Book Review: The Happiness Project
“Be More Gretchen”
Gretchen Rubin set off one a year-long experiment she dubbed “The Happiness Project” in the pursuit to be happier and more content with life. The resulting book from her blog and experiment The Happiness Project ended up being the second book in what I have called the “Summer of Reading.” Reading is a bit of a stretch on this one as I listened to almost the whole thing on audiobook read by the author herself. The Happiness Project brings us through a year of Rubin’s life where ultimately she is on a quest to – “be more Gretchen” and embarks on research and applications to reach that goal.
Okay, with the boring book overview part and down to the takeaways and the major themes. Rubin weaves the reader through her year of trying new things, self-actualization, and becoming a better version of herself without traveling to some exotic location or living in an ashram for a year. She does it all from her apartment with her husband and two kids in New York City. It’s a book for those who want a bit of humor, practical tips, and a good story.
What I got out of it. I started to read the book then was given a copy of the audio book and flipped over to listening to the book over the course of the holiday weekend. The audiobook drew me right in, and two days later I am behind a computer enthusiastically writing a review and revitalized with my life goals in mind. Thanks, Gretchen (I feel like we are friends already).
While listening to the book I thought about my happiness project and the steps I had already begun to follow my passions and dreams. As I listened to the chapter on how Rubin decluttered her wardrobe, I found myself radically decluttering my wardrobe at the same time filling a huge industrial bag of clothing I let my soon to be inlaws sort through before sending it off to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah for donation. I cleaned my desk up and threw out all the old papers that were no longer needed. I found myself wanting some of the magic of decluttering she talked about in her experiences and looking around my small home for places where we can ditch the junk.
As I listened to Rubin tackling new challenges and starting her blog I was harkened back to the beginnings of Dirt in Your Skirt and took the time to reflect on how far the site had come since 2011 when I started it as a personal accountability tool for my training. As I listened to Rubin’s journey, I drew parallels to my journey and found a renewed sense to continue my passions and to “Be More Margaret”. I have been on working on my happiness project for the last year without naming it. As I listened a fire was reignited to continue to pursue all the passions I want to, it reinforced that my latest project – The Dirt in Your Skirt Podcast is a worthy pursuit.
One of the biggest takeaways from this book was at the end of the book about making ourselves happy by making others happy and the circle this power and simple message can create. In the end, this isn’t a new age woo-woo book about happiness but a down to earth account of one woman trying to make her life better and along the way helping many others in the process.
For those who have already read this book, I am still aiming for the day when I too will have the allusive open shelf but until then I keep working on my own happiness project and move onto the next book of the summer.