By Rachael Bentley
Over the past decade self help books have become something of a craze, with topics ranging from self-realization, relationships, work accomplishments and parenting. I’ll be the first to admit that I have read a couple different books that claim they can help you make the most of your time, and enjoy your life. I never finished one.
That was until I stumbled across The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin one day whiles I was perusing around Barnes and Noble. Sitting on top of one of their many tables of New York Times best-sellers was this little blue book that caught my eye. You can usually spot a self help book from a mile away, but in this case, it took me about five-minutes of reading to realize it fit this genre. Also, let’s not forget to mention the title itself is so enticing.
“What is a happiness project?” I instantly found myself wondering, and within 10 minutes I left Barnes and Noble with my little paper green and white bag, looking forward to cracking the book open again.
This book is 315 pages long, and I finished it in a little under a week. It was extremely difficult to put this book down, as Rubin is a funny writer and I found it very easy to relate to her.
Rubin takes a very methodical and practical approach to trying to be happier (playing on her own controlling personality) by using a system of goals and spreading the load over a span of a year. Each month she chose an aspect of her life that she wanted improve on such as family, friends, well-being and work. She then would pick things she could do on a daily basis that would help her reach her ultimate goal. For 11 months she struggled but also enjoyed pushing herself to do try new things, be less critical of her husband and make new friends. For her final month, she combined all of her goals and ultimately decided whether or not her experiment helped make her feel better. Thankfully for her, it did.
She also made up her own 12 commandments to follow to keep her focused such as “Always be Gretchen”, “Lighten up” and “Do it now”.
The thing that I loved the most about her approach was that she understood that everyone’s happiness project would be different, so instead of just talking about what worked for her, she included other peoples happiness projects ideas from her online blog. I have multiple friends who have also read this book, and I have yet to hear one negative opinion about it. The fact that it’s a New York Times best seller may be the only reason you decide to pick it up in the first place, but the message and the great writing will be what keeps you reading it.