Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Non-Fiction. Self-Help. Memoir.

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, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

Release Date: 2009
Source: Purchased


  1. Be Gretchen
  2. Let it go
  3. Act the way I want to feel
  4. Do it now
  5. Be polite and be fair
  6. Enjoy the process
  7. Spend out
  8. Identify the problem
  9. Lighten up
  10. Do what ought to be done
  11. No calculation
  12. There is only love

When I first saw this book my initial thought was “Okay, maybe this would help somebody.”  I avoided it for a while, considering I worked as a shipper-receiver for a bookstore and we used to get boxes of the paperback copy, and later came the accompanying book, which I thought was down-right preposterous, but moving on to what I think about this book.

I carried “The Happiness Project” with me for nearly a year and I have finally decided to make this my 2013 starter review. A fresh review that can do no wrong, and since this is a neutral review, I thought this would be a good starting point.

A book about a woman who decides to start a project to better her well-being and the environment she’s in, emulating the Virtues Chart by Benjamin Franklin as her Resolutions Chart, and creating a set of 12 commandments to which she would base her “research” on throughout the book to prove that in the span of 12 months she can change herself for the greater good.

Instead of like most resolutions that seem to be a large list in January consisting of lose weight, be less dramatic, spend less, pay off debts, etc. Gretchen has split the large list into something more manageable by making a resolution per month. Each month also has some sub-resolutions but all are tied together with one main goal in mind: happy.

My highlighter at the ready I dove into this very simple-seeming book.  Before I could make it past the first trimester I was already coloring in the lines. “To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right.” (pg. 65) This is the profound thought Gretchen had in the month of February which helped ease her into her happiness project.

After that first line being highlighted every second or third page took a whopping. Ms. Rubin takes a great fondness to quote several authors, philosophers, politicians, religious persons throughout her book whom she has found to be quite inspiring. Samuel Johnson is a particular favorite of hers. But I took notice of the epiphanies, thoughts or phrases I’ve found inspiring.

By December, she claims that she did find herself sincerely happier. She had seen improvement in her own family, especially her husband, and she encouraged and inspired many people through her blog to take on their own happiness project.

Would I ever recommend this book to somebody else? Perhaps, if the “recommendee” was looking for help in seeking self-improvement but didn’t a book for dummies version, this is a great piece. Gretchen Rubin also offers starter kits for solo or group Happiness Project beginners.

I will end my review in the last final highlighted piece, which is relatable to one of Ms. Rubin’s “Splendid Truths” to which promotes her understanding the nature of happiness:

“One of the best ways to make myself happy is to make other people happy.

One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself.”

3 Starsignature


About Black ' n Write Reviewer

Library Tech grad who is currently working on a BA in Political Science and filling all her time with books.
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One Response to Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

  1. Pingback: Blog 11: Happiness | The Book Notes Project

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