Monday, January 17, 2011

The Happiness Project--Gretchen Rubin

So, having seen a lot of mentions of this book in the blogosphere lately, my interest was roused. Really, what's the big fuss? Half memoir and part advice book, Gretchen Rubin spent a year trying to be happier. She was actually pretty happy to begin with, and certainly well-off and smart, so it wasn't that she was hurting in terms of having big problems to solve that were making her unhappy. Rather, she was kind of snappy to her husband and kids, and maybe not the best at challenging herself on projects, and liked to multitask and put off projects that stressed her out. Pretty normal. Oh, and she's one of those people who likes to get a gold star for doing things. So even though I didn't like Rubin, I do admire her honesty. So over the course of a year she tries various methods and themes to figure out happiness. It turns out accepting herself, being nicer to the people around her, stop having expectations and living in the moment are pretty key. WOW, what a revelation.

Of course, Gretchen Rubin was able to embark on this project because she's privileged (but Midwestern enough to acknowledge such). And it's really funny because her Happiness Project seems to be latched onto by people with big problems, like depression or no money, that they are trying to ignore. Rubin herself states several times in the book that depression isn't the opposite of happiness, it's a different kettle entirely. (True!) And frankly pretty easy to be happy if things in your life go well.

There's a quirk of this book that really annoyed me--after she starts a blog and gets comments, Rubin begins including selected comments in her book. This was irksome because it interrupted the flow of the story, and she doesn't include identifiers for the commenters. Credit the inspiration, please.

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