The Happiness Project: Book Review

Gretchen Rubin wrote two books on happiness: “The Happiness Project” and “Happier at Home”. The first one “The Happiness Project”, I read right after Emma was born.

The Happiness Project

I have struggled with depression for a long time. For the first several weeks after Emma was born, it was just the two of us. Her father was starting a new job in a new town 2 hours away to be closer to the rest of his family, where we would eventually join him. I had no experience with babies, was totally overwhelmed, and even though I was completely enamored with this beautiful little baby, I felt the clouds rolling in. I couldn’t keep up with everything I thought I was supposed to be doing and I felt like I had lost control of my life. This was one of the many times over the next couple of years that I would realize how much I was missing out on being 1100 miles away from my family.

Anyway. I didn’t want to be this sad person carrying around all this weight (figuratively and literally). As a mom, I had to show my daughter that life is beautiful. It is to be enjoyed and savored. I wanted to find my passion and to find happiness so that my daughter would have a shining light to guide her. Time has become such a precious resource to me and I knew I needed to pull myself together fast.

As a big reader, I opted to look to books for inspiration. I don’t remember how I came across her book, but I knew it was the perfect place to start. In “The Happiness Project“, Gretchen Rubin is contemplating what it means to be happy. Is she happy? Could she be happier? She uses scientific research in the form of a personal experiment to determine if happiness is something we can control. She reads philosophical books on happiness and sets monthly resolutions. She discovers Eight Splendid Truths and Some Paradoxes of Happiness. She also creates Twelve Personal Commandments for herself. It’s a very thorough project. And a very enlightening read. I also just recently finished her second book on happiness: “Happier at Home” which is where I got the idea for my Adventures with Emma.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with a feeling of emptiness or feeling that you have “settled”. Sometimes we look at our lives and realize how quickly they are passing us by and we wonder “Am I making the most of this?” “Am I just going through the motions with no real enjoyment?” “Am I happy?” Her website is a great resource as well. It even gives tips for starting your own Happiness Project, like I did, although I’d definitely recommend reading the book(s) first.

This blog is a part of my own Happiness Project. Starting in January of this year, I set myself 4 resolutions every month. Gretchen organized her resolutions by focusing on one area of her life every month. I organized mine simply by making one resolution each month for mind, body, soul, and Emma (something that focused solely on her health or happiness). It’s not easy to keep up with, especially when you are working full-time, a 3/4 time student, and the mom of a 2 year old. One of Gretchen’s paradoxes is that happiness doesn’t always make you feel happier and that is definitely true. But I noticed that when I started to focus more on these things that gave me purpose, improved my health and allowed me to grow, I felt lighter. I felt happier in the long run.

I don’t agree with all of Gretchen’s findings but that’s the best part of this book and this project. She acknowledges that each person’s quest for happiness is completely personal. The point is that you are reflecting on your life, you become more aware of all those things to be grateful for, all the things that you value and you make time for them. Being happy is worth the effort because happiness is contagious and “what goes around, comes around”. My daughter deserves the best of me and this book has given me a guide to find the best me I can be.

So thank you Gretchen for your inspiring books.

Have you read either of Gretchen’s books? Did it inspire you to start your own Happiness Project?

The opinions in this article are completely my own and I am not being compensated for this article in any way.

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