Resolving to Be Happier: The Happiness Project

The Happiness ProjectI’ve never been a huge fan of resolutions, thinking that creating them all too often just sets people up with unreasonable expectations and too much pressure, but after reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, I’ve not only changed my mind, but I created 36 resolutions of my own to follow in 2010.

As you know, Someday Syndrome has three different varieties: Someday My Ship Will Come In, I’ll Get Around To It Someday, and I Might Need It Someday. I’ve found books that I would recommend for the first and the last (The Comfort Trap and Unclutter Your Life), and now that I have Gretchen’s book in my hands it’s become the book to recommend for people who suffer from I’ll Get Around To It Someday.

The book is ideal for those who have a good idea of what they want out of life but don’t really do anything to achieve it. I’m the sort who learns from and gets inspired by people’s personal stories. Gretchen’s twelve month experiment in being happier while not making major changes in her life is exactly what I needed at this moment.

I don’t suffer from Someday Syndrome, having cured it with the help of The Comfort Trap, but I do need reminders periodically to stay on track and to stay mindful of the present. The Happiness Project has inspired me to do just that. And The Happiness Project Toolbox that’s the companion piece to the book and blog provides the additional push to follow through.

Early in the book, Gretchen says that she’s not the sort to look at whys or wherefores. She’s not interested in exploring her past to figure out why she acts a certain way. She embraces who she is and goes from there.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life figuring out why I act certain ways and even created the I’ll Get Around To It Someday ebook to help others figure that out, but at some point it’s time to stop looking in the past and to start doing now in the present.

Gretchen has a passion for research and yet doesn’t bog down her story with lists of facts. I love the book because she’s done the research that doesn’t interest me (yes, I know myself well and research is very NOT Alex). Reading her book gives me all the information I need to create my own Happiness Project without having to do any of the boring background work.

Plus her take on resolutions convinced me to try them out for 2010. Instead of goals to reach, I’ve set up my 36 resolutions in 12 areas of my life as mindfulness reminders – things to pull me out of the future or the past, turn off the autopilot and fix me squarely in the conscious present.

Basically, if you’re the sort who’s inspired by personal stories and love a good read, then go now (yes NOW) and order yourself a copy of The Happiness Project. I don’t recommend things very often, so if I’m telling you to go order it (you have clicked a link, haven’t you?) then you know it’s a good product that’ll rid yourself of your Somedays.

P.S. If you want to see what other books I recommend as Someday-Busting tools, check out my December post over on The Bridgemaker.

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19 thoughts on “Resolving to Be Happier: The Happiness Project

  1. Alessio says:


    Great to see your RSS feeds popping up in my Google Reader again after a long absence! Welcome Back!

  2. Great to see your review of The Happiness Project! I’m reading it right now and can’t wait to write about it on my site. 🙂
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..guest post: 28 steps to a positive & successful life =-.

  3. Hi Alex,

    Glad to see this referral for Gretchen. I’ve been following her blog since I came to blogland. I’m really happy for her to see her book out there.

  4. I’ve not read the book yet, but maybe I will some day… (just kidding)

    Yes I think that it’s nice to have reminders (like this book in your case) that keep us on track and reinforce our values. I’m actually curious to read this book as I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times recently by cool people (you and Dani in a previous comment for example).

    Take care,

    .-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Interview with Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle =-.

  5. Happy New Year Alex.

    Just stopping by to wish you all the best for 2010. Hope you’re having a good one thus far. See you again soon.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Don’t Shoot Me =-.

  6. Phil Bolton says:

    Alex –

    I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin for a while on her blog and think she is a source of real inspiration. She takes simple ideas and integrates them into every day to become habitual. The insight that its not necessary to knock everything down and start again to make change is often overlooked, so thanks for sharing this with your readers. I really enjoy your blog and will continue to follow you in 2010. Thank you.

    .-= Phil Bolton´s last blog ..Find your Focus – The Power of Now =-.

  7. yun li says:

    Just love it when you put happiness as a project. Why not? Excellent way to get people move into happiness by treating it as project with clear goal of being happy…
    .-= yun li´s last blog ..Dr Oz, Cycling and Rehab =-.

  8. Karen Swim says:

    Hi and Happy New Year Alex! I put resolutions in the same category as diets – short term thinking with no lasting results. But I am a huge fan of SMART goals and continuous improvement. This book sounds fantastic, thanks so much for offering the great review!

  9. Good review of the book Alex. This great book provides the perfect motivation to start 2010 on the right foot and heading in the right direction.

    Have a blessed year!

  10. Ellen Besso says:

    What a great idea – a Happiness Project. One could use this book as a jumping-off place for creating all kinds of ways to be happy!

    I noticed singing & laughing were part of it. Martha Beck talks about this kind of thing, taking a certain amount of time to do a joyful thing in Joy Diets. (I trained with her). & I’ve read repeatedly that if we just ‘make’ our mouths smile, we can’t go on feeling down for long! – I just tried it again & it still works!

    Ellen Besso

  11. Cheryl Paris says:

    Hello Alex,

    Thanks for putting the review of the book. I am sure going to read the book ‘The Happiness Project’. I have learned from failures and set backs in my life. As when you don’t get what you wanted so you get experience.

    We think about happiness most of the times and reading this would be something very interesting.

    Bye for now,
    Cheryl Paris
    .-= Cheryl Paris´s last blog ..How We Grew With An Acorn- N is for… =-.

  12. Allen Loomis says:

    I love your blog, its great! I am a self improvement blogger as well and I was wondering if you would be interested in exchanging links on our blog rolls! Comment back on my blog and let me know 🙂

    Success Demands Action

  13. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the article and book suggestion – I can definitely think of some of my coaching clients that would do well reading The Happiness Project as part of their homework. Sounds like Gretchen’s approach is certainly consistent with coaching principles in that there is a strong future focus and very limited dabbling in the past.

    Looks like you’ve stopped working on the blog since Jan… or are you just procrastinating? 😉
    .-= South Africa life coach´s last blog ..LifeCoachpro update =-.

  14. Markus says:

    Hey, this seems like a book worth reading…

    I’ve been considering the problem of looking into the past lately. There are clearly two ways: healthy learning from the past VS worrying about your mistakes and even becoming bitter. I’ve not yet been able to explain the difference, it’s just a FEELING I get, when I’m on the wrong track… Once I figure it out more I’m going to write about it!

    My idea so far is that healthy learning happens unconsciously: you don’t need to think about the past event to learn from it. Maybe to handle it emotionally, if the nature of the experience requires that. Other than that it will automatically leave a trace in your brain. But I’m going to look deeper 🙂
    .-= Markus´s last blog ..Be grateful… but don’t settle there =-.

  15. I’d heard of the book before but after your review, can’t wait to go pick it up! I’m doing a series with some coaching clients on getting a move on. They’ll love this too, I’m gonna bet!

    Thanks for the rec!
    .-= Laurie @mylivingpower´s last blog ..Your Christmas Break Survival Guide =-.

  16. Thanks for pointing me to this book. I think is might be an excellent addition to my library. One can never have too many tools in the ole tool box.
    .-= Charles D. Bender´s last blog ..Body Language Speaks Louder Than Words =-.

  17. I am happy to find this post. The book seems to be a very good tool to have. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  18. Marty says:

    I think I prefer to focus on the “being content” aspect of life. Happiness is something that comes in waves at any time of life. I think happiness is that temporary experience. Getting a balance of overall contentment so that happiness is likely to occur more frequently is what I’m aiming for and working on.
    Good article.

  19. Renz says:

    Good article you’ve got there. Thanks for sharing! Though this is a year late, I would want to share that personally I resolved to be happier by keeping things that make me happy closer. Being happy is a choice and so be it. Recently I acquired few inspirational art and hanged in on my walls and it did great on my “state of mind”.

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