The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Book Reviews

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Gretchen Rubin has been famous for some years now. Not to me. I ran into her book by only a coincidence, looking for those books that are chicken soup for the soul. It was the word happiness that got my attention because, Are we not all looking to find it? Is it not the last end of life that all the philosophers talk about? The aim of all religions and theories in this world? She said she could find it and I was up for it.

Gretchen Rubin decided then to quit her legal profession after reflecting on what was that she wanted her life to be. She wanted to be happy. Besides, she was looking for a life with a deeper meaning, that would keep her closer to her family and friends. Her passion was writing. And she decided there couldn’t be anything more exciting than working in which she loved to do the most. And she discovered that finding what she loved the most was easy. She only needed to look at what she did on her free time, and that was her answer.

So she rolled up her sleeves and got to work. Instead of thinking long -term as most of us do, visualizing dreams that after some time become blurred, she decided to divide in short-term deadlines everything that she was going to do in one year to reach that happiness. To know the steps that will lead to the end, she researched what was that made people happy and then thought if that would make her happy. After that, she chose what she would do every month, without fault and no excuses, with very thigh deadlines, in what to perform. What I liked the most about this was her realism, because she considered the fact that drastically altering a routine, let’s say, with a trip, would do the trick, but she immediately accepted she could not do it. She had a family that she wanted to take care of, and she still wanted to do a lot of changes, but without moving physically from the place she was.

She started with little routines. To be organised, or better, to become organised. Tiding up the house before going to sleep, doing exercise, sleeping earlier and doing all the nagging and non-urgent tasks  that are always pending and getting in the middle of everything that we do. It was a good way of taking away worries and have enough energy to face other bigger tasks.

She looked back at her love life. She confronted herself and her mistakes in her relationship with her husband. She auto examined herself, because she constantly looked at his mistakes, forgetting his qualities. Besides, what she did for both was always altered by a retribution component, something that she seldom, or never, received. She understood that each person has ways of showing a partner their appreciation, and that those ways are not always the same. For example, her disorganised husband always threw the rubbish at night. Like that she resigned the need of approval from her husband and stooped waiting for him to say thank you for everything she did so she could have a more happy marriage.

She identified what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. For that she resisted the need to do the things that pleased others and knew that when she was alone what she liked was to read and to write, to take notes, to research and analyse. She understood at that moment and wondered why she had not figured out before. She wanted to be a writer and that is what she was going to do. She looked for the support of her friends who did similar activities to push themselves to keep persisting. She was discipline and did not give up.

She looked at her role as a mother. She realized that she seldomly ignored her daughters, paying attention only when the tantrum, the tears and all the eggs where already all over the place. She accepted that patience was not her strength and that she talked in negative terms to them. ‘Stop’, ‘don’t say’, ‘don’t do’, when everything she needed to do was to recognise the girls feelings so they would feel included and heard, and then give the answer she needed to give. Most importantly, she needed to give happiness to her kids. Building beautiful memories, taking a lot of pictures, writing down remembrances, with projects that they loved, with understanding and kindness.

She took care of her friends. She realised that friendship was in the details. Remembering birthdays, writing notes, being generous with her time and the most important, encouraging them to think big in their lives, because she felt happy when others were happy.

Her spiritual search was very important and she focused in gratitude and attitude. She wrote her happiest moments in a diary. She said thanks for the ordinary and extraordinary. She found and spiritual master. this search continued all over her happiness project, realising at the end that happiness comes from within and for that, attitude is very important. Laughing more, finding passions, for her, and for others.

A 100% recommended book, especially for those that are in the search for happiness.

Luz

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