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2011-12-21

How to be happier - with a little help from Gretchen


I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin's very good book "The Happiness Project" (2009), her story about how she for an entire year worked practically and psychologically to become happier. She did this in the everyday family life she already had, instead of traveling to some other place to realize herself.

This is not a traditional self-help book, but a true and very rational story of how a privileged person didn't feel happy enough, started to read a lot of about the science and psychology of happiness - and managed through defined steps to change her mindset and habits and thus become happier in the process.

You don't have to read the book to learn from her experiences or follow her advice. She has a free "tool box" website with seven practical points to follow, and on her blog you can read about her experiences that year.

And if you want to buy the book for inspiration, check out the e-book edition (Amazon US or Amazon UK) or the paperback edition (Amazon US or Amazon UK)

Remember that you can use e.g. the free e-book software Calibre for PC and Mac to automatically convert any e-books you buy (including Kindle) to your device's format, it's very easy.

And fueled by Rubin's ambitions and success, I hereby declare that January will be the start of my own happiness project. Of course we all want to be happy, but I want to make it truly my priority from now on. Because if I am happy, I can be a better person for everyone else in my life and better know what I want.


Here's the publisher's description of her book:
"Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could - and, arguably, should - be happier. Thus, her methodical (and bizarre) happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and 'acting more energetic').

By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good, not perfect (in accordance with one of her 'Secrets of Adulthood': 'Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good'), but Rubin's funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research (including all those other recent books on happiness) to qualify as self-help.

Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. Rubin's project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy."
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