May 28, 2014

Let's Review: The Happiness Project

As a self-help junkie, I've dealt with my fair share of great and not so great books / articles / workbooks / charts / personality quizzes / you name it, I at least know about it if I haven't tried it.  Through a bunch of bloggers and friends' recommendations, I end up getting exposed to Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (what a mouthful).  Obviously I NEEDED it since 1) self help's my jam, 2) happiness is also my jam!  I've read a bunch of self-help for life improvement in too many topics to count, yet this one was new to me and wonderfully interesting from the start.  And who doesn't want to be happier?

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Without spoiling much if anything, author Gretchen has an epiphany on a bus one day asking herself if she really was happy.  This lead to pre-planning and diving into a twelve-month resolution extravaganza integrating happy exercises and frames of mind into her life such as singing more, avoiding criticism, accepting what she loves not what she hopes to love, remembering important moments, purging clutter from her life, doing good for others, etc etc etc.  Just take a look; it's a light and fun read that's more of a conversation on happiness than a definition of it.  It's easy to put down and go back to months later without skipping a beat.

Price: 8 out of 10
Nothing special or obnoxious in the pricing of this book or the material that goes along with it.

Quality: (of material expected before purchase vs after finishing it) 9 out of 10
I didn't find myself disappointed as I went along based on my previous knowledge of the book through brief descriptions, a few reviews, and the praises of bloggers and friends.

Availability: Paperback, E-Reader, Audiobook, basically everywhere.

Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10  (NOTE: I don't make any of my ratings 10/10 because I do not want to argue perfection, there's always something to improve on.  These are all of course based on personal preference.)


- The approach.  Most self-help stuff has the perspective of the reader sitting in a room with the author getting lectured on their beliefs in the "you should do this" type of way.  The Happiness Project is written through the author's full journey through her unique commandments, resolutions, activities, and thought processes into happiness on her terms, not defining or confining what happiness should mean for the rest of y'all.  She says herself in the book that we learn best by observing others.  I didn't find it selfish or one-sided at all... more like a journal of her own happiness as a way of encouraging you to find yours through your own commandments, resolutions, etc.

- She makes me want to start my own.  That's the point of this book, hope that the reader will see how awesome her life ends up after the twelve-month project and wants to have one of their own.  Being able to choose your own path is what I love about this since I don't have to go by everything she says and still feel happy after acknowledging / practicing elements I pick and choose based on my own definition of happiness.

- Resources up the wazoo!  The book itself has a bunch of usable resources for us could-be-happier folk all based on the systems and activities Gretch (can I call ya Gretch like we're buds?) used in the book including a daily journal (a five-year-long one sold separately), free downloadable printouts of her resolutions chart, and being able to come up with your own commandments, adulthood truths, and happiness definitions as you go along / reflect afterwards.  She's got a website where you find it all I'll mention here:

- There's more!  She's got a second book all about happiness in the home: Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life (geez, another mouthful)!  I've downloaded a sample I have yet to break open so I'll let ya know what I think of that one eventually.  (Maybe another Let's Review post on it?)


- There's only a few times where I personally don't agree with something she says, but they weren't deal-breakers or anything.


- If only I knew I would like it this much, I would have bought the paperback early on so I can highlight and write in stuff that's easier to get to than the convoluted way of adding notes and highlights to e-reader versions.  I could just buy it anyway and read it again later... which I see myself doing anyway.

Disclaimer:  I am not being paid by anybody to say any of this stuff, and I only mention brands / details / spoilers because of personal preference.  I am trying not to get sued, thanks.

(Speaking of happiness... on my other blog What Mandy Loves, I have a semi-recent post on ways I stay happy - which came about during my read of this book - that could be interesting if you liked this post.  Check it out here: "List: What Mandy Does To Stay Happy")

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