Book Review: The Happiness Project

I finally got to finishing The Happiness Project. There was a time when I always had my head in a book. Now my head is in the computer reading countless articles about a countless amount of things. I was excited to focus in and read a book about something I am passionate about.

How did I choose The Happiness Project?

I was in the break-room one day at Rackspace and a co-worker asked me how my son was doing. My reply was “He’s a really happy baby.” And he reply’s back with “Well you know happiness is 50% heredity.” When I asked him where he got that statistic, he said he was reading The Happiness Project. I wanted to know more so as soon as I got back to my desk, I googled it. I found the website and saw that the author, Gretchen Rubin, had cultivated a community around The Happiness Project. Lots of followers were starting their own Happiness Project. Before I could get involved, I had to read the book.

The Approach

The author is married, the mother of two, lives in Manhattan and is a lawyer turned writer. I feel that in order to enjoy the book and relate to her approach, you had to have at least one thing in common with her. The reason being is that it’s her project and she takes on these resolutions that relate to her lifestyle. I’m not saying you wouldn’t enjoy reading it but honestly, if I wasn’t a mother, I’m not sure I would have lasted the entire book. I was struggling through her “starting a collection” chapter because I just don’t understand collections.

Each chapter is a month and each month she takes on a new set of resolutions related to a particular subject. She does reference a lot of material she did research on and comments from her blog which made the chapters more engaging.

What was my motivation?

I am generally a happy person but we all have room for improvement right? There were two main things I wanted to get out of it:

  1. Be more positive during the tough times. We’re all faced with challenges in our life and we all respond to them differently. I think you’re level of happiness is an indicator on how you’ll react to those challenges.
  2. I wanted to figure out more ways I could help others be happier; And in order to make others happy, you have to be happy yourself.

 

The book is very realistic in that the author doesn’t suggest you go out of your comfort zone to be happy. It’s about maximizing on the little things you can do within your comfort zone to create happier lives. For example, just changing the way you word things can mean the world of a difference to someone.

Here are some quotes I highlighted from the book:

“The days are long, but the years are short.”
“Happy people remember happy events better, and depressed people remember sad events better. ”

“You’re only happy as your least happy child. ”

“People who have fun are 20 times as likely to feel happy. ”

“Real life-shaking catastrophes can provide insights into happiness that you couldn’t have any other way, but the more you know about what happiness really means for you before you come to that point, the better equipped you’ll be to handle it.”

“Knowing what you admire in others is a wonderful mirror into your deepest, as yet unborn, self. ”

“It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. ”

“The things that go wrong often make the best memories. ”

“Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity. It can boost immunity and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It increases people’s tolerance for pain. It’s a source of social bonding, and it helps to reduce conflicts and cushion social stress within relationships.”

What did I get out of it?

I think the biggest thing I got out of this is realizing that I know what makes me happy, it’s a matter of making it a commitment to do these things that are important to me. Here’s my first draft laundry list:

  • Remember others on their special day (Birthdays, Anniversaries) – Too often I let these days fly by.
  • Express to my husband how much he means to me – Always in my head but not always told.
  • Exercise – This is always a challenge because I’ve always been an athlete and I think I have to do 2 hours everyday when in reality, I am going to continue to let myself down. If I make it a point to simply stretch everyday, I will feel better.
  • Eat Healthy – I am pretty good at this but I could cut out small things.
  • Work with the youth – My #1 favorite hobby outside of family and work.
  • Take a day off to spend with my son more often – I am fortunate to have an awesome job and can take a day off here and there. I should take advantage of this and not worry about the work as it will always be there!
  • Don’t complain about the complainers – To hear people complain is exhausting but how am I making it better complaining about the complainer?

 

I hope to join a Happiness Project group and get started on it soon.

One thought on “Book Review: The Happiness Project

  1. Thanks for an Excellent review on this book Angela! I’ve been wanting to read it and appreciate thus objective review!

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