I just read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Two of my girlfriends and I are getting together this weekend to discuss it. I chose this book after having fallen in love with Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Of course, my adoration for Gilbert’s book stems from my love of fantasy, which is exactly what any hope of following in Gilbert’s footsteps would be right now.
Truthfully, while I admire Gilbert’s zeal and thoroughly enjoy her ability to tell a good story, I have no desire to travel without my husband and kids — which would make all that meditation and unfettered sex a bit tricky.
Rubin, on the other hand, offers a tale of doable steps toward greater happiness — though still for those of us lucky enough to have a steady income and a reasonably stable psyche. Rubin’s journey does not require a book deal, plane fare, and a job that makes extensive travel possible (I really did love Eat, Pray, Love — I just fully understand that Gilbert’s actual journey is accessible to very few people.).
Rubin divided a year into monthly goals. My favorites are April: “Lighten up Parenthood”; May: “Be Serious About Play”; June: “Make Time for Friends”; August: “Contemplate the Heavens”; September: “Pursue Passions”; and October: “Pay Attention”. She suggests that readers do the same, based upon personal goals and one’s own set of life commandments (Her commandments included such golden notions as “Let it go”, “Do it now”, “Enjoy the process”, and my favorite, “There is only love”).
Rubin, a writer by trade and mother of two young daughters, essentially walks us through the journey she experienced, month by month. I most appreciate her candor — there are several moments in the book when she acknowledges that she doesn’t feel any happier. But then, there are moments when she does. Mostly, she gives helpful examples that others might consider, like how to make new friends (a challenge in adulthood) and how to better nurture the friendships you already enjoy.
While I find her life a bit exhausting and occasionally find myself feeling somewhat inadequate in my inability to keep up, Rubin has motivated me to chuck those worries for the most part and just be who I am. Me. Not her. Just me.
I did find some of the listings of comments she had received on her blog a bit redundant. I am not sure how I feel about listing comments in a book based on a blog. In this case, it did not add anything to my experience. I also wanted more meat in some of her chapters, like the one on marriage.
Neither of these issues detracted from the value of the book, however. The Happiness Project by Getchen Rubin is an easy, fast read. I recommend it if you are looking for a boost in your own happiness quotient.
(I would not recommend it, however, if you are not already mostly content. If you need more than just a few ideas for boosting your happiness quotient, you will need more than this book.)