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Saturday, April 10, 2010

This IS my review of The Happiness Project!

ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. [Order week begins here. Click for this week's Bliss Initiatives.]

Today I am reviewing "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. 
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

I'll give you the bottom line right at the beginning. If you like my blog, it is likely you will like this book. It is written in a very straight forward way and covers some of the same ideas I cover over here at Everyday Bliss. I already shared how flummoxed I was by the fact she had also designed her project around Ben Franklin's practice of studying his virtues... just as I am doing over here but as I continued to read I was totally flabbergasted at some of the similarities. She and her family send out Valentines day cards, instead of Christmas cards which is something I did for much of my twenties and early thirties. There were in fact quite a few things I read and then thought "this woman must have read my mind." The whole thing is pretty amusing! 

And then there is the rest... particularly funny, since I am right in the middle of my Order week, to read that one of Gretchen's ways to be generous is to help someone de-clutter a closet. She even insists on it and claims that everyone is happy for it. As I worked away this week on my pantry and garage, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to have someone standing by and censoring my culling of stuff. I can see how it would be useful but I really don't think I would like it. The task, particularly in the case of the garage, is large but I enjoyed looking through and designating things to give away, new uses and future storage options. I was jazzed up and my bloggy accountability kept me moving. Having someone else there would have felt like an intrusion to me so I am glad to have handled it alone!

Gretchen was a lawyer in her previous life which I think is what is responsible for her very deliberate approach to both her happiness project and her life. While reading her book, I spent half my time admiring her style and the other half being extremely annoyed by it. Her very formal approach to a lot of things just felt really stiff to me. She really is remarkable in her follow through, much like our mentor Ben Franklin but even with her having a full month devoted to lightening up I still felt like screaming, "Loosen up already!"

As I read the book, I found I was very interested and extremely engaged when she was writing about her direct experiences. My analytical self loves all of her research references and I feel her analysis is very sound. I particularly enjoyed it when she solidly debunked some of the commonly accepted notions around money "not buying happiness."

I did not like her usage of quotes from her blog readers to round out every little thought. Her Lawyerish self seemed compelled to show all sides of the story and some of the  differing opinions she shared diluted the message for me. 

I think the book as a whole makes a great reference piece. One can flip through it randomly and find an inspiring tidbit. In retrospect I think I might have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been trying to finish it up. More often then not I read a book straight through and then move on to the next thing. I think the The Happiness Project lends itself more to being "one of the books" and not necessarily the "only" book you are reading. 

I do recommend The Happiness Project. I expect I will also continue to reference Gretchen and her book as I continue my Everyday Bliss Game, which itself could be considered a happiness project. 

Next Post: The big reveal and other orderly conclusions.

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 [Click on any virtue to see all the Everyday 
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  1. What a great project you've got going on here!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book! I've been reading a lot of different reviews about it and I think it's going to be my next purchase!
    Have a great day,
    Vanessa, from Optimal Optimist

  3. Very thorough review...thank you! I feel like I'd know exactly what I was stepping into with that book...and have a feeling I may be doing just that fairly soon.

    Ah, my fellow spirit - we continue to be alike. I often get off balance when others don't seem to be authentic - when their "lawyer self" or whatever other conditioned self they've learned to accept hinders an open, honest, light-hearted being. Not to say that the former is bad...I just feel far more connected to people (and books and blogs) where one's truth is shared, not masked.

    Again, merci!!

  4. Thanks for your review. You and Gretchen should chat, it seems, because you both have so much in common. Kindred spirits. Each of you offers something totally different and fresh, however. And there is always so much to be learned from everyone. :) Theresa


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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