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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
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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

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Description:

“This book made me happy in the first five pages.” —AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is “a cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.” (Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) In the vein of Julie and Julia, The Happiness Project describes one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.

Product Details:
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Hardcover: 301 pages
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: December 29, 2009
Language: English
ISBN: 0061583251
Product Length: 6.0 inches
Product Width: 1.05 inches
Product Height: 9.0 inches
Product Weight: 1.03 pounds
Package Length: 9.2 inches
Package Width: 6.2 inches
Package Height: 1.3 inches
Package Weight: 1.1 pounds
Average Customer Rating: based on 1037 reviews
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Average Customer Review:4.0 ( 1037 customer reviews )
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374 of 411 found the following review helpful:

1Narcissistic drivel  Feb 05, 2010
By Mike H.
I have not written a review before but felt compelled to do so after reading 1/3 to 1/2 of Ms. Rubin's work. Rather than feel happy or inspired myself, reading this book became painful. The author's constant reference to her past accomplishments were both self serving and unnecessary. I am still waiting for the "happy" part of the book to materialize. Your money would be better spent making a donation to the local food bank rather than buying this book - and I'll guarantee you'll feel happier.

1369 of 1521 found the following review helpful:

2No new insights here...  Dec 03, 2009
By J. Peplinski
I don't want to belittle anyone else's experience with this book, but for me these "happiness" ideas are concepts that have been rehashed over and over again in a zillion self-help books and articles.

For example, her relationship epiphany seems to boil down to "you can't change your partner, you can only change yourself." Really? This fact somehow escaped her? Because it seems to me to be the point of pretty much every relationship article that has ever been written.

In another essay, she wracks her brain to think of how on earth she might store all her children's cards, photos, and other paper goods. What to do? Stacks aren't working! Surely there must be some way of filing paper goods away in some kind of storage device...then it hits her: FILE BOXES! Are you freaking kidding me? How does someone get this far in life without having ever heard of organizing papers into files?

There are other such oddities that make me wonder if this woman and I are living on the same planet, such as when she decides that collecting something might make her happy but can't think of anything to collect. Is it me? Does everyone else begin collections by consciously deciding that they need one, then having to try and think up something to collect? Maybe it is me. I just thought that sort of thing tends to happen more organically.

These are just examples, I don't want to belabor the point by stating every single thing that made me roll my eyes throughout the book. There seemed to be something in every single chapter.

She's really not a bad writer and has a nice conversational style, which makes it regrettable that she uses nearly one quarter of the book to share anonymous comments that internet users have left on her blog. That was a bit off-putting for me. A few random insights from others sprinkled in here and there wouldn't be so bad, but there are a LOT, which just seems like a lazy way to fill pages.

If you are looking to start your own Happiness Project and need some ideas of where to begin, perhaps this book will give you some ideas. For me, I've read it all before - maybe I already did my own project and just didn't realize it.

1591 of 1770 found the following review helpful:

1Research Author Before Deciding Whether to Read (Especially if You Lost Money in this Recession)  Sep 17, 2011
By mstar
Would you read a book called "The Happiness Project" if the cover depicted a bored, skinny, highly connected multimillionare leisurely staring out of her Manhattan mansion from her bed, rereading her favorite childhood books, fretting over her weight, gazing indifferently at her collection of bird memorabilia, and finding fault with her multimillionare husband while a nanny watched her children and a housecleaner tidied her home?

No you would not, and Harper Collins knows this, which is why the cover features humble tenements and handwritten script and omits any detail that would make you think she's not just an arty mom from Brooklyn looking to focus on the bright side of life.

Who is she really? The way she tells it, she's a lawyer who boldly gave up a law career to pursue her passion, writing. She neglects to mention that this was not much of a risk given that she is married to the son of Robert Rubin, former Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup guy who personally helped ensure that derivatives stayed unregulated, netting millions for himself and billions of taxpayer bailout for his companies.

Once you know this, the story is unpalatable. Rubin and Harper Collins know this, and go to great lengths to maintain the ruse that Rubin is an everywoman, writing that she hesitates to purchase a $2 pen, or a new blender, or new shirts. Yet how can she really write an honest happy project if she is not truthful?

It is deceitful that she would say how tidying her home made her so much happier when you know that she has had a staff all along that can help her with just that. It seems odd that she encourages parents to remember "the days are long but the years are short" (an old saying she curiously takes credit for) when apparently she is spending much of her time reading and working on her pet project while a nanny looks after her baby. It seems unfair that she uses herself as an example of pursuing your dreams when you know she had years and years of leisure time to do anything or nothing she wanted, given her family's economic situation, not to mention extraordinary connections that would have given her tremendous advantages over another aspiring writer.

Maybe Rubin really did want to be a little happier, and that's fair. She's not a bad writer, and some of the ideas are good. (Minus flavoring salads with aspartame to stay slim.) But if she is going to sell her project to people who are probably genuinely suffering, quite likely at least a few of them in some part due to her own family's actions, then she should be honest about who she is and what her circumstances are like.

60 of 62 found the following review helpful:

1Wish I Could Get My Money Back...  May 22, 2012
By CAnn
I rarely abandon a book midway through, but after the 6th month of Gretchen "being Gretchen" I couldn't take any more.

I found the author's tone whiny and self-important. Inflated sense of ego, anyone? Good grief.

Gretchen is a 40 something, ultra-priveleged mother, "writer", former law clerk to Sandra Day O'Connor and Yale grad (these last two facts are repeated over and over and over just in case the reader didn't catch them the first time). She decides one day that she could be happier, and sets off, in her goal-oriented way, to find more happiness. Also, she likes to give herself gold stars. Lots of them.

The advice she dishes out, however, consists of nuggets of common sense that most of have learned well before age 40. Be nice to everyone! Don't nag the people you love! Spend time with your kids! De-clutter! Get more sleep and exercise more!

Gretchen, as it turns out, lives in a Manhattan triplex, has a nanny, a housekeeper and millions of dollars. Obviously, she has lots of free time and disposable income to fund her 'happiness project'. It's hard to take her seriously when she whines about things like running errands for her daughter's birthday party and how hard it is for her to spend a week being nice to her husband.

I wish she had dug a little deeper into her own psyche - WHY does she need constant approval and attention? That is a question that may have been worth exploring.

In a New York Times article she is quoted as saying about her book, "I don't have anything that's really original".

No kidding.

41 of 42 found the following review helpful:

1oh, my, gosh.  Feb 07, 2012
By adu
I wish I could give this book 0 stars. While I am all for singing in the morning and reading Aristotle, this book gives the false pretense that something magical is going to happen. Each chapter was filled with complaints that could only come from someone who lives on the upper east side of NYC. She nags her husband over problems that are trivial, complains about problems that should be on whitewhine.com, and overall makes herself seem like a spoiled brat. I've read lots of books for academics, and also for pleasure. I've never had one that has left such an unsatisfied taste in my mouth.

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