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The Happiness Project Audible – Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of best-selling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the 12 months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her - and what didn't. Her conclusions are sometimes surprising - she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference - and they range from the practical to the profound.

©2009 Gretchen Rubin; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

431 of 459 people found the following review helpful By CAnn on May 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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541 of 585 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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1,884 of 2,086 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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1,477 of 1,637 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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