December’s Recommendation: The Happiness Project

SmileIn the book The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin documents her year-long project researching and experimenting with how to be happy. It’s a popular book that I first picked up at an airport bookshop in 2011, started to read, and then set down. And now, four years later, I’m enthusiastically recommending it.

The book is filled with wonderful ideas to think about and try. Sing in the morning, for example, and acknowledge the reality of people’s feelings. Most of them are simple, and I felt inspired to try almost all of them, and that’s why I had to set the book down the first time. There were too many good ideas. It was overwhelming.

happinessProjectThen my friend Kathy had the terrific idea to read the book together, a little at a time, over the course of a year. The book is organized by month, with a chapter for each month of the year, so it lends itself well to this approach. And a chapter was just the right-sized helping for a month.

In each chapter, the author explores a different area of life, and how it could be happier. April is about parenthood, for example, and May is about leisure time. Kathy and I started with the April chapter, because that’s when she had her idea. We’ll circle back and finish the book next March. And then we may start it again.

I love having a chance to reflect on the ideas after reading about them. I love having an excuse to have a nice long chat with my good friend once a month. And I really love to hear Kathy’s thoughts on the book, because despite our long history together, she sees very different things in the book than I do, and I get a lot more from it by reading it with her.

So, if you want a good, inspiring, uplifting book to read, filled with practical ideas for making small improvements in your happiness and the happiness of those around you, I recommend The Happiness Project. And if you want to enjoy it even more, I recommend reading it with a friend.

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