Drive-By Book Review: The Happiness Project

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book-largeIt’s been a while since I’ve done my Drive-By Book Reviews, but one of my resolutions is to get back into sharing more of the books I’m reading with you guys in my special cut-to-the-chase Drive-By style. Up today is…

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Who’s it for? This book is just out today, but is so compelling it’s already racked up more than 25 reviews via amazon’s Vine program and last I checked was ranked in the top 100 books on amazon…before you could even get it! I guess that’s because a ton of people are looking for practical, non-preachy information about how to get and stay happy. If that’s you, this book just may be the perfect start to your new year.

What’s it all about? The book tracks Gretchen’s year-long journey into the wacky world of happiness research, tips and strategies. Gretchen’s not a researcher or professor, she’s a real person living in Manhattan. So, rather than reporting on the science and sharing others’ stories, she decided to round up all the major claims and theories that’ve been set out over the last few years, from positive psychology to the great philosophers, and test them in her own life.

Every month, Gretchen focused on a different happiness strategy, doing what she could to bring it to life, then observed what happened. Did it work? Was it total bunk? How could she tweak it to get the biggest happiness bump possible? Her goal wasn’t to push any agenda or strategy, but rather to “do, observe and report.” So, there’s no bias to prove anything right or wrong, just great information.

What makes it so different? Three things make this book very different than the growing gaggle of happiness books out there.

One, it’s written from the perspective of a real world person. I’ve read every book that’s come out on happiness over the last 5 years. There’ve been many great ones, but they’re pretty much all written from the prospective of researchers or aggregators of research. And, I LOVE research, but I’ve often been left wondering…does that really work? Gretchen is living life and testing the theories laid out in the books and papers of most others in the field. There’s no agenda beyond that.

Two, it’s supported by a fantastic, established blog that I read regularly and an online happiness project toolbox that’s got real value. Gretchen’s been writing The Happiness Project blog for almost 3 years now and somehow managed to write a book that builds upon, but is very different from the content in the blog. Together, they work magic. The book acts as an anchor and the blog turns the book into a constantly evolving and growing community, where Gretchen interacts with her readers every day.

Three…the woman can write. This isn’t a one-off for Gretchen. She’s an author with a number of other books to her credit. And, she’s not afraid to get personal and funny. The Happiness Project isn’t written to make Gretchen look good, instead, it reveals through stories and insights a very real, engaging person and a process of discovery we can all connect with. And, in fact, as the book unfolds, that’s exactly what she challenges us to do. Connect with and create our own Happiness Projects.

Thumbs? Totally up. Will we all walk away and do what Gretchen’s done? Doubtful. But, you don’t have to buy into every strategy proffered or try everything she tried. You’re not Gretchen and she’s very aware of that fact. The idea is to personalize your journey, to try then adopt what works for you.

The way I see it, resolution season is a few days away and most resolutions, when you boil them down, are rooted in our desire to be happier.

The Happiness Project is a great starting point for that process.

Go grab your copy today!


[Disclosure – I was given a review copy for free (though I would’ve gladly paid when it came out), the link to the book is an affiliate link, so if every reader buys a copy I’ll have enough to buy myself a new hairnet tomorrow and Gretchen is a friend, so while I’ve tried to be unbiased, c’mon, she rocks and I want you guys to be her friend, too…dammit!]

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6 responses

6 responses to “Drive-By Book Review: The Happiness Project”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan Fields, Dawn Westerberg. Dawn Westerberg said: Read the book&visit the blog-online spa! RT @jonathanfields: Book Review @gretchenrubin's The Happiness Project… http://bit.ly/4TR0Uk […]

  2. George says:

    Awesome. Thanks for sharing. It’s really great to get book recommendations because there are so many and it is hard to know which ones are really outstanding!

    About happiness, this is really great because we can find happiness regardless of our situation. It’s so easy to use the economy as an excuse to feel bad, and to complain about it. But this kind of book reminds us how we can be happy whenever we want to. I think that is really important.

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by jonathanfields: Drive-By Book Review of @gretchenrubin’s new book – The Happiness Project… http://bit.ly/4TR0Uk

  4. Jonathan, I so appreciate your very kind review! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book. I know how closely you follow the research and writing in this area, so I’m very HAPPY to hear that you found THE HAPPINESS PROJECT useful.

  5. David says:

    If you’re interested in a new approach to boost your happiness based on the latest positive psychology research, check out our iPhone app: Live Happy; it’s based on the work of Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness” and provides a unique method to create a personalized program to increase your happiness.

    You can also learn more about the iPhone app on our Facebook page.

  6. Stupendous concept; a real person actually trying things.

    Now *I* have to go try that.