The Happiness Project
Book by Gretchen Rubin
Review by Adam Zoltowski
Issue 4 Summer 2010
The Happiness Project provides a framework and strategy for increasing life satisfaction through a series of actionable processes and measurable goals that can contribute to personal wellbeing. Rubin, a writer living in New York City seems to be a happy person. She has a loving family and a good career, but she felt as though she could get more out of life. Her solution is a yearlong project and the inspiration for this book in which she tackles a number of issues related to happiness through a systematic approach.
At first glance the idea seems a bit odd, were it not for Rubin’s structured approach to her mission. To begin, she set out to establish a set of commandments to follow and coupled them with 12 issues to be tackled one month at a time (energy, work, marriage, family and so on). The order is strategic and her approach is guided by insights found through extensive research of psychological and sociological writings. Additionally, she also establishes concrete resolutions that she is able to quantify through her behaviors as opposed to leaving things open to much interpretation. She begins with the issue of increasing her own energy level so that she will be able to keep up with the yearlong quest.
As the book progresses, she incorporates new resolutions and issues to her ever-increasing load each month, while still attempting to maintain the level of commitment she had to her earliest happiness touch-points. While doing this, Rubin also continues to guide her quest through study and research, constantly seeking for the best course of action.
The result is positive, as Rubin does seem to experience an increase in happiness. She learns to value family more, to be more aware of her actions and how they affect others and simply to appreciate more what she had already. Written in a personal and humorous style, the book provides valuable insights and a model that could easily be replicated and adopted by readers. Though all of her examples come from her own life and experiences, the process she establishes is universal and the project has not ended with the publishing of this book. A part of the process was the creation of a blog in which she and her readers share thoughts and ideas on the best way to achieve increased happiness. The blog, in conjunction with this book, can provide readers with a systematic approach towards increased wellbeing.