BOOK REVIEW: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted a book as much as I did with this one. ❤

gretchen

I don’t care about the other reviews that I’ve seen. I honestly learned a lot about the book. More than the everyday solutions and scenarios inside their house, there’s a lot of behaviors or mentality aspect that I find amusing. ❤ When I tell you there’s a lot, I mean there’a huge vault of information!!

Let me break down the the monthly resolutions of Gretchen in the book.

JANUARY (Boost Energy)

  • Sleep earlier
  • Exercise better
  • Organize
  • Act more energetic

To be honest, the first chapter was more common, obvious and repetitive. BUT, just continue reading. Okay?

FEBRUARY (Remember Love)

  • Quit Nagging
  • Don’t expect appreciation
  • Fight Right
  • No Dumping
  • Give proofs of love

Marital satisfaction significantly drops after the first child arrives. Small frequent gestures of thoughtfulness were more important than flowers on Valentine’s. What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while. 

Gretchen suggested that to avoid nagging, she found it useful to limit reminders to ONE WORD such as ‘camera’ or like ‘door’ and that chores DIDN’T NEED TO BE DONE ACCORDING TO ONE’S SCHEDULE. To add to that, she also practiced DOING IT HERSELF and to BE APPRECIATIVE of the other person’s efforts.

To avoid expecting appreciation, she needed to remind herself that she didn’t need her husband’s approval and whatever it is that she’s doing, whether it’s washing the dishes or taking out the trash, it’s because SHE’S DOING IT FOR HERSELF. That way, if the other person didn’t notice or said thank you or appreciate the gesture, there’s no need to sulk. ‘If you do it for other people, you end up wanting them to acknowledge it and to be grateful and to give you credit. If you do it for yourself, you don’t expect other people to react in a particular way. 

To be able to fight right, it is important to make ‘repair attempts’ by using words or actions to keep ad feelings from escalating and that you ACKNOWLEDGE OTHER PRESSURES IMPOSED ON THE OTHER PERSON such as feeling overwhelmed by the demands of work and keeping the house clean, etc. and to AVOID GENERALIZING PHRASES such as ‘you never’, you always’. How a couple fights matters more than how much they fight.

Here’s a fun fact! Men and women both turn to women for counsel, advice and for talking. Why? MEN AND WOMEN HAVE DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS ON INTIMACY! For women, it’s heart to heart conversations while men feel close when they are sitting beside each other. Get it? You might crave for a long conversation after playing video games with your husband but for him, playing is already your bonding!

Give proofs of love by DOING SMALL TREATS FOR YOUR SPOUSE. Often since we are always with our spouse, we tend to neglect or just take them for granted and one way to do that is to SPEND TIME ALONE TOGETHER and should HAVE AN OUTDOOR AND INDOOR GAME THEY PLAY TOGETHER. 

Also, she shared a marriage mantra — ‘I love ___, just as he is’. When you give up expecting a spouse to change, you lessen anger and resentment and that creates a more loving atmosphere in a marriage.

SEE THAT! I’m still in February and there’s so much insight and advice. ❤ Let me move on to March. KEEP READING.

MARCH (Aim Higher)

  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now

Enthusiasm is more important to mastery than innate ability because the single most important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice. 

We seek to control our lives but the unfamiliar and the unexpected are important sources of happiness. It’s because an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think. 

LEARN NEW SKILLS. Challenges allows you to expand your self definition. The more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened. — which is so true by the way! Right? Imagine if you are a financial banker with a side hustle of being a teacher and running a bakeshop. When one fails, you still have the other two! A new identity brings you new people and new experiences.

In order to be successful, YOU NEED TO BE WILLING TO ACCEPT MORE FAILURE. And to be more accustomed to this mindset, she kept telling herself ‘It’s fun to fail. It’s part of being ambitious. It’s part of being creative. IF SOMETHING IS WORTH DOING, IT’S WORTH DOING BADLY.  And in working smart, Gretchen noted that SMALL EFFORTS, MADE CONSISTENTLY, BROUGHT SIGNIFICANT RESULTS. 

APRIL  (Lighten Up)

  • Sing in the morning
  • Acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
  • Be a treasure house of happy memories
  • Take time for projects

Lighten up by simply REFRAMING YOUR MIND and DECIDING that YOU ENJOY DOING IT, whatever it may be. Gretchen also dropped this phrase that really struck me and that is THE DAYS ARE LONG, BUT THE YEARS ARE SHORT. Such a powerful phrase to remind us what matters.

To be a treasure house of happy memories, she practiced KEEPING PHOTOS and KEEPING FAMILY TRADITIONS. Traditions make occasions feel special and exciting. MAKE TIME FOR LITTLE PROJECTS as they reconnect us with sources of ‘feeling good’ that we’ve outgrown.

MAY (Be serious about Play)

  • Find more fun
  • Take time to be silly
  • Go off the path
  • Start a collection

I think the key work of her first resolution is ACTIVELY FIND MORE FUN. Why? because the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy. Also, she stumbled upon this realization which I believe we should all contemplate on and that is just because something was fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for me. I think it’s more important to stop thinking what other people might think and to start being true to yourself. Gretchen suggested that when you do figure out what you find fun, FIND A GROUP OR A CLUB WHO LIKES THE SAME THINGS AS YOU DO. Why? because it makes people feel closer and brings a significant boost in personal confidence and happiness.

Look at those things that do have a beauty in your life and look at them more and more. 

TAKE TIME TO BE SILLY because there’s this emotional contagion where we unconsciously catch emotions from other people. GO OFF THE PATH by EXPANDING YOUR INTERESTS. Gretchen included a quote from Matthew Arnold, ‘All knowledge is interesting to a wise man’.

JUNE (Make time for Friends)

  • Remember birthdays
  • Be Generous
  • Show up
  • Don’t gossip
  • Make three new friends

The first part of the chapter, GR established that make time for friends is sometimes not literally just time. She imparted resolutions such as BE GENEROUS because according to studies, happiness is often boosted by providing support to other people than receiving one. And to be generous, she further broke it down to HELPING PEOPLE THINK BIG, BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER AND CUTTING PEOPLE SLACK. Words of enthusiasm and confidence from a friend can inspire one to tackle an ambitious goal. In bringing people together, some suggested to have a ‘Bring another friend’ dinner or in parties. To cut people some slack, we need to REMIND OURSELVES THAT PEOPLE’S LIVES ARE FAR MORE COMPLICATED THAN THEY APPEAR FROM THE OUTSIDE. A big part of friendship is  SHOWING UP. Based from her experience, she immediately set up dates to see her friends.

MAKING NEW FRIENDS will expand one’s world by providing an entrance to new interests, opportunities and experiences.  If you are not friendly, GH suggested some resolutions to make it easier such as ACT FRIENDLIER, act the way you want to feel. SMILE FREQUENTLY. A study showed that people tend to like people who they think likes them. This makes sense as I find it true for me. 😛 ACTIVELY INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN THE CONVERSATION, CREATE A POSITIVE MOOD and OPEN A CONVERSATION. How? one suggested to learn something newsworthy on Google so you have something to talk about. LEARN TO SHOW INTEREST and ASK QUESTIONS about the other person.

JULY (Buy some Happiness)

  • Indulge in modest splurge
  • Buy needful things
  • Spend out
  • Give something up

Money, spent wisely, can support happiness goals of strengthening relationships, promoting health, having fun and all the rest. SPEND MONEY WHERE IT MATTERS TO YOU. Some examples of modest splurge are good knives, quality pillows or remodeling a certain part of the house or if you’re really into children lit, a complete set of Wizard of Oz. Also, she expounded that the MORE YOU HAVE, THE HAPPIER YOU’LL BE IS WRONG. Why? because according to GH, a constant stream of luxuries can take away the savor.

In Buying needful things, I learned that there are an underbuyer and overbuyer. I’m always the overbuyer. 😛 in some aspects I think. A research also proved what I thought and that is people think they like variety more than they do but if there are options and asked what they would choose, one always picks the same thing every time. 😛 Exactly me with clothes. 😛 In Spending out, USE WHAT YOU HAVE. Don’t wait for a special occasion to use something.

AUGUST (Contemplate the Heavens)

  • Read memoirs of catastrophe
  • Keep a gratitude notebook
  • Imitate a spiritual master

GH started with Philosopher Boethius saying ‘Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things. THINK ABOUT DEATH, LIVE FULLY AND THANKFULLY IN THE PRESENT. As William Edward Lecky said, ‘There’s a time in the lives of most of us when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over us unappreciated and unenjoyed”. This hits home!! GAHH.

SEPTEMBER (Pursue a passion)

  • Write a blog
  • Make time
  • Forget about results
  • Master a new technology

DO WHAT YOU DO. Whatever you enjoyed doing as a ten year old or something you choose to do on a Saturday Afternoon and MAKE TIME FOR IT and TREAT IT AS A PRIORITY. 

In forgetting about results, GH mentioned that what makes a passion enjoyable is that you don’t have to worry about the results. An atmosphere of growth brings great happiness but it sometimes comes when you’re free from the pressure to see much growth. ENJOY WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANT TO DO.

OCTOBER (Pay Attention)

  • Meditate on koans
  • Examine True Rules
  • Stimulate mind in new ways
  • Keep a food diary

I was AMAZED by the KOANS! I didn’t know such existed!! Okay, to further elaborate, a Koan is a question or statement that can’t be understood logically. Aside from the koan, HEURISTICS! and GH actually shared some very valuable TRUE RULES that she has been observing such as My husband is my priority at all times, Get some work done every day, I know as much as most people, Try to attend a part that I’m invited to. Some people also shared, Always say hello. What would my mother do?, Things have a way of turning out for the best and People succeed in groups.

NOVEMBER (Keep a Contented Heart)

  • Laugh out loud
  • Use good manners
  • Give positive reviews
  • Find an area of refuge

FIND REASONS TO FIND THINGS FUNNY, LAUGH OUT LOUD AND APPRECIATE OTHER PEOPLE’S HUMOR. According to Tolstoy, ‘Nothing can make our life more beautiful than perpetual kindness’. 

DECEMBER (Boot Camp Perfect)

Even when a day was bad, it had bright spots. 

 

 

Who here has read the book? and for those who haven’t Have I convinced you enough? Honestly, we all have the time now and with what is happening in the world, we all need to ACTIVELY FIND AND OR DO WHAT MAKES US HAPPY. Right? So read this book. ❤ 

And if you happen to like this post, please spread some kindness and like this post, leave a comment and subscribe to my blog. ❤  

 

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