The happiness project

By Gretchen Rubin

Although content with life, working her dream job as a writer and married to the love of her life with two beautiful little girls, Gretchen Rubin decided one day she needed a radical change.

She decided that life was too short not to be as happy as she could be – truly, deeply happy. She chose to start focusing more on the things that really matter and not on the things that don’t. She went on a search and dedicated a whole year to studying happiness and trialling many different concepts and beliefs around ‘finding happiness’.

In this lighthearted and honest narrative, Gretchen openly shares the story of her year of exploring happiness. She relays her personal realisations, the funny moments, the all too relatable struggles of being a busy mum and everything in between. It’s one of those rare books that makes you laugh, makes you feel comforted and also makes you think. Here are 3 priceless lessons to take away from this delightful read:

Do what you love

It sounds so simple – why wouldn’t we do what we love? But Gretchen takes it a step further. She really gets you thinking – what do I really love to do? Which interests or hobbies come completely naturally to me? Gretchen gives a great example: she loves the idea of playing chess and she wishes she enjoyed it, but she just doesn’t.

Sometimes what we wish we enjoyed and what we really, truly enjoy can be confused. Gretchen’s solution? Do what you enjoyed doing when you were young because you’ll likely still find enjoyment from it. This simple piece of advice can be tremendously useful when deciding how to spend your spare time. Remember to still always be open to trying new things as you might find a new, real interest.

Love and gratitude come first

We already know the importance of love and gratitude. But sadly, we can lose sight of what really matters when we’re busy or stressed. Through catching herself before a snappy comment bursts out, keeping a gratitude journal, being more understanding and appreciative of her husband, and much more, Gretchen attempts to be more mindful of the bigger picture. She also practices mindfulness and learns the huge impact that mindfulness can have on overall wellness, energy levels and happiness.

Not all of our days can be our happiest…

…and that’s okay. At times throughout the book, Gretchen struggles with feeling moody and has a few of those ‘down days’ that we all experience from time to time. At times she even doubts if her whole project is having any effect on her happiness at all. But she pulls through these days, often learning something about herself in the process, or still managing to find something positive from the day.

Her mindful and accepting attitude of these situations sends a comforting message: happiness is complex, constantly changing and affected by an endless list of factors. Experiencing negative emotions is part of being human and these emotions should be mindfully accepted just as we accept our positive ones. Not all days will be our happiest and these days don’t define our overall happiness or success. There is usually something positive to come from our down days too, whether it be a lesson learnt, a warm cup of tea or a shoulder to lean on.

A hugely relatable and entertaining read, your time will definitely not be wasted reading this enlightening story.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this book and any lessons that you took away from it yourself!