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The Happiness Project is something that has been done before, but this doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable and enlightening reading experience. The book is presented as a memoir of author, Gretchen Rubin’s, year-long journey of research, discovery, trial, error, and progress, to find more happiness in her life. She takes the reader along for the ride as she learns and tests out new ideas, like gratitude journaling and organizing personal spaces, for herself and her family. This enables the reader to develop a sense of things that he or she can take away to try to improve his or her own life. Rubin’s research is thorough, and her suggestions for ways to boost mood and living conditions are abundant in each chapter. My only criticism is that she tries so many different techniques over the course of the year that applying all the new options is a daunting task for most readers.

Rubin begins her story by outlining how she plans her project for the year: she chooses a topic or theme to tackle each month, such as vitality, marriage, work, parenthood, leisure, friendship, money, eternity, books, mindfulness, attitude, and happiness. For each month she reads about the topics and develops tangible goals for how to improve her life in these areas. For marriage, for example, she sets out to: quit nagging, don’t expect appreciation, fight right, no dumping, and give proofs of love. In putting her goals to practice through daily charts, she creates a real-life story of how she influences her own happiness over time. Along the way, she inspires readers with options to choose to try at home, and she provides assistance with the blog she creates while completing her own project. The only limitation is that she gathers so much information it may be hard for a reader to organize.

Rubin admits that the wealth of information she discovers is hard to juggle at times. She mentions, that she is overwhelmed with work, family, friends-life’s responsibilities. Still, this is a book about attaining happiness, so the author gets caught up in the positive aspects of the process. She discusses so many terms and concepts she is applying to her own life that she fails to mention how daunting it is to change patterns of behavior and ways of living. While it is true that making changes can lead to happiness, isn’t it also important to mention the stress and hard work that goes into them? Often, the application of the happiness project seems easy, when nothing in life is that simple.

Overall, Rubin’s year of positive education and growth is informative, reflective and inspiring. Rubin finds herself absorbed in the subject matter, which directly influences the reader. It should be noted that she makes some of her goals seem easy to achieve. But, her ability to influence readers to follow in her footsteps and make changes for the better in their own lives makes her story one worth reading.

4 out of 5 Stars

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