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The Happiness Project

A writer sets out on a year-long quest to find happiness.

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Before I even finished the book, I had already preordered multiple copies of Gretchen Rubin’s latest title, 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. Which means if you’re looking for an enlightening, laugh-aloud read, get the book and forget the rest of this review. If you need more convincing, let me count the monthly ways....

Gretchen Rubin already had a pretty good life. She’s married to the man of her dreams, has two “delightful” daughters, is a bestselling author with a Yale law degree, is healthy, and lives in her favorite city surrounded by supportive family and friends. But she’s also prone to misbehavior that undermines her well-being: she loses her temper over trivial things, and fights melancholy and insecurity, not to mention that unshakable guilt.

One morning on a city bus, Rubin had a startling epiphany: “I was suffering from midlife malaise – a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief ... ‘Is this really it?’” Asking herself what she really wanted, her answer seemed simple: “I want to be happy.” Like most of us, she “had never thought about what made [her] happy or how [she] might be happier.” But unlike most of us, she actually figured out how: “I decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier.” And she gives the rest of us great hope because she did so without making radical changes like running off to Indonesia. Rubin assures us, “I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.”

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