all my reviews
I was looking forward to reading this book since I found the idea of it intriguing. As I was reading, I realized that something was bothering me, but initially I couldn't figure out what it was. Finally, about half way through, it hit me: the author seems to be boasting. She goes on and on about how great her life is by letting the reader know that she has a soul mate husband, wonderful kids, a great education, her dream job, perfect relationships with in-laws and parents, tons of friends and acquaintances, etc. It had me wondering why she even embarked on this project other than the obvious: money. If she's not as happy as she could be with all of these advantages, then I am not interested in her journey, anyway. If you're looking for something insightful, I would not recommend this book.
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207 of 233 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Should have been called "The Control Freak Project", April 12, 2011
This review is from: 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)
Like many other reviewers, I could not take more than a few chapters of Happiness Boot Camp with someone who thinks her happiness quotient can be mandated, legislated, and manipulated into shape with spreadsheets and checklists and to-do lists.

Gretchen Rubin's approach to finding happiness is lawyerly, pedantic and controlling; when she mentions that she has found herself being "less humorous than usual" I wondered how in the world that could even be possible.

She resents having to be nice to her husband for an entire week, and issues family marching orders (via email) for a party she is planning for her mother-in-law's birthday. She "decides" she needs to collect something, but then wonders what she should collect, and settles not on something that she finds beautiful or intriguing but something that ties in with her project. Her ideas and revelations all spring from somewhere else; she relies much too heavily on her blog readers' (unattributed) comments, and she displays unembarrassed calculation in her dealings with others ("Do good, feel good").

One of her favorite recommendations for solving a problem is (and I quote directly): "Throw money at it". Easy for her to say.

This is a very disappointing book, because Rubin is an engaging writer and this project was a great idea until she throttled the life and authenticity out of it. Her end product, a doggedly do-or-die, check-it-off-the-list approach to creating a better, happier life, is devoid of humor, empathy, self-awareness and a true understanding of the human heart.
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blind leading the blind, November 18, 2011
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This review is from: 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)
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? As far as I am concerned, her feelings were merely repressed during the whole episode which was why the behaviour could never be sustained (not to mention her behavioural change violated her commandments from the outset "Be yourself".).

I fail to understand how any of her listed activities would improve her outlook on life. Having encountered many individuals who are much less fortunate, I don't understand why she didn't pursue a project that would have actually made a difference to someone in need. Work at a soup kitchen. Volunteer at a woman's shelter. Heck! help out in an adult literacy program... maybe that would help you sell more books! Perhaps in giving back to the community at large, she would learn to appreciate all the things she has instead of lamenting the things she doesn't.

So if you want a manual about how to achieve self-repression, increase your own self-hatred and become a narcissist, read this book and follow it to a T. If you want to learn about happiness, go live your life instead of reading this book.
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90 of 99 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disingenuous, September 29, 2010
By 
J. Zwergel (Travis AFB, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It is totally valid for a high achieving person in a wealthy family to search for happiness and meaning in her life. It is disingenuous, however, to portray yourself as an average family when you obviously live a life of privilege and ease. I think the author should have been more forthcoming about the obvious advantages she has had. I remember reading about the cocktail party and thinking, "Wow, I'd be pretty happy just looking forward to going to a cocktail party tonight." Once she mentioned the "tent" and the office and the extra furniture in the bedroom I realized this was not the typical New York apartment. I am convinced this woman has domestic help yet she never mentions it. She reminds me of A.J. Jacobs, another memoirist from money who puts on the aw shucks routine. Again, I have nothing against these people personally but they shouldn't hide details about their lives to appear "folksy".
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