The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I have been thinking for a while about how to be a happier person. When this book came out, I hadn’t yet considered a systematic approach, but it sounded like an interesting idea, so interesting that I almost purchased the book. But instead, I requested it from the library and had to wait weeks for a copy to become available. Having to wait for it gave me high expectations, perhaps too high.
In the early pages of the book, I felt that the author, Gretchen, and I must have a lot in common. We seem to have many of the same problems in life and similar approaches to those problems. But it was also a way in which we are alike that kept me from loving this book.
You see, Gretchen gets bogged down in the details. I suspect that she, like me, is a detail-oriented perfectionist. She feels the need to cover every base, no matter how uninteresting or inconsequential, and parts of the book were rather dull as a result. It pains me to criticize her for this, both because she is like me and because she kept making a point of being true to herself, but that’s just the way it is.
And a major way in which we are different also dimmed my enjoyment. For each month, she decided to focus on one aspect of happiness, such as energy, money, attitude, mindfulness, etc. In some cases, I didn’t agree with the month’s theme. In other cases, the theme was fine, but the approach was very different from that which I would have taken. In these cases, her endeavors seemed pointless to me, so I didn’t enjoy reading about them. For example, one month she tried starting a collection just for the sake of having a collection. Crazy! It was even crazier given that she had spent one of her previous months getting rid of all her clutter. Me, I have several collections, but only because I like them, and I certainly would never advocate cluttering up one’s house or spending money on anything one doesn’t really want.
So while I think Gretchen’s project was a good idea, and I am happy that she feels happier after completing it, the book about it is only so-so.