“The Happiness Project” | Book of the Month: January 2019

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One woman’s strive to increase her happiness

The Happiness Project recounts the year of Gretchen Rubin’s life in which she tried to make herself happier. This nonfiction, self-help book shows how Rubin followed many of the rules of happiness laid out by philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and Buzzfeed. She narrowed her project to the elements others had researched that directly affected her life and, over the course of the year, attacked each element one by one.

“One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life… ‘what do I want from life anyway?’ I asked myself. ‘Well…I want to be happy’” (1).

This novel opens up a conversation about what it realistically looks like to make yourself happy. It takes into consideration the trials of everyday life, money, environment, stresses and difficult relationships. Though Rubin has a specific career that allows for more free time, many people can adopt some of the same actions to their lives.

For example, Rubin tackles the idea of “a cluttered space makes for a cluttered mind.” During the month of January, Rubin found ways to manage this task in a realistic way. She began implementing ten minutes of “picking-up” before bed. Then, she was able to physically clear away the day to start fresh the next day, as well as clear some stress from the following morning.

Now, not all of the elements of this book can apply to everyone. Rubin addresses areas of her life like marriage, parenthood and personal interests. As a college student, I can’t apply myself completely to the actions taken to make myself happier through the development of marriage or being a parent, but I can take those ideas and apply them elsewhere. I can take the ideas of being silly and having fun from parenthood and apply that to the drain of the working world that I’m working toward. I can use a similar analysis of relationships and marriage to better my relationship with my parents and my boyfriend.

“…As I sat on the crowded bus, I grasped two things: I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change” (3).

The Happiness Project looks at the life of one person and how she applies actions to her schedule. Every other life works differently. Things won’t be able to be applied the same way. What you can take from this novel is that you deserve to be happy, in whatever form that takes. Also, it will take work and you need to work on the things that make you happy. This doesn’t mean you have to dedicate a year of your life to your happiness or force yourself through anything to become happier. But now, as we come to the end of January, it’s time to start a new resolution. Take some time to develop your happiness. Maybe even read a book.

 

Jill Ciampa is a professional writing major studying publishing, technical, and public policy writing. She enjoys spending time reading and watercoloring. She can usually be found traveling, watching Netflix, or trying to get someone to understand her French. Follow her @jiciam on Instagram.

Tags: book, book of the month, happiness, relationships, woman