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The Happiness Project

Written by: Gretchen Rubin
Narrated by: Gretchen Rubin
Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
4 out of 5 stars (69 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of best-selling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the 12 months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her - and what didn't. Her conclusions are sometimes surprising - she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference - and they range from the practical to the profound.

As an added bonus, this recording includes a sampling of Gretchen's podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. In this episode, "Choose the Bigger Life", Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, discuss happiness, good habits, and whether Gretchen is going to get a dog.

©2009 Gretchen Rubin (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

What the critics say

"Packed with fascinating facts about the science of happiness and rich examples of how she improves her life through changes small and big. The Happiness Project made me happier by just reading it." (Bookpage.com)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Unparalleled Joy to Read

Rubin writes in a clear concise and approachable way about the wonders of everyday happiness. Positively floored.

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Narrator bad voice.

Overall book is great however the most terrible narrator as she is so fast Returned the audiobook & got my credit back.

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Great overview of happiness strategies

A great overview of strategies and different approaches to happiness and making one's self happier.
Could have been a little more based in science or at least measured a bit more, though I admit it's a bit hard to measure such a thing.
The viewer comment sections could have been separated from the rest of the book a bit better. It's often difficult to tell where a quote ends and Gretchen's 'voice' begins again. Another reader/voice actor, or a distinctly different put-on voice would make it easier on the listener.
Still overall a helpful and happy listen.

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a waste of time

Returned this inaudible book recommended by a friend.Authors should not assume they can narrate or pronounce worda properly. As for content, this is the kind of bromide talk shows a la Oprah thrive on. Not for the serious happiness seeker.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Should give it a try

A lot of what she's working through is based off of taking the more positive route. Quite fun and has inspired me to make some changes!

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My first but definitely not my last

PROS: the author/narrator has a fantastic sense of humor; the audiobook was easy to listen to, even when I sped it up a bit; it includes simple times and tricks to boost one’s happiness that I have already begun to incorporate into my lifestyle; and facts have been backed up by research that is presented in an easy-to-understand manner.

CON: some sections of the audiobook aren’t as gripping as others and I have been known to doze off.

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT TO A FRIEND? Absolutely! There is something for everyone in this audiobook, regardless of if you are looking to do a major life-overhaul, or are just looking for ways to bring a bit more joy to your life.

#Audible1

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I choose happy

I was not disappointed when I listened to this book.I liked the easy flow of how the information was presented as Gretchen presented her happiness project. Lots of great practical tips to lead a happier life. It really highlights how little changes can have a big effect on your daily happiness. #Audible1

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Book that made me happy

A great easy listen. Author sets on a mission to be more happy. While she is an accomplished professional with great family and no money problems, I urge you to not write her off so fast. Its hard to be happy. Rich people can hate their life,while low income family can be extreme happy. Life has choices all over the place and being happy is a choice. Being happy is not a movie perfect moment that falls on you. You work on being happy, you put yourself in situation that could be uncomfortable, you take yourself out of comfort zone, you work on your relationships and you exercise your body and mind to do better. The author explores various ways she can gain more happiness and with a little imagination you can apply all these lessons to your life as well.

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Finding Happiness Through Monthly Themes

I enjoyed the discoveries the author made on her quest to become happier as she incorporated different themes throughout each month to help her with her goal.

The book talks about her experiences & her observations which helped me examine my own life & incorporate some small ways to become a little happier myself!

#Audible1

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Very Inspiring

Loving this book! Gretchen is so authentic, real, and shares in such an honest way how she learned to see where her attitude could’ve been better, where her life could be less cluttered, and where SHE could choose to see things differently. Very inspired to do my own happiness project. #Audible1

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  • kensipe
  • 2012-07-30

Great Book and Story

What made the experience of listening to The Happiness Project the most enjoyable?

I'm a general happy person living with someone who is commonly negative or depressed. I originally bought it to see if there was something I could learn to help her. However... I loved the book and I am thinking of starting my own happiness project because of it.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

There is one small frustration with the reading of the book... There are points in the book where what is being read are comments from blog readers or from some other source. From an audible book stand point, it is really hard to know when the comments / opinions being read are the authors or someone else. It is hard to know when the reader has switched back to reading book author material. minor issue, but frustrating.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Brian
  • Brookfield, WI, United States
  • 2011-03-14

Disappointed

I had great hopes for this audio book. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The author seems like a very nice person and writes in a very casual conversational style. The problem is this book reads more like a diary or blog of a person's journey to find happiness. Cool right? That's what the book is supposed to be about. The problem is that my listening of this book felt like I was on the author's journey towards happiness and she did not take me along for the ride.

I think in spending several hours listening to this audio book I didn't learn anything on how to personally become more happy even though I learned all about the author's life and her struggles toward happiness, criticism and relationships especially with her sister and husband. We learn all about the author being an attorney and a writer and her internal struggles.

I wanted this book to be good, but unfortunately I left disappointed. If you're looking for a book in this particular area I would highly recommend: Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom...Why the Meaningful Life is Closer Than You Think Audiobook which I would put in my list of the top 20 books best I ever read.

This book is set up in a way that the author is working on one principle of happiness each month and basically shares with you her experience. That's the problem the book is written in a nonjudgmental style toward what you should pursue while almost seeming self-righteous about how the author is pursuing happiness her own life. Unfortunately unlike most audio books which I feel a close connection with the author this one left me feeling uncomfortable.

126 of 132 people found this review helpful

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  • Molly
  • NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA, United States
  • 2013-08-22

Shallow and Disappointing

Any additional comments?

I had high hopes for this book, but it just didn't live up to the hype. I might have had more appreciation for it if I had read the actual book rather than listening to the author's narration of it. I really disliked the narration. What disappointed me most was just how superficial it all seemed to me. I expected something deep and enlightening, but this wasn't it.

32 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carole A. Cornell
  • Collierville, TN USA
  • 2010-02-01

The Happiness Project

I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it - and then wanted the hardcover edition as well. I'm inspired to start my own happiness project. This book opened my eyes to ways that I can increase not only my happiness but also that of people around me. It made me happy!

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tarabella
  • 2010-02-14

The gift that keeps on giving...

This book was an awesome lucky find. I shy away from anything that sounds "self-helpish" but this book gives the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, I listened to it twice and then went out and purchased the book and will purchase more for family. This book is a great source of reality. We are responsible, in most part, for our own happiness. I guess we all just need an example to show us how to start. I love the web pages and the stories from others. Now if I could only find the Orange Blossom candle, I'd be set. This book has helped me recognize my truths and has made me actively count my blessings. The best line, "the days are long but the years are short."

53 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • Maria
  • California, USA
  • 2012-04-12

Fantastic project!

What did you love best about The Happiness Project?

Perhaps what I loved the most was the invitation to participate, in my very own way, into this fun journey of joy within the beautiful simplicity of my day to day life. I appreciated the very honest approach, and sharing, of the author's life experiences throughout her year of happiness.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gretchen, of course, but I also loved listening about her relationships with her in-laws and her husband/daughters.

Which scene was your favorite?

I do have a few months of her project that I found particularly inspiring and probably the ones I was able to connect the most with such as August, the month dedicated to contemplating the heavens; September, the month she dedicated to write a novel and spending more time with books as well as November when the concept of laughing out loud while lightening one's attitude came about.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were plenty of moments, but the one that comes to mind right now, is when she realized that her bus ride to school in the mornings with her daughter was that magical moment of her every day that was never going to be there again. That moment when she realized this and it became such a happiness producer for her, reminded me of a similar situation I have gone through this year. Since last September, I have been driving my daughter to her first year of high school for her zero period class (which means that I have to be up at 5:00 a.m. every morning in order to make it on time.) At the beginning it was such a struggle for me until I realized, like Gretchen, that this is it: the magic is happening right now. And I have loved every minute of every early morning since then!

Any additional comments?

So looking forward to her new upcoming book, "Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life."

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole
  • 2015-10-16

I just can't...terrible narration & bad advice.

Would you try another book from Gretchen Rubin and/or Gretchen Rubin?

Probably not. She is terribly boring and too monotone to be narrating. I don't actually think she was successful in her happiness project.

What could Gretchen Rubin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

She shouldn't narrate. Also, to be frank, she sounds like an UNHAPPY person, still, even though she supposedly went through this year of attempting happiness. Honestly, I feel like she missed the whole point. The book may have been more enjoyable read by a more lively person but, I just think it's a bad self-help book too because it's totally subjective to her life and doesn't make me feel motivated to take any of the same steps she took.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

She was a terrible story teller, boring, monotone, and clearly just an achievement focused person who's view of happiness is, in my opinion, very skewed. It was also very difficult to tell the difference between when she was talking from first person or as someone else.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe...only because perhaps it would be better portrayed by other actors.

Any additional comments?

As a therapist, I feel the need to advise people NOT to follow this woman's advice or even look to this book as a guide to happiness. It seems that, what may come off as funny if read directly from the book, is actually Gretchen's attempt to make light of times when she is actually quite unhappy....WHICH IS HEALTHY AND NORMAL TO BE. She puts a lot of blame on her husband for petty things and plays it off as "loving his quirks" when clearly, you can tell throughout that she is still pissed at him and seeking his approval through the project. Maybe I haven't gotten to it yet, but she rarely talks about how happiness simply comes from being in whatever state you're in, instead of trying to plan happiness. She rarely talks positively about her family, she admits she's motivated by "gold stars" and its obvious throughout that she is just seeking another big golden star by writing and selling this. If you want to listen to a woman's struggle with bringing her boring life somewhat more color, then you might like this. Besides some statistics, which I think are irrelevant to happiness anyway, this is not a useful book.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharvo
  • 2016-01-11

weary

some interesting ideas... early on got weary of hearing blog comments ... felt like filler.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judy
  • North Kingstown, RI, United States
  • 2010-04-01

FULL of herself!

Yup, the writer of this book is over-the-top full of Gretchen! Even with that rather annoying aspect, I have listened to this fully about 3 times. I actually bought the book. I really had to get over Gretchen in order to benefit from what are rather good messages and strategies for becoming more awake and aware, of living in a state that supports happiness. I'm grateful to Gretchen even though she subjected me to things like writing a novel while she worked out a exercise program while she was extra nice to her husband while she planned a birthday party par excellence for her mother-in-law while she created family archives, and on and on, almost all simultaneously. She breaks it up into months, but the activity is so frenetic and so intense and constant that it can be exhausting. The best part is perhaps Gretchen's honesty although even that is excessive.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Martina
  • ParosGreece
  • 2010-02-26

Made me happy

This book inspired me a lot. It was interesting to listen to and well narrated. It was so packed with details that I'm sure I missed half and will definitely listen to it again. I'm a great fan of the project.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • kaczka aurore
  • 2016-05-04

Boring!

I just get bored.
Good subject full of promess but at the end just an enumeration of facts. Nothing to keep the "reader" on hold.
I haven't finished to listen to this book.