A month-by-month project finds more ways to be happy

Bay Books owner Jeremy Burke started not to read The Happiness Project, reasoning that it’s a memoir about a year in a woman’s life. “Why would I want to read about her life?” he said. “But it just came out in paperback after being on the New York Times best seller list for a long time, and it has been a pick of book clubs. I was curious about it.”

This work of non fiction by Gretchen Rubin is in the vein of self help but doesn’t preach. One rainy afternoon while riding a city bus, she asked herself a question many people ask at one time or another: “What do I want from life?” Her answer was that she wanted to be happy. Yet, she realized she spent no time thinking about happiness. In that moment, she grasped that she wasn’t as happy as she could be and her life wasn’t going to change unless she made it change. She decided to dedicate a year to a happiness project.

“She’s married, has children and is basically happy,” Burke said, “but she isn’t just settling on what people think is the American Dream. Her project puts things in perspective about what’s important. I liked the book because I got to know her.”

There are twelve chapters in the book, outlining what Rubin does each month to increase her happiness. It covers everything from friendships to exercise, TV watching, novel writing, messy closets and the contemplation of infinity.

“With everyone’s life so busy, it’s a good thing to read,” Burke said. “It challenges us to find more fun, be silly, and go off on a different path. It’s the self help book that encourages everyone to do something different. Since each chapter is different, it can be picked up, put down and picked up again later without missing anything.”

Rubin is a graduate of Yale and Yale Law School where she edited the Yale Law Journal. She was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. The Happiness Project is her fourth book.

— Lynn Lofton, mbj@msbusiness.com

>> The Happiness Project
By Gretchen Rubin
Published by Harper Collins
$14.99 paperback

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