I'm not a fan of self-help, inspirational and all those related non-fiction line. I would love to listen and learn from the experienced authors of the these books. But for some reason, I always feel bored as soon as the preachy atmosphere is beginning to settle.

The Happiness Project is one those books that doesn't fit in my typical preference list. I have been loyal to my little shelf of hopeless romantic reads. How come it landed on me? When I was searching for new reads, I often encounter The Happiness Project in the list of best sellers. It was consistent in US sites and even to our local bookstores. As always, my curiousity prevailed. I took home the cheaper paperback.

I admit that my thoughts about The Happiness Project can become tainted by my biased preference. Added to this, my reliable friend told me that she didn't finish the book. She felt bored. Despite the negative views, I decided to pursue the book.

In a nutshell, the book related Gretchen Rubin's journey of discovering and finding happiness in a year. The entire book chornicled her entire journey, realizations, resolutions and struggle on how to be happier. Gretchen is happily married and blessed with two wonderful kids. She have the perfect life not until some realizations settled in her. She wanted to be happier. In pursuit of understanding and finding ways to become happier, the book was conceived.

I will not deny that I was tempted not to finish the book. I felt bored and I was beginning to lose connection with the author. I agree with Gretchen's sentiments and realizations. In fact, every point she raised about finding happiness is well researched and  founded by the works of philosophers, saints and even some religious doctrines. Unfortunately, I felt disconnected with the book because at some point, everything was all about Gretchen. The element where the author can involve and make the reader a part of the story faded. It was like joining a conversation dominated by one person.

I also have issues with the fact that I'm single and Gretchen is married. She offered great lessons on how to address wife-husband and mother-daughter issues. Unfortunately, I can't relate. But this is of course not Gretchen's fault. ;)

On the positive side, I agree and appreciate some of her thoughts on making your path to happiness. Here are some I learned from Gretchen,

1. Declutter to happiness

I'm guilty of buying a lot of things, especially if they are offered to me like candy during a mall wide sale. Only to later find out that I don't need these items. Gretchen related how living with less made her happier.

2. Money can buy happiness

It sounds too materialistic but at some point, this is true. Gretchen emphasized on buying things that we really need or those that can improve our daily routine. A new set of bed sheets that can provide longer and comfortable sleep, that set of real pearl earings that fits every woman regardless of ocassion, or that much coveted vacuum that can reduce the cleaning chores. Instead of investing on wants and all those luxuries we rarely use, money should be invested on things that can make our lives easier, better and eventually, happier everyday.

3. Invest to a modest splurge

I will never forget Gretchen's firm decision to purchase 6 to 8 sets of crisp white shirts from Bloomingdale. Her point is that despite the numerous clothes in her closet, she still prefers and looks forward to her classic white shirt. We keep on purchasing clothes that we know, we can't even wear everyday. Gretchen's point is that when you splurge, venture to those that you look forward to use everyday.

4. There's nothing wrong in seeking your happiness, while others are suffering from misery

The main point here is simple. You cannot make other people happy, if you are unhappy in the first place.  How can you share something you don't even have? So we must not feel guilty of our attempts to find happiness.

5. Start a blog!

Gretechen's path to happiness was intensified when she finally decided to blog. Her horizons widended, she met different people, and learned from other people's experiences.

6. It's the little things that matter

One thing I appreciate about The Happiness Project is the constant reminder that happiness doesn't require a full swing change. Managing expectations, rekindling friendships, making means to create quality time with the family, and all those random acts of kindness will lead the path to happiness.

Overall, I consider the book as a good read. I'm giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It failed me to some extent and didn't push me enough to become happier. However, the little reminders and insights drawn by Gretchen's experiences were good enough to make me see happiness in another way.

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