WHEN AN EPIPHANY CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE — A Review of “The Happiness Project”

What would happen if one day you had an epiphany in the unlikeliest of places—a city bus? “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Thus begins Gretchen Rubin’s 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, in which, for one full year, she dedicates herself to making herself happier without significantly changing anything about her circumstances. Her changes came in the form of resolutions that would help her change her life, one step at a time. The first of her twelve commandments was “Be Gretchen,” an important lesson for all of us. If we know what we like and what makes us feel good, we should only pursue resolutions that are based on our own needs.

Rubin’s resolutions were based on the following actions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, and forget about results.

Illuminating and entertaining, Rubin speaks to us in the voice of a friend (or neighbor) as she details her progress. One important lesson she learned: “If I keep my resolutions and do the things that make me happier, I end up feeling happier and acting more virtuously. Do good, feel good; feel good, do good.” Most of what she describes is a way of taking specific actions that result in more positive experiences (and feelings).

Act as if, fake it `til you make it, etc. All are ways of changing and reframing events so that our actions lead to more positivity. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing a voice tone or the wording of a message…from a negative spin to a positive one.

Mindfulness is another aspect of her plan. Finding ways to notice and be aware.

Each chapter is dedicated to a specific month, and for each one, she outlines specific tasks. One of her initial tasks, for example, is finding more energy, which involves getting enough sleep and more exercise. Then she moves on to clearing out the clutter. This is important to her because disorder was a constant drain on her energy.

Chock full of great ideas, I couldn’t even imagine NOT doing this. So I’m thinking that I will dedicate one of my existent blogs to creating my own project. Probably my Obsessions and Compulsions blog!

This book deserves more than five stars.


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