Monday, February 2, 2015

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I had the wonderful opportunity to read this book with my partner in crime, Robert, and perhaps that has skewed my perception of this book. We read it chapter by chapter and took the time to talk about each chapter before moving on. He noticed and appreciated parts of the book that I overlooked. Within the first hundred pages Robert was zooming around the house picking up this and that, and whenever I asked what had gotten into him, he panted, “less than a minute,” before hurriedly moving onto the next task. Early in the book Rubin asks ‘if it takes less than a minute, why not get it done?’ Or something like that, because I was probably rolling my eyes too much during that part. I roll them even more now while watching Robert spend a collective 4 zillion minutes doing minute chores. But Robert loved that little nugget, so it just proves that this book has something for everybody, and I’m glad I shared it with him because not only did I get to read the book with two entirely different perceptions, I also learned more about Robert, who happens to be a large chunk of my happiness. Occasionally I’ll do one of those minute chores but I always allow for a healthy break between the minutes – at least a couple days.

What I loved about The Happiness Project:

* The Twelve Commandments and Secrets of Adulthood lists. First of all LISTS. And most importantly, they are thought-provoking and insightful lists. My favorite is ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’

* Concrete ideas and applications supported by quirky quotes from beloved movers and shakers of both past and present. Rubin is a reader and this is proven through her extensive implementation of ideas and sayings that she borrowed from other writers. Without question, the pieces I found most interesting in this book were not written by Rubin.

* The concept of taking pleasure in the “atmosphere of growth,” which, excitingly enough, is one of the crucial weapons I used to banish the terrible sadness I went through several years ago but I had no idea it had a name. I simply started appreciating all the little steps that I had to take in order to get to the ultimate goal and in doing so I was deriving more happiness from those steps than I was in the goal itself. A tiny example of this: when I am looking for books on a particular subject for a patron and each one is both a struggle and a victory I have no problem telling you that while I am overjoyed to make a patron happy, the greater pleasure is the search.

* Two words: FOG HAPPINESS. It’s the kind of happiness that’s elusive but absolutely legitimate. It’s the kind of happiness that you don’t recognize at the moment it’s doing its little party in your brain. I’ll use another library example. When I put a cart in order or am continuously receiving holds for a few hours it can feel very repetitive because it is, but at the same time there is a beauty and rhythm to putting things in order. Repetitive work gives your brain time to blossom, and the blossoming part is just as essential as stepping back and admiring the blooms.  

* The scrappy hat. As soon as I find a glue gun I’m going gangbusters gluing all my itty-bitty treasures to it.  

* The “fundamental attribution error.” I’ll use her example here: “When other people’s cell phones ring during a movie, it’s because they’re inconsiderate boors; if my cell phone rings during a movie, it’s because I need to be able to take a call from the babysitter.”

* Equally important is “spontaneous trait transference,” which is fancy lingo for 'the things you say about others stick to you.' A nice reminder to stop talking shit.  

* The bibliography is a wet dream for any bibliophile, especially those obsessed with self-help literature.


  1. You need to video Robert. That would be fun.

    Instead of a hat make a scrappy purse - canvas army green purse big enough to hold a book and put what ever you want on it. You can sew, pin, glue, anything and everything on it. I was going to do it but mom reminded me of my age.....