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The Happiness Project — Finally!

January 20, 2013

I’m sure you have all been waiting with overflowing anticipation for my review of the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin:

hpbookPhoto source

This book was part of an online book club that is open to anyone that would like to participate and is hosted over at Peanut Butter Fingers.  You can read her review of this book here.  I have yet to read her review as I want to get mine written before reading her thoughts on the book.

So I am a little behind on writing this review as it was supposed to be done at the beginning of December so yeah, I am over a month late!!  The beginning of December rolled around and I wasn’t quite finished with the book and by the time I was done reading the book, Christmas craziness was in full swing and there was hardly enough time to write my usual daily posts not to mention a book review.  I know, excuses, excuses.

So here we go.

If I were to step away from the itty bitty details of what I liked, didn’t like, connected with, and didn’t connect with in regards to this book I would have to say that in general, I really did enjoy this book and I took quite a bit away from it.  That’s not to say that there weren’t times where I wasn’t 100% engaged in the writing or the topic at-hand because there were those times.  I think sometimes the book got too technical for the casual reader (or too technical for me, at least) so I zoned out for a chapter here and there.  But in general, I am glad that I read this book and I would recommend it to other people.

At certain points throughout the entire book I would be reading a passage and think, “Holy buckets, it is like she is writing a book about me!”  Her desire to purge closets and get rid of clutter;  Her need for affirmation and positive reinforcement; The list making, the goal setting….it was like looking in a mirror.

I mean seriously, she frequently discussed how she needs to know that she is getting recognized for her efforts — essentially a gold star of recognition.  Perhaps something that looks a little like this:


For several years now, I have been keeping track of my workouts with stickers on a calendar marking every workout that I do.  Yes, part of it is motivation to “earn” that sticker (good Lord, how old am I really?) but it is also a sort of pat-on-the-back, go-me affirmation.

Ms. Rubin mentioned several times in her book about her list of 12 Commandments and here are a few of hers that I connected with:

Let it go  (Seriously, just accept “it” for what it is and then move the F! on)

Act the way I want to feel  (I am often times a negative Nancy/Debbie downer (I wonder if that is a genetic predisposition) and I need to remember that my attitude is what I make of it)

Lighten up  (On others and myself.  Absolutely nobody is perfect)

She also talked about her love for journaling and while I feel like I have left that back in the 6th grade, I did appreciate her notion of a “sentence a day” journal.  On January 1st of this year, I started my own sentence a day journal where I make notes on the day to day, thoughts that have been clouding my mind, and even ideas that I don’t want to forget.  So there may be a few days that I missed here and there but who cares?  It is my journal and I will write in it as often as I see fit.

To wrap this up, I think what really resonated for me — and honestly, couldn’t have come at a better time — was when she talked about making time for the things that you are passionate about.  These hobbies (for lack of a better word) shouldn’t be something that you squeeze in when you have the time.  Rather they should be at the forefront of you daily life.  Why waste your hours on things that you get absolutely no joy out of doing?  Rather than allowing what you love the most to get pushed to the back burner, make it a priority and see where that takes you.

I, for one (though absolutely terrified of this notion), have taken this idea to heart and I am working every day to make my passion my livelihood.  I struggle daily with self doubt and worries that it will never pan out but if I allow myself to step away from the logistics of it, I believe that in the end it will make for a happier existence.

Finally, the most impacting notion that I took away from this book is in these words right here, “You are what you do everyday.”  For me, that speaks to an idea that our daily lives are all that we have.  Our habits, our quirks, the day in and day out — that is what makes us who we are.  And the best part is, those habits, quirks, and the day to day can change if we choose to change them.  We can make the choice to have the power to change the things in our lives that are unsatisfying and stagnating.  Once you realize the power you have over your own life and your own destiny, there is nothing that can hold you back.

So in summary, I really enjoyed this book.  I appreciated the author’s sincerity and honesty and I found that I was able to connect with her.  I feel like I learned a bit about myself while reading this book as well as found some empowerment.  If you are searching for a new book, try The Happiness Project.  I would be interested to hear your thoughts on it as well.

While we are on the topic of books, here are two other books that I have recently read and would highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend:

The Power of Habit:  Why we do what we do in daily life and business by Charles Duhigg

This book was absolutely fascinating to my nerdy, scientific brain.

Drop Dead Healthy:  One man’s quest for bodily perfection by A. J. Jacobs

I giggled my way through every page.  I may have to read this one again!

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