5 Minutes for Books: The Happiness Project

by Jennifer Donovan

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.



Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 131 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Diaper Diaries January 4, 2010 at 1:18 am

I want to work on my parenting. Specifically being more patient.

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2 Laura January 4, 2010 at 1:43 am

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.

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3 Angel S. January 4, 2010 at 3:16 am

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!

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4 blueviolet January 4, 2010 at 3:50 am

I’d really like this and I’d like to focus on my marriage.

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5 Susan S. January 4, 2010 at 3:57 am

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.

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6 Heather January 4, 2010 at 4:57 am

I’d like to work on my organization.

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7 Melanie Sand January 4, 2010 at 6:03 am

I would like to work on a stronger marriage

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8 Tawnda January 4, 2010 at 6:22 am

I really need to be happier

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9 Emilye January 4, 2010 at 7:40 am

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.

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10 Kim January 4, 2010 at 7:49 am

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.
Blessings,
Kim

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11 Nikki January 4, 2010 at 8:31 am

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.

Nikki

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12 Kati January 4, 2010 at 9:05 am

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.

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13 monica January 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

how’s this?

it would make me happy to win this book.

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14 Corinne January 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

This looks interesting. I definitely want to work on de-cluttering!

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15 Lisa notes... January 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

I’ve been wanting to read this book, and have been following the Happiness Project blog. Glad you found it to be a good book.

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16 Jana January 4, 2010 at 11:48 am

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.

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17 Adriane January 4, 2010 at 12:05 pm

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

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18 Snarky A January 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm

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.

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19 Melissa Nunley January 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

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

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20 Valerie Gay January 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I would like to work on improving my finances this year. Sounds like a great read!

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21 Bonnie McAfee January 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

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.

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22 Amy January 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I’ve been wanting to read this book – 2010 is the year of happy!! :)

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23 Minivan mom January 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I’m doing a Happiness Project at my blog based on the book. Anyone is welcome to jump in! :)

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24 Stacey January 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

This falls right in line with one of my New Year’s promises. I can’t wait to go pick up this book and check out her blog! Thanks!

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25 Angie (Losing It and Loving It) January 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Looks like a great book! I will be working on weight loss/fitness goals and I want to get this house organized!

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26 Carissa January 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

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

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27 Mariah January 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Recently, a guy was really rude to me. I am now being very pessimistic and unhappy. Hopefully this book would help me.

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28 stacy January 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I want to work on having a more positive attitude.

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29 Jen January 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I’ve heard of this project. I’d like to be a better manager/player at home.

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30 Dezi Allen January 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I want to work on just having more fun and enjoying the little things with my boys, while they are still little.

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31 Renee C January 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I think I can make 2010 happier by having more patience with my two kids! Easier said than done!

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32 KSue January 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

This sounds like a great book. I am working on thankfulness this year

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33 edj January 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm

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. ;)

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34 Martha C January 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm

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.

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35 Benita G . January 4, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I’d like to work on losing weight.

bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

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36 Deborah Wellenstein January 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm

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!

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37 Amber Gibson January 4, 2010 at 5:46 pm

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!

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38 Susan C January 4, 2010 at 6:04 pm

I would like to work on my tendency to procrastinate-it’s brought me nothing but trouble!
smchester at gmail dot com

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39 Barb January 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Life itself. It seems that something always gets in the way of enjoying my family.

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40 Katherine Barnett January 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm

i would like to work on being a better wife, mother.. and person!

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41 autie January 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I’m going to blog more often!

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42 Jenny in Ca January 4, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I picked up this book at B & N, but did not buy it. It looked very intriguing, I’m going to have to go back and get it now!

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43 Jenny in Ca January 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm

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!

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44 MaryBeth I January 4, 2010 at 7:29 pm

getting fit!

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45 Jen January 4, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I plan on being nicer to and more tolerant of others in 2010.

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46 mindy January 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm

this sounds wonderful thanks

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47 Kim January 4, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I am working on accepting the things (and people) I cannot change and learning to be happy with what I’ve got.

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48 Anita January 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Organization for sure! :)

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49 Stacie January 4, 2010 at 10:22 pm

This sounds like a great and helpful book.

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50 Dena January 4, 2010 at 11:17 pm

This book sounds great! I would love to read it.

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51 Laureen January 5, 2010 at 12:02 am

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

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52 Jess January 5, 2010 at 1:04 am

I’ve been reading her blog for a while now, and think the book would be likewise interesting.

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53 raych January 5, 2010 at 2:02 am

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.

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54 HilLesha January 5, 2010 at 4:19 am

I need to meet more people! :)

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55 Sandy M January 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

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

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56 Shari D January 5, 2010 at 10:06 am

I would like to work on curbing my spending this year.

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57 Mary January 5, 2010 at 10:10 am

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!)

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58 LaVonne Long January 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

My devotion time with God.

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59 Jennifer Short January 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I lost 23 pounds in 2009 and would like to double that in 2010!

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60 Wendy January 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Sounds like a good read and motivating.

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61 Kathy D January 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm

I need to work on being more more organized in my life as well as my time mangement

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62 Linda Kish January 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm

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

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63 Carolyn January 5, 2010 at 8:21 pm

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.

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64 Stephanie January 5, 2010 at 10:38 pm

This book is actually on my nightstand right now, waiting to be read. :)

Looking forward to it…

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65 Angela Winesburg January 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

I’d love to read this, thanks for the chance!

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66 JamericanSpice January 6, 2010 at 3:27 am

I’d love to work on my anger. At present Ithink I’m starting this journey.

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67 JamericanSpice January 6, 2010 at 3:27 am

subscriber

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68 JamericanSpice January 6, 2010 at 3:28 am

have your newsletter subscriptin

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69 JamericanSpice January 6, 2010 at 3:29 am

have the giveaway button

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70 Jessica Harwood January 6, 2010 at 11:09 am

I’d like to work on building meaning relationships and creating meaningful memories with my loved ones.

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71 Marjorie Whitney January 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

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

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72 Melissa D January 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm

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

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73 Mia J. January 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm

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.

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74 Lori January 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm

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!).

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75 Mary M January 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm

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.

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76 katklaw777 January 7, 2010 at 10:52 am

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

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77 K. Rock January 7, 2010 at 11:08 am

I am definitely working on my happiness. Trying to be content with what I have.

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78 Zayna Phillips January 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm

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.

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79 Becky K January 7, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I need to manage my stress; that’s my goal this year.

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80 karen January 8, 2010 at 6:12 am

I’d like find a better job this year.

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81 Vanessa January 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

I want to grow my website

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82 Belinda Shaw January 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I could use this great book for self motivation and self esteem improvement which I deperately need now.

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83 Aniela January 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm

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.

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84 Alexandrea M January 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

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.

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85 Amanda D. January 9, 2010 at 12:42 am

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

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86 Lori Taube January 9, 2010 at 12:52 am

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

clctaube @ yahoo.com

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87 Ellen Brower January 9, 2010 at 1:25 am

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!

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88 Erma January 9, 2010 at 6:22 am

My finances is one area I’m going to work on this year.

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89 Christina Sparks January 9, 2010 at 10:30 am

I want to lower my cholestrol and learn to speak up for myself.

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90 Carmela P January 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

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! :)

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91 Leonie C January 9, 2010 at 11:37 am

I resolved to work on decluttering my MENTAL and physical space

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92 Barbara January 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Thanks for the great contest! bahjeep@aol.com

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93 Marie January 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

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!

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94 Ed Nemmers January 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Happy January!

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95 Sheila Hickmon January 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm

One area I would like to work on is my weight!
Thanks!

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96 Kelly January 9, 2010 at 3:12 pm

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!

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97 Tricia Andrews January 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

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!

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98 alycep January 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm

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!

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99 Susan Smith January 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I want to work on saving more money.

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100 Diane Baum January 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I want to work on losing weight and motivation
Diane Baum
esldiane@gmail.com

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101 Tim Hughes January 9, 2010 at 6:25 pm

In 2010, I plan on working on enjoying life more and not being so serious.

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102 gloria January 9, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I would like to focus on getting in shape and trying to lose about 10 pounds.

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103 Winning Readings January 9, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I’ve got so much I want to work on – it’s hard to narrow things down! I guess I’d like to get organized and prioritized…

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/01/happiness-project.html

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104 Ashley January 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I need to focus on my cleanliness/organization. My apartment looks like a tornado hit it on most days.

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105 Kathy S January 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm

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.

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106 Kathy S January 9, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Raych:
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!

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107 shawna January 9, 2010 at 8:32 pm

My health…excercise more, eat healthier, get checkups!!

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108 livingtheloa January 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm

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

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109 Chrysa January 9, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I want to work on being more organized!

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110 Fionen January 9, 2010 at 11:58 pm

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

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111 Melanie January 10, 2010 at 2:07 am

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

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112 Karen January 10, 2010 at 2:59 am

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.

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113 oneangel January 10, 2010 at 6:52 am

Im pretty sure this is goin to be the happiest year of my life. I would love to enter.

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114 Lily Kwan January 10, 2010 at 7:00 am

I want to work on being more productive.

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115 Tracy P January 10, 2010 at 8:45 am

This looks like a great book. I would love to read it.

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116 kathy pease January 10, 2010 at 10:11 am

Thank you for the AWESOME GIVEAWAY.. Please count me in :)

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117 Beth (BBRB) January 10, 2010 at 10:55 am

This looks great! Please enter me!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

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118 Kerrie Mayans January 10, 2010 at 10:56 am

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.

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119 Gianna January 10, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Please enter me :)

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120 Patty Niedert January 10, 2010 at 3:25 pm

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

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121 Rita M January 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I recently saw the author on the Today Show & what she said really hit home – I’d love to read the book.

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122 Rebecca January 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm

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!

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123 Kelly Grant January 10, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Finding a better job.

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124 Veronica Garrett January 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I need to work on my finances.

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125 Kara Davis January 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I’m trying to work on my health. Particularly smoking!

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126 angie January 10, 2010 at 9:06 pm

family that is what I want to work in since my children are all growing and soon will be leaving the nest i want to make all the memories I can
shopannies@Yahoo.com

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127 Sand January 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Sounds like a great book! I need to work on my optimism.

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128 Kerri R January 10, 2010 at 11:06 pm

My goal is to focus more on taking care of me and my buisness

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129 heather c January 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I want to work on my health. Eating, fitness and mental.

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130 Katie January 11, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Discovered this book last week and would LOVE to win!

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131 Wanda January 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm

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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