The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd on April 16th 2012
Pages: 336
Goodreads

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.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her—and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising—she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference—and they range from the practical to the profound.

The Happiness Project is the last book I read in 2017. A friend lent it to me at the beginning of the year and it just sat on my shelf, but that friend and I got into a discussion around Christmas about the book and I decided to pick it up. After reading the first chapter, I challenged myself to read it before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Challenge accepted, me! I finished it at about 8pm that night.

I don’t entirely know what I expected going into The Happiness Project. I’d heard bunches about it, and I knew the general premise, but I didn’t know if any of it would be relatable. I consider myself a fairly happy person. The idea that someone spent an entire year of their life dedicated to making themselves happier just felt, weird?, to me.

The thing about The Happiness Project is that it’s completely relatable while also giving us examples of how each of the resolutions affected Gretchen’s life. So we had the theory behind things and then the proof of how they can work (or not). What made it even more relatable to me was the inclusion of people’s responses from her blog. For almost every resolution, Gretchen posted the question on her blog and included the answers in her book. It was interesting to see how different people interpreted her resolutions or made up their own that related.

There were a couple of things that I took away instantly from the book and started incorporating into my life immediately. I have no idea why they resonated with me so much, but they’ve definitely made small improvements to my happiness.

1. If it takes less than a minute to do, do it right now instead of putting it off.

2. Happiness comes from within, not without.

3. Pursue a passion and forget about the results.

4. Be aware of how your attitude/happiness affects others.

Even if you aren’t looking at improving your happiness, I think you should read this book. I guarantee you that you’ll take something away from it without even trying. I did! Plus, Gretchen’s writing is superb, hilarious, and flowing. It made it enjoyable to read while also teaching me something.

All in all, this was a great way to end 2017 and I’m 100% sure it’s going to help shape my 2018 into a better year.

-M

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

2018 Resolutions

Happy 2018, y’all!

I rang 2018 in curled up in bed, with my cat, finishing up a book, and thinking about how I want this year to go. As everyone is likely doing, I’ve made some resolutions. But because I ended 2017 reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, my resolutions for this year are a little different. (Review coming soon on the book. Spoiler: Go get it, it’ll change your outlook.)

These aren’t all necessarily book related, but some of them cover both books and my life in general. And as Gretchen says, the difference between resolutions and goals is that these aren’t an end destination. Resolutions are things I’m looking at incorporating into my life. So, here goes.

  1. Forgive myself more. This one applies to both books and life. In 2017, I read about a third of what I did in 2016 and I felt terrible about it to begin with. But I realized it’s not a race and the only one putting pressure on myself is me. So, I’d like to work on forgiving myself for things that I shouldn’t be harping on myself for in the first place.
  2. Read what I want. In both 2016 and 2017 I found the vast network that is booktube and fell down a nice little rabbit hole. I started to buy books that I never would have picked up just by myself. This has been both a good and a bad thing. I’ve read some amazing books that I otherwise would have never found, but it also means that I got caught up in reading what other people thought were good books and not necessarily what thought I’d like to read.
  3. Cull often. This plays off #2. I’ve got a ton of books on my shelves that I’m likely never going to read because I bought them in that booktube whirlwind. Why keep them? Someone else can enjoy them. This is also a little more broad. Why keep clothes I don’t wear? Cull those. Activities I spend time on that I don’t really like? Take them out of the calendar. People I don’t really want to spend time with? Well, maybe don’t cull them out completely. But I’ll make more time for the people that I truly care about. (Is there a way to word that without sounding like a bitch?)
  4. Stop making excuses. Ohhhh boy, this will be a hard one. I’ve always been one of those people who makes excuses not to do something because I’m too lazy to do it. Example: I should go to the gym today, but I went Monday, so I can skip today and I’ll just go next week. No, no Mackenzie. You do the things you said you’d do now. The only person losing out is me when I make these excuses.
  5. Live in my passions. Funny enough, this is also a part of #4. If you asked my two top passions, I’d answer in a heartbeat: reading and writing. If you asked me how often I do both of these activities, I’d stutter out a soft “uhhh” followed by an excuse. If these are the things I love doing, why am I not doing them more often? Fear of failure is one of my biggest excuses for not writing more. But who cares? I can write without a book ever seeing the light of day and I’d still love writing a book. Or having a book written, I doubt any writer really loves the torture that is the process of writing a book. My excuse for not reading as much as I like is either because I’m too tired to put forth the mental energy, or because I’ve gotten caught up in reading a book I’m not really that interested in. This is something I’d desperately like to change. There’s too many books out there that I want to read, I shouldn’t be wasting my time on books that I’m only half interested in.
  6. Be happy. This is another tidbit I took away from The Happiness Project. Happiness is not something that is found without, you carry it within. For the most part, I am happy. I’m one of those weird cheery people that is usually always smiling. But there’s always room for growth, and there’s always room for more happiness. I’d like to find more within myself.

So, there are my 6 resolutions for this year. Tell me if you made any resolutions for 2018!

-M