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 by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked it a lot when I read it in 2009. Then in 2010, my husband and I decided to have a baby, and while I was pregnant my father died, I lost my job, and then my grandmother that partially raised me also died. I became very depressed for a long time. I know Rubin explicitly says that this book doesn't deal with "depression" and "depression" is a loaded word in the modern era, but the reality is that most people go through terrible things all the time.
While I'm sure Rubin has faced many challenges just like everyone else, she describes a happy marriage, a very good financial situation, professional freedom, healthy children, personal good health, and living parents. She could have written a book about happiness without personal information, I've read a number with very limited personal information, but that's not what she did. She also relies on a lot of scientific, historical, and philosophical information. But her particular angle on the book of trying the tips out herself left me a little cold on a reread. What happens when in your year of chasing happiness you're completely railroaded by life? Suddenly the question she skipped in the beginning, "What is happiness" (she says you know when you see it/feel it) takes on the central role. In a way, she's the opposite of Victor Frankl who having survived some of the worst things a human could survive, has full authority to lecture on the meaning of life from a personal perspective. It's not Rubin's fault of course, and she's brilliant and hardworking, but the book does suffer from some lack of spiritual depth.
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