The Happiness Project – Overview.

I first came across Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, last summer at Powell’s Books in Portland.  I loved the title.  I loved the bookstore.  I loved being in Portland.  I expected to love reading the book as much as I enjoyed the experience of finding the book.  But as life sometimes does, it got in the way, and the book sat on my shelf until just last night.

A friend’s Facebook post about her own Happiness Project sent me hunting for this book.  Ah – the power of Facebook.  Anyway, I found it on a shelf in my kitchen (because every room in my house is devoted in part to being a library).  I read the preface “Getting Started” last night and knew instantly that I would be a fan of the book.

First of all, the writing is conversational  and easy to read.  Nothing turns me off of a book more quickly than having to re-read something to make sense of it.  I can tell from the first few paragraphs that I will not have that problem with this book.  Second, I learned in the fourth paragraph that Gretchen Rubin is a lawyer-turned-writer.  That gives her instant credibility – instant pedestal status – in my mind.  Third, this woman talks about a methodical way of tackling different aspect of her life to make it happier.  That struck me because most people don’t associate to-do lists and projects as the path towards a happier life.  But she writes, “I wanted to perfect my character, but, given my nature, that would probably involve charts, deliverables, to-do lists, new vocabulary terms and compulsive note taking.”  My goodness, I have found a woman after my own heart.  Finally, I love her recognition that a happy life can be made better – that by taking on this project, she was not suggesting that life was unhappy.  She was, instead, recognizing that there was room for improvement.  I agree completely.  There always is  room for improvement.

She got my attention with her preface.  I’m in.  I want my own Happiness Project. 

So what’s my plan? 

  1. Read all the way through the book to get a sense for what she tackled in her own life and how.
  2. Develop my own Commandments, though I know I will steal from Gretchen and make the first “Be Taline.”  That is sometimes my greatest challenge.  (For a list of Gretchen’s commandments, see her website.)
  3. Identify ten or twelve aspects of my life that I want to improve.  Again, I’m sure I’ll steal from Gretchen on some of these categories.  Hers were vitality, marriage, work, parenthood, leisure, friendship, money, eternity, books, mindfulness, attitude, and happiness. 
  4. Develop the specific tasks towards each of my own categories. 
  5. Get to work on executing the tasks.

Gretchen started on January 1 and spent a year on her project – one month for each category she identified.  My plan is to start on June 1 and to spend six months.  Why?  My birthday is in December, and I want my celebration to include a celebration of having spent the better part of the year developing and implementing ways to make life a little better.

Here are my deadlines:

  1. Finish reading the book by May 1.
  2. Develop commandments by May 7.
  3. Identify the aspects I want to improve by May 14.
  4. Develop the tasks by May 28.
  5. Develop a tracking system/chart by May 31.

I invite anyone who wants to do their own Happiness Project to join me! 

I considered soliciting your thoughts on categories I might want to tackle, but then I remembered Commandment 1. Be Taline.  So I will come up with my own tasks.  See, it’s working already.

4 thoughts on “The Happiness Project – Overview.

  1. Great post – and at 5:01 a.m.! Wish I could wake up early and be productive like that on a weekend. When I was growing up, my father used to often remind me of the saying, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise." I used to think it was corny and annoying, but as I get older it seems that those three things can be core components of happiness overall. Good job!

  2. inspirational as always. I've read many books on happiness and self coaching, but never thought of a happiness project. how do you suggest I could join you? First June is as good a time as any to start. All the best.

  3. I think my favorite commandment of yours will be your first: Be Taline. Simple and you are a beautiful, incredible person. Hope you exceed your happiness expectations!

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