The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin outofman.com

12 Ways You Could Be Much Happier: The Happiness Project

{12 Ways You Could Be Much Happier: The Happiness Project} I discovered The Happiness Project quite by chance. Hardly surprisingly, during shopping. For stationery, of course, not books, as one might expect. Only because I happen to be shopping at one of my favourite stores, kikki.K, a retail boutique of beautiful designer stationery. Also a place that compulsive stationery hoarders like myself know better than to hang out at, yet fail miserably at resisting. In case you live under a rock, kikki.K also stocks (other than irresistibly stylish stationery) its own limited in-house book titles. Yes, they have books and these are usually limited edition prints in collaboration with best-sellers of the ‘self-help’ genre. Ah.This explains a lot about my increasing draw to their stores!

So…back to The Happiness Project again. Well, just what, exactly, is ‘The Happiness Project’? According to its author Gretchen Rubin, it’s a radical approach to changing your life so as to become much happier than you are this very second. Her tried-and-tested happiness-building formula can be summed up like this:

A.) Prepare. Identify what brings you joy, satisfaction and all that engages you. Also all that brings you guilt, anger, boredom or remorse.
B.) Make Resolutions. Based on the above, you’re to make a list of resolutions followed by concrete actions to boost your happiness.
C.) Keep These Resolutions. As she calls it—the third is the most interesting. No prizes for guessing how tough it is, huh.

The one thing that stood out in her book (the USP i.e. unique-selling-point that drew me in completely) had been discovering this isn’t quite your average run of the mill self-help book.
Instead I liked that it was rather personal in that it was a voyeuristic peek (albeit a healthy type of voyeurism,ha) into a real person’s life, in this case the author’s. In tackling her own Happiness Project, Rubin bares it all and shares all that worked or did not work in her case. Snippets of her work life, marriage, family relationships (parents and in-laws included), friendships, parenthood experiences and new pursuits are laid bare in all honesty.

Commendably, she has bravely outlined even her own personality faults and weaknesses as well as strengths that could all have a probable effect on how happy she feels about life(and got me started on thinking about mine!)
In this book she documents everything about her own experience that could play an integral part of how happy we are or can become based on our motivations and interactions with the world.

The chapters are easy to digest and come in bite-sized chunks. I liked that they were divided into a twelve month calendar, both useful as a timeline guide (to starting your own happiness project) as well as a strategic method to specifically focus on 12 resolutions to tackle. For a year, Rubin chronicled on a month-by-month basis, a detailed list of twelve resolutions she had selected towards building her own happiness goals. For example, in January she began with ‘Boost Energy’ (and tells us how she managed to successfully do so), in February, she pursued ‘Remember Love’ and how she boosted her marriage happiness. In March, she embarked on ways to ‘Aim Higher’, and so on:

Jan: Boost Energy/Vitality
Feb: Remember Love/Marriage
Mar: Aim Higher/ Work
April: Lighten Up/Parenthood
May: Be Serious About Play/Leisure
June: Make Time For Friends/Friendship
July: Buy Some Happiness/Money
Aug: Contemplate The Heavens/Eternity
Sept: Pursue A Passion/Books
Oct: Pay Attention/Mindfulness
Nov: Keep A Contented Attitude
Dec: Boot Camp Perfect/Happiness

I took no time finishing this delightful book on seeking happiness, or if you like, increasing our happiness. I found many of her theories on happiness intriguing, interesting and worth further exploration and study. But then that’s the writer in me speaking who loves to read, study and take notes just as Rubin also shared about the writer side of her personality.

I suppose I would agree with most of the wisdom she has laid out in this book regarding the pursuit of Happiness but definitely not every bit of it. Only because I believe each of us come packaged with our own upbringing, history and experiences that personally affect our perception of what makes us happy or happier. Having said that, it’s one of those books I’m very glad to have read in the new year and to stock in my personal library of motivational books.

Most of all, I like that it’s one of those books that inspires you to make those positive changes in your life based on mindfully examining your own life now and the awareness that every decision we choose today makes tomorrow what it is going to be.Even the simple suggestion that I could be happier everyday is one that puts a spring in my step starting today.

Coming soon to another post in the future: My Very Own Happiness Project. May you find yours too (to undertake) and take time to explore what makes you truly happy.

Otherwise, what would be the point of life? Happy people do make the world a better place. Have a happy week!

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