A brief summary: "Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. 'The days are long, but the years are short,' she realized. 'Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter.' In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project." (from Goodreads)
My thoughts: Prior to reading this book, I had read Gretchen Rubin's blog (also titled The Happiness Project) and read many of her peers' work online. I was fascinated by the idea of happiness studies, mostly because the idea of studying happiness seemed so random and scattered.
This book is a personal journey—a memoir—where Gretchen Rubin both enhances her blog's content and adds new material. Her family is mentioned by name and given character and personality. You get a sense of Gretchen's personality as the book develops as well. I can kind of relate to her; I'm a list-maker, a task-doer, someone who likes structure and order.
At the same time, I always felt that Gretchen's blog was too hokey. I felt like it was preachy, and at times it seemed to miss the whole point of happiness. Spontaneity and fun and laughter seemed planned, stinted, or stiff.
This book isn't like that at all. But what I did find is that this book seems to speak more to the issue of mindfulness. Perhaps one of my 'splendid truths' is that mindfulness begets happiness. When a person is more mindful, he is more cognizant of his behavior and his actions.
I also think that this book sounds like a personal quest to feel right and to feel in control of one's own emotions and behaviors. I think the word 'happiness' makes cynics everywhere feel automatic scorn for the concept or the reasoning behind this book, but the undertaking is well-developed and actually quite interesting.
I find Gretchen to be an interesting and engaging narrator, though she certainly takes her happiness seriously. Even her lighthearted fun is quite serious in nature.