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Book review: The Happiness Project

20130628-060821.jpgIn The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin spends a year doing her own Happiness Project. She takes advice from great thinkers, popular psychology and scientists, on a journey to find out what practical changes make the most difference to someone’s happiness.

The Happiness Project was created when Gretchen Rubin decided she wanted to dedicate a year discovering the practical changes that would make the most difference to her life and happiness. She started out by blogging about her project, and eventually published her insights as a book.

By reading and researching different ways of approaching and understanding happiness, she refines the essence of different philosophies, trying different ideas. For example, one of her methods is to come up with twelve ‘personal commandments’ to live life by – for example: ‘Let it go’, ‘Be polite and be fair’, ‘Act the way I want to feel’. The point is to find the commandments that make sense to you, and to define your own happiness project.

Over a year, the author covers one subject a month per chapter in areas that she felt needed attention. These subjects range from relationships, to devoting time to our passions and interests, to money and work, play and leisure, to improving energy. Essentially, slowing down and working on those things we don’t feel we have time for.

She also advocates for appreciating the simple things. Gratitude is an essential ingredient of happiness; taking the time to focus on what you are grateful for enhances a positive outlook. Thoughtful and practical, the book reflects on the nature of happiness itself which runs the scale from euphoria to contentment. Recognising these different aspects of happiness helped me to understand the value of feeling content.

After reading this book, I found that making small changes in my life did lead to both long and short term happiness and positivity. It gave me the confidence to change my habits and my attitude towards happiness – it is something you can create for yourself. To give you one example, I found that doing things when I wanted them done, rather than procrastinating and leaving things to the last minute (giving myself more time) made me feel much better.

If you feel stuck and need to be inspired then give this book a read: perhaps even embark upon your own happiness project…

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