Wednesday, 28 March, 2012

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I've been somewhat busy with things so I haven't been reading as much I would like to. I am almost halfway through " Why the West Rules for now" by Ian Morris. But its a big book (in small print) with graphs, maps and tables. And though it is very interesting and I will finish it, I wanted a quick fix in the meantime. So I decided to pick up "The Happiness Project". With such a title I was sure of a happy ending. As the back of the book describes, its a cross between a Self-Help book and a Memoir. 

Gretchen Rubin, a Lawyer tuned writer realizes that though she's not unhappy in life, she's not as happy as she could be. Since she also realizes that like most ordinary people, she can't take off on a three-country self discovery trip like Ms. Gilbert, she decides to make small changes in her existing life to remove sources of guilt, worry and negative feeling and enhance and introduce sources of happy feelings. I don't look down on self help books. In fact I strongly feel that for some people and for all people in some situations, a book might hold the answer you are looking for. But this book belongs more in the self-help shelves, than fiction or memoir shelves. Also, whether you will like this book or not depends alot on the phase of life you are going through. I am currently in a "Makeover" phase and I want to make big sweeping changes so the small easy-to-execute happiness steps didn't appeal to me that much. I think I will re-read it when I'm 40. 

The book also has one line summaries of almost all studies published on happiness and that makes an interesting read. Some of the resolutions and "truths" she adopts will definitely bring happiness to anyone who makes the effort. Plus, shes very human in the book. She fails repeatedly, she's mean and grumpy even when she's trying not to be and she accepts herself and her limitations. The best point this book makes is that being happy is something we should all pursue actively. Waiting passively for good things to come and happiness to spread is not such a good idea. You are responsible for your own happiness. I would recommend this book for a lazy vacation. You could read it if you're looking for practical and simple ways to make your days  more pleasant. And I would also recommend this book as a gift to all Mommies. As far feel good factor goes, it was worth every Rupee. I was happy all the while I was curled up reading the book.

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