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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 Hardcover – December 29, 2009
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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.
“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)
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I found myself tidying my house, decluttering my clothing and generally being more kind to those I love around me. Thanks for the boost and injection of energy to chase after my own goals and projects.
She admitted her shortcomings even when they made her sound a bit unpleasant. I think a lot of us could relate.
But by the time I got to August, I had to take a break. I don't think taking on all the projects that were supposed to make her happier were actually doing the trick. If I tried to do all that, I'd be more stressed than anything else. She did have some good points, though. I don't know if I'll finish the book. . I need some time to relax and enjoy doing nothing and feeling okay about that!
I have one question to ask those people: How?
The book is divided into 12 different chapters, one for each month of the year whereby the author dedicates that month to changing something in her life: career, marriage, children etc. Overall, it sounds like a great idea. However, the "advice" generated in the book is alarming. Her big marriage advice was to treat her husband "nicer". If you are shallow enough to not already treat your spouse nicely, I doubt your marriage will be saved by the book. As for children...apparently, the lesson is don't let their whining annoy you. As a mother of two, good luck with that and that came with the program, so suck it up. The whole book just seemed so ridiculous to me. I can't think of one piece of advice I gleaned that wouldn't be so obviously apparent for anyone with an ounce of self-reflection.
What bothered me most of all about this book is the obvious attempt just to sell. The author is very clear about her purpose in writing to be just to sell books. So, in this book, she gathered all her blog entries from other readers and tacked them in. Not all the entries were relevant or interesting and it just felt like an attempt to make the book thicker. There are also lots of quotes and "studies" about happiness, more obvious attempts to fill the pages with something relevant. The title kind of got my goat, too. A year trying to fight right? Can't recall an instance where the author was really focused on anything other than her own selfish pursuits. Read Aristotle? Not a chapter in the book so I'm not sure how it made it to the title other than to make the book seem more worthy.
You want some happiness? Save the money you would normally spend on this book and look elsewhere. Buy yourself a latte, a bouquet of flowers, take your spouse or boyfriend out for a hot dog, buy a stranger some balloons...