5 Minutes for Books: The Happiness Project

Are you happy? Would you like to be happier?

I’ve always been a fairly optimistic, roll-with-the-punches, glass half-full kind of person. I’m happy. But even before reading Gretchen Rubin’s yearlong exploration of happiness The Happiness Project, I knew that there were choices I made and habits that I have that interfered with the goal of happiness — not only my own, but also the people who share life with me.

happinessprojectThis is the time of year that people reevaluate their lives and examine the changes that they should make to make it better.

Gretchen Rubin felt like she was a happy person, but she wanted to know why, and wanted to know what she could do to maintain or increase that happiness. As a journalist, she read works by Aristotle and other social scientists concerning the whys and hows of happiness. She decided that she would devote each month to exploring one particular area of her life that she hoped to improve, such as health, marriage, parenting, spirituality, hobbies etc.

I loved this book (so much so that I’ve added it to our best of the best 5 Star Reads list at 5 Minutes for Books). While the areas that I would choose to explore would differ slightly from Rubin’s, I laughed as she shared her personal journey. For example, while focusing on her marriage, she treated her husband (without telling him) to a “week of extreme nice.” But by the end of the week, she found herself irritated that he was not more appreciative and observant of how she was going out of her way to please him — thus defeating the happiness project.

The book was a great balance of personal experience, journalistic research and facts, with plenty of humor thrown in. It’s quite readable and interesting, and it definitely inspired me to work harder at being happy and appearing happy to those around me.

Want more info? Check out The Happiness Project Blog where you can even sign the petition to make 2010 a happier year. But this is a book I strongly recommend that you buy.

What’s even better — two of you (U.S. or Canadian shipping addresses) will win a copy of The Happiness Project. Just leave a comment. If you’d like to tell me one area of your life you want to work on in 2010, please do. You can check out my goals, inspired or solidified by The Happiness Project, check out my blog entry where I talk about my own Happiness Project.

We will announce the winners in next week’s column.

The winner of the Simon and Schuster big book giveaway is #88 Amy.

Book blogger
Jennifer Donovan manages 5 Minutes for Books and blogs at Snapshot. She thanks Harper Collins for the review and giveaway copies of the book.


  1. says

    I’ve seen this book around and thought it looked very interesting. This year will be one of great change for our family so definitely staying calm in midst of change is something I will be working very hard at.

  2. Angel S. says

    I’ve heard a lot about this book recently. I would like to work on being more organized so i am not frantically searching for something and ruining not only mine, but the happiness of those around me!

  3. says

    This sounds like a fabulous book. I am a worrier, and worry never solved anything. It is certainly something I would like to work on in a quest to be happier.

  4. says

    This is perfect timing, as I have spent the past few days thinking about how rough 2009 was for me emotionally.

    Most of it was my own fault, I know, and I have determined to learn to enjoy each moment as it passes. I especially want to appreciate what I have more, and truly make my husband and son priority over my projects.

  5. says

    I’m generally a happy person but this book sounds really good, maybe to encourage me on that journey.
    For the new year I really want to work on being more organized in Homeschooling.

  6. says

    This sounds interesting to me. It has been a really rough 2009. I was thinking just this last night. Despite where we are in our lives I can look down all the time or put my head up and try to be happy about what life has thrown our way. I have decided in 2009 to start all my prayers with Thanksgiving. I seemed of late to only pray about the things that are needling me. Last night I began. At first I had no idea what thankgiving I could think of but as I dug deep into the day I found there were many joys I was over looking. Those joys with my children and friends made me put the sorrows in perspective. I also want to work on not complaining about things I can not control. It sort of goes along with the happieness idea. I bring myself down with them and friends. They don’t want to hear my troubles so much when they have their own.


  7. says

    I would like to stress and worry less-mostly about money. I know we will be provided for but it is hard to remember that when you go try and pay the bills and aren’t sure where the money is going to come from.

  8. says

    I am so glad to come across your blog and this post. The Happiness Project is now added to my 2010 reading list. Just began looking at what I would like to accomplish in 2010 and there are so many challenges that I know I will have to narrow my concentration to be successful.

  9. Adriane says

    This book sounds very interesting. I would love to work on making my marriage better this year. With twin boys, or with children in general, we sometimes lose focus on the other in our lives, our partner

  10. says

    I would like to work on myself, more specifically strengthening my self esteem and tackling some insecurities.
    Thanks for a great giveaway, I would love to read this book.

  11. Melissa Nunley says

    I’d like to work more on our marriage – we’re trying for a baby and I want us to be that much stronger.

  12. Bonnie McAfee says

    One area of my life I’d like to work on this year is my diet. I want to integrate a larger variety of fruits and vegetables into it. I want to learn to adjust to more different types. I’m somewhat of a picky eater, heh.

  13. Carissa says

    Sounds like an interesting book. I want to focus on improving my finances and professional and living situations.

  14. says

    I just left a comment and it’s gone! So I’m leaving another, but if there are 2 please don’t disqualify me!

    I am working on being a happier driver. And if that sounds easy, chances are high that you’ve never visited my city. 😉

  15. Martha C says

    I’d like to move closer to the happy side. Put me down to win. My goal for the year is to eat more fruit and vegetables each day and keep myself from getting behind.

  16. Deborah Wellenstein says

    I was going to start exercising regularly today, but I sprained my foot two days ago, and right now, I’m working on just walking! LOL! Happy New Year!

  17. Amber Gibson says

    I would love to win and I’d really like to work on my physical health – on treating my body the way it deserves to be treated!

  18. says

    sorry, missed the part where I’m supposed to name an area I’d like to work on in 2010

    I’d have to say, as a busy mom, homeschooling 5 and blogger,…the one area would have to be time management, since I don’t at all, really. Nice contest!

  19. Laureen says

    I’d love to be happier in my marriage. I will be working on that through emotional freedom. Thanks for this giveaway!

  20. says

    Oooh, I was dying to read this but my library doesn’t have it and I’m dirt poor. Gretchen always talks about how trying new and hard things contributes to your happiness, but I’m a rut kind of girl. I’d like to work on challenging myself.

  21. says

    My husband has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, and although we have faith that he will get better, I want to spend this year making all his little moments special. I want him to be happy.
    sandym204 @ gmail dot com

  22. says

    This sounds like an entertaining book. I like Gretchen’s two questions: “What do I want less of in my life?” (post baby bulge; house clutter) and “What do I want more of in my life?” (Museums!)

  23. Linda Kish says

    I want to work on my relationship with my DIL. She is angry at me for them having to live with me..what did I do wrong? They live with me, I don’t live with them.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  24. Carolyn says

    I’d love to win. I follow Gretchen’s blog and her daily thoughts have helped me focus on the happy. I want to work on finding peacefulness.

  25. Marjorie Whitney says

    I’d like to declutter physically, but also emotionally. I think it might help make happiness more often and easily achieved.

  26. Melissa D says

    I’m striving to stop worrying so much in 2010, and to clean out my closets! Thanks– wishing you a happy year!

  27. Mia J. says

    This book sounds wonderful. In the new year I would like to be less stressed about money and just enjoy the small things in life. Happy New Year to you.

  28. says

    Ironically, the most important area I need to work on is being “happy.” More specifically, being joyful in my heart so that I can be cheerful with my family (not to mention myself!).

  29. Mary M says

    I would like to work on my health this year. I feel so bad all the time, that I am afraid I’m not a happy person — nor is anyone close to me when they are with me.

  30. katklaw777 says

    I’ve heard about this book, looks like an interesting read. I am working on eating more fruits and veggies and less carbs. Thanks.

  31. Zayna Phillips says

    I have somewhat started working on my happiness and it sounds like reading this might help me prevent a few mistakes. The main thing I am trying to work on this year is my financial situation.

  32. Aniela says

    I really want to read this. One thing I want to work at this year is giving my kids more positive feedback, trying to point out the good things they do each day.

  33. Alexandrea M says

    Thank you for the giveaway, I could use this. I need to work on something I knew 5 years ago but have kind of forgotten – how to look to myself for happiness instead of basing it on how those surrounding me are acting.

  34. Amanda D. says

    What a great giveaway. This book sounds like it could be very helpful for whoever wins it. Hope it’s me! macd82 at gmail dot com

  35. Lori Taube says

    What an interesting concept, I’m sure it made for a great read! Thanks for the chance!

    clctaube @ yahoo.com

  36. Ellen Brower says

    I really want to win this for my stepdaughter. She will be a new mommy in July and her life is going to change so much!

  37. Carmela P says

    In 2010, I’m going to work on updating my journal more reliably, working out when I say I will, and drinking my daily water! :)

  38. says

    I really want to read this book — I’m trying to work on my habit of worrying about everything and anything — that’s my goal this year!

  39. Kelly says

    There are a number of things I want to work on, but the top two are motivation and a healthier lifestyle! I have so many great ideas, but lack the “get up and go” to start many of them. I think the healthy lifestyle would fall into place with some of that motivation!

  40. Tricia Andrews says

    I would like to work on having more patience with my family! I really don’t walk around with a short fuse but it seems that way sometimes!

  41. alycep says

    This looks great. I have resolved this year to work on my tendancy to worry and also to read more so this will help with both!

  42. Kathy S says

    I’ve followed Gretchen Rubin’s blog for 2 years now, and her ideas have helped me to try to gather my thoughts and get motivated in ways that work for me to add some happiness to my otherwise “scrambled” life. What I would like to do in the very near future is to get myself and my home organized, and get rid of things that I tend to hold onto because of emotional attachments, and not because I need them for anything.

  43. Kathy S says

    Maybe you could post a note on your library bulletin board requesting to borrow a copy of the book if anyone personally owns one. Anyone who reads a great book like this would be glad to share with another, I would think.
    If you can find a way to save up the $14.00 by cutting back in other areas, such as buying “special coffees,” lottery tickets, smoking, etc. (I’m not saying that you do these things, but if so, it’s a way to save money.)
    Do hope that you can get your hands on this book…it’s worth the read. I’ve followed Gretchen’s Happiness Project blog by RSS feed and have also read excerpts of the book by Googling in “excerpts of Gretchen Rubin’s latest book” and there’s information on a lot of sites.
    I don’t have the book yet, but plan to get it for my grown daughter…but not without sneaking a read of it first myself!
    Oh yes, maybe you could split the cost of the book with one or two friends.
    Just a few ideas. Good luck!

  44. livingtheloa says

    I’ve been following Gretchen’s blog for a few weeks now and really enjoying her journey toward happiness.

  45. says

    I have so many areas that I want to work on in 2010. One major goal is to be healthier by eating less junk and being more active. I think that would make me feel a lot better and be happier.

    fionen_ftw @ fionen dot com

  46. Melanie says

    I want to work on getting more sleep!
    Ive been having trouble sleeping for a while, and I really need to get past it.

  47. Karen says

    This looks like a really interesting book. I’d like to work on appreciating the moment and not worrying so much about things that are out of my control.

  48. Kerrie Mayans says

    I am working on spending more time individually with each of my children so they have a chance to have some one on one parent time without being interupted by siblings.

  49. Patty Niedert says

    I need happiness! 2009 was a very depressing year. I would like to bring more happiness into my work life!

  50. says

    I love Rubin’s site and I can’t wait to read this book and begin my own Happiness Project. After the 2009 I’ve had, I am in great need of it! I have several areas I can think of off the top of my head I want to work on: Organization, Getting Healthier, Communication, and Having More Fun in Life. Thanks for the giveaway!

  51. Wanda says

    I spent Christmas with my parents, whom I love dearly. But Wow – getting older has made them grumpy and negative. Perhaps when I get to my 80’s I will have earned the privilege to feel that way if I please, but for now I am going to make sure that I keep my comments and reactions to others as positive as I can.


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