The Happiness Project is a self-help/memoir from writer Gretchen Rubin, who embarked on a year long project to be happier. At the start of the ‘project’ she came up with a list of twelve commandments, as well as a list of lessons she has learnt throughout life, which she calls ‘the secrets of adulthood’. The format of the book is quite simple – each month, she tackles a different resolution and figures out what works and what doesn’t and also makes some attempt to get theoretical and understand why things work. Resolutions include being tidier, more organised etc, stop fighting with her husband, have more fun with her kids etc.
Confession – I didn’t finish the book. I have read about half the book, but I am giving up because, I hate to say it, the book is so very boring! Reading it has become a chore and I feel that if I stick with it, it will take me another 3 weeks to finish (I’ve given it a week of reading). I think there are two reasons why I just couldn’t connect to the book and the writing. One – pretty much everything she writes about has no relevance to me. I am not married, I don’t have kids, I don’t care if my flat is messy – so I just don’t need lessons on how to fight better with my husband or how to have more fun with my kids. Second – I really haven’t warmed to Gretchen at all. I don’t care if she is happy – in fact by reading her waffle she has made me unhappy, so I sort of want to inflict some of that unhappiness back on her. Maybe I am missing the point, but reading about a privileged woman who seemingly has it all – career she loves, loving husband, beautiful kids – moan about how she isn’t unhappy but could be happier just isn’t inspiring. It’s patronising. And a waste of time. I don’t really get on with self help books, not that I have read many, because I just find them very cliched…. if I were to write a self help book then I would make sure it was funny! And relevant. And actually written to the reader as a peer, not ‘I have conquered my demons, if you do what I say then you might too’. So I am sorry to say, I don’t have much time for this book. Anyway – rant over! I am going to go back to being ‘unhappy’ by Gretchen’s standards, but perfectly happy by mine!