>A week ago, I finished reading The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Ruben.  It was recommended to me months ago by a happy woman I met at one of my speaking gigs.
I confess there is a part of me that thinks that happiness is not cool.  As a sophisticated thinker in the modern age, I should understand that happiness is an unrealistic, naïve response to life .

The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings,
and you know how happy kings are.
-James Thurber.

For her happiness project, Gretchen Rubin studied happiness and created a list of personal commandments and a resolution chart. Each month for a year, she addressed a theme (vitality, marriage, work, parenthood  etc.) and acted on resolutions related to it .

In her parenthood month, for example,  her resolutions were

  • sing in the morning
  • acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings
  •  be a treasure house of happy memories
  •  make time for projects

She followed her progress in a blog and the book includes comments on the blog from readers who were participating in their own happiness projects.

This is the second book I’ve read this year in the new genre of “method journalism,” where the writer takes a year to do something and documents her process (Eat, Pray, LoveJulie and Julia).

As someone who loves process, I find it a delightful genre. I’m also cheered that it often uses a blend of old and new publishing technologies; blogs informing books engendering websites.

The Happiness Project also satisfies the obsessive-compulsive in me. Its reliance on charts and checkmarks is comforting. Ruben identifies her Resolution Chart as perhaps the most powerful tool of her happiness project.

The project is inspirational. The book is fun and engaging.

Along the Way, Rubin began a Happiness Project Toolbox website, which is an online community containing resources and stories of people embarked on their own happiness projects. It has become a Movement!

I’m not planning to create my own happiness project, but the process has added another blossom to my “what’s next” thinking bouquet.