The Happiness Project – Book Review

The Happiness Project (Revised Edition): Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun


As I’ve always been a “glass half full” kind of person and an infuriating optimist, the premise of this book intrigued me. Having had my own epiphany in 2015, “I have all these great things in my life. On paper I’m successful but why am I so unhappy?”, I found a lot of  inspiration and some new “happiness hacks” (as Rubin describes them on her podcast) to try out. Personally, I love coming down to a clean living room in the morning, my gratitude journal daily practice and when I make time to do something creative.

I now strongly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project to my coaching clients who have the same sensation of dissatisfaction, of wanting more from themselves but are feeling a bit guilty that all this navel gazing is  rather selfish and self centred.

Rubin states “happier people are more likely to help other people, they’re more interested in social problems…They’re less preoccupied with their personal problems. They’re friendlier. They make better leaders”.  “Emotional contagion” works both ways and both positive and negative moods are catching.

According to the 4th World Happiness Report published in 2016, my adopted nation of Japan is pretty miserable at 53rd on the list, and my home country of the UK lies at 23rd. There is “growing global interest in using happiness and subjective well-being as primary indicators of the quality of human development.”  So let’s ditch the idea that focusing on happiness is “trivial” and start seeing it as way to measure human progress, shall we?

So now you are on board, where to start?

Coaching Application – Questions about “Happiness”

Rubin recommends the following questions as a great way to begin your search for happiness:

  1. What makes you feel good? What gives you joy,energy, fun?
  2. What makes you feel bad? What brings you anger, guilt, boredom, dread?
  3. What makes you feel right? What values do you want your life to reflect?
  4. How can you build an atmosphere of growth – where you learn, explore, build, teach, help?



Key Takeaways

“It is easy to be heavy, hard to be light”

“Be Gretchen” – aka “Know Thyself” – worry less about what happiness means for others and focus on what makes your heart sing

An absence of bad things does not mean that you are happy.

*Help feed my reading habit by using the Amazon JP affiliates links in the post to buy the book! That would really make me happy!

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