Happiness Project: 30 Days to Happiness

Gretchen Rubin wrote two books about happiness, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project. My wife and I read them. We weren’t big fans of the style and I was less a fan of her definition of happiness which, as far as I could tell, meant, “positive emotions.” She doesn’t define it as pleasure, she’s not a hedonist, but in my mind any definition of happiness that leaves out virtue is incomplete.

The concept in the books is that she takes month long periods to work on her happiness with respect to different aspects of her life: money, energy, body, relationships, love, etc. The books are worth reading or at least perusing for this reason.

The concept of chunking your life in order to marathon certain projects and to spend 30 days building specific habits that will be easy to maintain before moving on to the next thing is simply brilliant.

Of course, such things can be very frustrating. For instance, my wife and I decided to spend a month devoted to fixing nagging problems around our rent house, buying useful items to help us enjoy the space more, and gaining certain habits: check outside daily for damage (windy city) and garbage (trashy neighborhood), sweep more regularly, and water plants (despite high humidity, summers easily soar above 100 and the ground dries out). The amount of things that break right after I fix other things, tools that are broken out of the box from stores, and hardware stores with precisely the things I’m looking for being sold out is simply astounding.

While these two books weren’t favorites, the concept in them and reading her implementation is worth purchasing at least one of the books to help her out. And most people get way more out of the books than I did (in terms of small tips and pleasure reading), but I’m not sure I know anybody who has tried month long stretches of thematic happiness enhancing activity.

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