The Happiness Project Read Along Part 1

New Year's Resolution Reading Challenge 2014

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin along with librarian-blogger Joy Weese Moll and others at Joy’s Book Blog. This inspirational self-help/memoir is a great choice for January – a month of resolutions and fresh starts. It’s not too late to join in and catch up on The Happiness Project read-along if you want to. I’ve read this book before, and also the follow-up book, Happier at Home, and liked both of them.

Discussion Questions

The Happiness Project Read Along badge
The Happiness Project is the Read Along book for The New Year’s Resolution Reading Challenge of 2014

1. The first question is borrowed from The Happiness Project Reading Guide at HarperCollins. Gretchen argues throughout The Happiness Project that striving to be happy is a worthy, not selfish, goal. Do you agree? Do you think that Gretchen was right, or not, to devote so much time and attention to her own happiness? Do you spend much time thinking about your happiness?
I didn’t think Gretchen was wrong to think about her happiness, although I know some readers complained that she had above-average quality of life to begin with. Her point about wanting to appreciate the good aspects of her life and be more mindful of feeling happy, in order to have a solid foundation already laid for when sorrow or hard times come into her life, made sense to me.

A quote from the book’s chapter, Marriage (p. 54):

I’d heard the aphorism “Happy wife, happy life”, or, put another way, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” At first I’d thought that sounded great – yippee, it’s all about pleasing me! – but if these sayings are true, it’s a tremendous responsibility. I’d wondered whether my happiness project was selfish, because it seemed self-indulgent to concentrate on my own happiness. True, I do make other people happy when I tend to my own happiness – I was trying not to snap at Jamie [the author’s husband] and to laugh at his jokes. But it went beyond that. By being happy myself, I was better able to try to make other people happier.

{skipping Question #2}

3. What idea from the first three chapters of The Happiness Project could you use today that would likely make you happier?
Since reading The Happiness Project the first time, I have tried with varied amounts of success to follow the author’s “one-minute rule” (not postponing any task that could be done in less than one minute) from the first chapter. Procrastination is a habit I’m working on breaking, so this rule, along with the author’s Fourth Commandment (“Do it now.”) is one I’m trying to put into practice right away.

4. What idea from the first three chapters of The Happiness Project are you pretty sure wouldn’t make you happier at all, even if it seems to work for Gretchen?

I’m a list-maker (though maybe not as compulsively so as the author, who says in the Vitality chapter that she sat down and made a five-page to-do list of nagging tasks that needed to be done). The list-making part of Gretchen’s ambitious Happiness Project makes sense to me, but for me, creating charts and keeping stats the way she does, doesn’t work. For whatever reason, I can never remember to check things off, mark them down, or tally them up.

5. What do you think of the structures that Gretchen uses to facilitate her Happiness Project? Would something like a Resolutions Chart help you? What about the concept of tackling a different theme each month?

I like the idea of tackling a different theme each month, but I know I won’t be that ambitious with a full-time job working outside the home. Maybe when I’m retired! For now, I’ll have to scale my Happiness Project down to a couple of themes, or maybe even just one.


Visit Joy’s Book Blog to join the group read or find more discussion of The Happiness Project.


8 thoughts on “The Happiness Project Read Along Part 1”

  1. Great post, stopping to think about the ‘nagging to do list’ making, I think that you might be right. That might be the least useful advice from these first three chapters. But with a bunch of disorder in my life because of a move, perhaps it’s just because my whole existence is a nagging to do list right now. 🙂

  2. I like that quote — a bit of a surprise to realize that it’s more about responsibility to take care of ourselves than it is about other people taking care of us.

    I learned the One Minute Rule, or some variation of it, from Getting Things Done by David Allen. Very useful when I remember to implement it!

  3. Great answers! I followed Rubin’s blog for a while and I learned about the 1 minute rule. Yes, definitely something to keep to!

    I learned from a different book (The One Thing) how to work on my goals, and I have two charts where I keep track every day whether I achieved (or worked towards) that goal that day. So far, 10 days in, it works!

    1. That’s great! I took a walk at lunchtime yesterday because I read in The Happiness Project that even five minutes of daylight stimulates production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that improve mood. I’m trying to get at least 20 minutes of exercise/walking in a day, too. We can give each other a gold star!

      1. Yes, let’s keep up the walking. I’ve got a fitbit to track the walking, and am trying to get to 7000 steps per day. It’s possible… but only if I take a walk every day. 🙂

      1. I only did a Dutch review on The One Thing (as I got the Dutch copy from the publishers), but I’m considering translating it to English. I find it such a great book!

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