The Happiness Project

The start of a new year seemed like a good time to read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. I’d seen it floating around for a while, but hadn’t really looked into it, but now I’m glad I did.

Rubin’s book is part personal growth, part biography. She begins by explaining how she got started on taking a more scientific approach to happiness. By outlining several resolutions to commit to each month that fit within a certain theme, Rubin wanted to tangibly measure whether or not she felt happier by keeping her resolutions. She practiced everything from decluttering, choosing to act in love toward her husband and children, singing, pursuing passions, mindfulness, and other resolutions.

While it does seem to go against everything to actively think about and pursue happiness, Rubin makes some very interesting discoveries about happiness, things like: if you think you’re happy, you are; you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do; and what’s fun for one person may not be fun for another person.

Happiness is very much a mindset, and Rubin’s experiment really pointed that out. There are practical things a person can do that can help boost happiness, but one has to be mindful in order to accomplish them.

While I’m not sure I’m going to commit to a happiness project of my own, some of the resolutions Rubin made struck a chord in me, and as I’ve worked on keeping them, I’ve noticed a small degree of change (so I can just imagine what I’d feel if I actually worked hard on making resolutions, and could figure out the trick for keeping them).

All said, The Happiness Project served to help me with a few things: truly thinking about the things I enjoy and the things that make me happy so I can pursue them more; considering my behavior, my attitude, and whether it really reflects who I want to be, and how I can better be the person I want to be. The book was the kick I finally needed to start being a little more committed to a bed time and wake up time (a range, at least). It’s definitely the kind of book you might read a couple times, to try to grasp all the insights within.

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