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Publisher's Summary

Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of best-selling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the 12 months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her - and what didn't. Her conclusions are sometimes surprising - she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference - and they range from the practical to the profound.

As an added bonus, this recording includes a sampling of Gretchen's podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In this episode, "Choose the Bigger Life", Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, discuss happiness, good habits, and whether Gretchen is going to get a dog.

©2009 Gretchen Rubin (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Packed with fascinating facts about the science of happiness and rich examples of how she improves her life through changes small and big. The Happiness Project made me happier by just reading it." (Bookpage.com)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Brian
  • Brookfield, WI, United States
  • 03-14-11

Disappointed

I had great hopes for this audio book. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The author seems like a very nice person and writes in a very casual conversational style. The problem is this book reads more like a diary or blog of a person's journey to find happiness. Cool right? That's what the book is supposed to be about. The problem is that my listening of this book felt like I was on the author's journey towards happiness and she did not take me along for the ride.

I think in spending several hours listening to this audio book I didn't learn anything on how to personally become more happy even though I learned all about the author's life and her struggles toward happiness, criticism and relationships especially with her sister and husband. We learn all about the author being an attorney and a writer and her internal struggles.

I wanted this book to be good, but unfortunately I left disappointed. If you're looking for a book in this particular area I would highly recommend: Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom...Why the Meaningful Life is Closer Than You Think Audiobook which I would put in my list of the top 20 books best I ever read.

This book is set up in a way that the author is working on one principle of happiness each month and basically shares with you her experience. That's the problem the book is written in a nonjudgmental style toward what you should pursue while almost seeming self-righteous about how the author is pursuing happiness her own life. Unfortunately unlike most audio books which I feel a close connection with the author this one left me feeling uncomfortable.

104 of 108 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The gift that keeps on giving...

This book was an awesome lucky find. I shy away from anything that sounds "self-helpish" but this book gives the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, I listened to it twice and then went out and purchased the book and will purchase more for family. This book is a great source of reality. We are responsible, in most part, for our own happiness. I guess we all just need an example to show us how to start. I love the web pages and the stories from others. Now if I could only find the Orange Blossom candle, I'd be set. This book has helped me recognize my truths and has made me actively count my blessings. The best line, "the days are long but the years are short."

46 of 48 people found this review helpful

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Great Book and Story

What made the experience of listening to The Happiness Project the most enjoyable?

I'm a general happy person living with someone who is commonly negative or depressed. I originally bought it to see if there was something I could learn to help her. However... I loved the book and I am thinking of starting my own happiness project because of it.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

There is one small frustration with the reading of the book... There are points in the book where what is being read are comments from blog readers or from some other source. From an audible book stand point, it is really hard to know when the comments / opinions being read are the authors or someone else. It is hard to know when the reader has switched back to reading book author material. minor issue, but frustrating.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Molly
  • NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA, United States
  • 08-22-13

Shallow and Disappointing

Any additional comments?

I had high hopes for this book, but it just didn't live up to the hype. I might have had more appreciation for it if I had read the actual book rather than listening to the author's narration of it. I really disliked the narration. What disappointed me most was just how superficial it all seemed to me. I expected something deep and enlightening, but this wasn't it.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Happiness Project

I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it - and then wanted the hardcover edition as well. I'm inspired to start my own happiness project. This book opened my eyes to ways that I can increase not only my happiness but also that of people around me. It made me happy!

42 of 44 people found this review helpful

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I just can't...terrible narration & bad advice.

Would you try another book from Gretchen Rubin and/or Gretchen Rubin?

Probably not. She is terribly boring and too monotone to be narrating. I don't actually think she was successful in her happiness project.

What could Gretchen Rubin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

She shouldn't narrate. Also, to be frank, she sounds like an UNHAPPY person, still, even though she supposedly went through this year of attempting happiness. Honestly, I feel like she missed the whole point. The book may have been more enjoyable read by a more lively person but, I just think it's a bad self-help book too because it's totally subjective to her life and doesn't make me feel motivated to take any of the same steps she took.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

She was a terrible story teller, boring, monotone, and clearly just an achievement focused person who's view of happiness is, in my opinion, very skewed. It was also very difficult to tell the difference between when she was talking from first person or as someone else.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe...only because perhaps it would be better portrayed by other actors.

Any additional comments?

As a therapist, I feel the need to advise people NOT to follow this woman's advice or even look to this book as a guide to happiness. It seems that, what may come off as funny if read directly from the book, is actually Gretchen's attempt to make light of times when she is actually quite unhappy....WHICH IS HEALTHY AND NORMAL TO BE. She puts a lot of blame on her husband for petty things and plays it off as "loving his quirks" when clearly, you can tell throughout that she is still pissed at him and seeking his approval through the project. Maybe I haven't gotten to it yet, but she rarely talks about how happiness simply comes from being in whatever state you're in, instead of trying to plan happiness. She rarely talks positively about her family, she admits she's motivated by "gold stars" and its obvious throughout that she is just seeking another big golden star by writing and selling this. If you want to listen to a woman's struggle with bringing her boring life somewhat more color, then you might like this. Besides some statistics, which I think are irrelevant to happiness anyway, this is not a useful book.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Maria
  • California, USA
  • 04-12-12

Fantastic project!

What did you love best about The Happiness Project?

Perhaps what I loved the most was the invitation to participate, in my very own way, into this fun journey of joy within the beautiful simplicity of my day to day life. I appreciated the very honest approach, and sharing, of the author's life experiences throughout her year of happiness.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gretchen, of course, but I also loved listening about her relationships with her in-laws and her husband/daughters.

Which scene was your favorite?

I do have a few months of her project that I found particularly inspiring and probably the ones I was able to connect the most with such as August, the month dedicated to contemplating the heavens; September, the month she dedicated to write a novel and spending more time with books as well as November when the concept of laughing out loud while lightening one's attitude came about.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were plenty of moments, but the one that comes to mind right now, is when she realized that her bus ride to school in the mornings with her daughter was that magical moment of her every day that was never going to be there again. That moment when she realized this and it became such a happiness producer for her, reminded me of a similar situation I have gone through this year. Since last September, I have been driving my daughter to her first year of high school for her zero period class (which means that I have to be up at 5:00 a.m. every morning in order to make it on time.) At the beginning it was such a struggle for me until I realized, like Gretchen, that this is it: the magic is happening right now. And I have loved every minute of every early morning since then!

Any additional comments?

So looking forward to her new upcoming book, "Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life."

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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weary

some interesting ideas... early on got weary of hearing blog comments ... felt like filler.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Made me happy

This book inspired me a lot. It was interesting to listen to and well narrated. It was so packed with details that I'm sure I missed half and will definitely listen to it again. I'm a great fan of the project.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Judy
  • North Kingstown, RI, United States
  • 04-01-10

FULL of herself!

Yup, the writer of this book is over-the-top full of Gretchen! Even with that rather annoying aspect, I have listened to this fully about 3 times. I actually bought the book. I really had to get over Gretchen in order to benefit from what are rather good messages and strategies for becoming more awake and aware, of living in a state that supports happiness. I'm grateful to Gretchen even though she subjected me to things like writing a novel while she worked out a exercise program while she was extra nice to her husband while she planned a birthday party par excellence for her mother-in-law while she created family archives, and on and on, almost all simultaneously. She breaks it up into months, but the activity is so frenetic and so intense and constant that it can be exhausting. The best part is perhaps Gretchen's honesty although even that is excessive.

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Kerry Pocock
  • 04-06-14

Absolutely loved it.

What made the experience of listening to The Happiness Project the most enjoyable?

Well read, and an inspiring journey. I loved the way it was broken down into each month and would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about making some changes to be happier without destroying what they already have :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Duncan Lloyd
  • 12-05-17

Compelling enough to give it a try

A great book, it really did get me thinking about my own happiness well worth the read / listen.

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  • Mrs M.
  • 11-11-17

Returning this book!

If you're new to the self help this may indeed be helpful....having read many books from many angles this was not the book for me, nothing new so to speak, a little bit slow, quite a bit too much about the author!....Not many books I've not finished but this is one i don't want to spend anymore time on!

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  • the typist
  • 11-03-17

Happiness project or Attention Deficit Disorder?

While undoubtedly containing useful information, I still couldn’t help feeling as if the reader was being spoken to like a complete dummy. So many of the authors suggestions were blindingly obvious or utterly tenuous. More worrying however was the fact that the author seemed to chaotically flit from one infatuation to another. So much so, I honestly wondered whether she had any time left in her schedule for her husband and two young children. It’s certainly an interesting read but also a massively unsatisfying one.

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  • Jennifer
  • 09-22-17

Good book, well read by the author

This is a good choice for those interested in hearing about studies connected with happiness as well as an engaging story about how they worked when applied to the authors life.
I will be purchasing her new book next month.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-11-16

A must read

I absolutely loved this book. well researched fantastic read. Can't wait to start my happiness project.

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  • Tinuvielle
  • 06-17-16

Happiness within reach

If you could sum up The Happiness Project in three words, what would they be?

Hopefull, Inspiring and Systematic

What about Gretchen Rubin’s performance did you like?

When I read a book I often try to imagine that the writer is reading it to me. And this was exactly that! I loved that it sounded so natural, like listening to a friend's story.

Any additional comments?

I'm going to give it a second listen and start my own Happiness Project. I've already did a major clean up in my house because I couldn't wait to get started. Gretchen has a point: "It's the rare person who can't benefit from a Happiness Project."

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  • Miss G
  • 05-20-16

Really interesting

I found this a really interesting thought provoking book. I think I might have to just start my own happiness project.

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  • Mav
  • 01-01-16

Annoying woman narrator

Would you consider the audio edition of The Happiness Project to be better than the print version?

No it would be easier to follow the program she suggests if it were read rather than listened to.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Happiness Project?

When her child threw up.

How could the performance have been better?

Yes, yes I know she's the author but I would've preferred a different narrator. She sounded really whiny.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The longest year of your life!

Any additional comments?

A great idea and one I will be trying in 2016 but at times I struggled to listen to her and almost gave up countless times. But I'm English. Folk from other countries especially the US may find her easier to listen to. Great ideas but poor narrator choice. Also it was difficult to tell when she was talking about her own life or quoting people who had shared their experiences with her.

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  • Aysel
  • 12-27-15

Easy and inspiring listen

I find the book easy to listen and follow. it has very practical ideas about how to improve ones daily and overall life.

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  • Helen
  • 01-06-15

Listening to this became a chore...

I was interested in learning how one woman applied happiness principles in her everyday life, but it was a very self-involved story and this, combined with the OTT narration, made it difficult to listen too. It may have been better to read in print form. I feel like her Happiness Project was too rigid and planned, which made it seem like a chore, rather than letting her happiness journey evolve naturally. It was also very centred around her role as a mother and her job as a writer, and if you don't share these roles then these parts of the book will be less relevant. Honestly, I did get sick of hearing her voice narrate these self-involved stories that, for the sake of my own happiness, I had to stop listening...

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Sofia Lekati
  • 08-10-17

Vivid and easy to listen

Loved how personal it is, sharing feelings and goals that many people would have in common! Nice clean narrator as well! It worths to be listened! ;-)

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  • Lauren
  • 06-23-17

When the student is ready the teacher appears..

loved this! Gretchen you really stuck to your committment and inspire others! Thank you. Alot of what you cover resonates with me and I'm keen to start implementing some new frameworks in my own life. Knowing oneself and understanding what makes you happiest is a journey that is not selfish. . It enriches the relationships you have and perspective you bring to the world.

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  • Kerry Sutherland
  • 12-30-16

worth listening to again!

There are so many lessons taught in this book. I need to relisten at some point!

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  • Terry
  • 09-07-16

Lovely

Really enjoyed this book. It was just want I needed.
Sometimes I find the readers voice in these things a little irritating, but Gretchen was awesome.
Thank you!

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  • Emma
  • 08-02-16

Fantastic starter

This book is a great way to begin your own way to seeking and enhancing the happiness in your own life. Although I personally am not the 'same' as Gretchen she has provided some wonderful insight on how to achieve the things that as she says 'don't feel good doing it but feel great once it's done'. If you take away only a few things from the book you will notice the difference in your life, it's inevitable!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-11-16

Awesome to get you thinking!

Loved listening to the author Gretchen Rubin read her story. I've had the book for years but haven't read it. The audible version meant I could listen whilst I performed repetitive tasks and exercised.
In this personal account of a year spent working on her happiness, Rubin provides insight into what worked for her, how she went about it, and how you could do the same should you wish.
I personally found it inspirational and will use these tools Rubin mentioned to work on my own happiness project.

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  • MsJAIG
  • 01-19-16

Happily Human!

What did you like most about The Happiness Project?

This book contained a lot of information from her research and time spent on her blog, which was the inspiration for the book. Resources are provided and made available for people to begin their own 'Happiness Projects', which many have done. Food for Thought!

What other book might you compare The Happiness Project to, and why?

I prefer not to compare books as each book has it's own identity and I read and listen to many genre's and feel it unfair to reach such a conclusion based on a personal bias.

What does Gretchen Rubin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Having the Author narrate this book allows for her emotion to come through and gives the book a very human quality. As Rubin reveals herself, it becomes easy to identify with her and reassures us all that we are all maybe not so different.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As the book begins, Rubin describes her thought process that leads to the 'Happiness Project' becoming a reality. It was something I could easily relate to, as will many others.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book for it's simplicity, honesty and uplifting vibe. Although it didn't change my life, it did give me a sense of well being. Good book.I

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  • Melinda - YarnderWoman
  • 11-20-15

Wonderfully inspiring

This book will definitely get you thinking about your own life, how you conduct yourself, how you find meaning in the everyday. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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  • Yosi
  • 10-16-15

Good read

This book made me question the ways in which I can make my life happier - as such I have implemented a few changes. However, not all of the changes the author made are relevant for me.