Booking It with The Happiness Project

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Are ya Booking It this year?

If you’re just now joining us, let me explain. Booking It is an online reading program designed to get you reading.

This online book club features flexibility for those who want to do their own thing as well as “assigned reading” for those who prefer a little more structure. You can even do a little of both.

On the 10th of the month, we discuss the “book of the month” while we share our choice readings on the 11th.

Have a plan

Last month we made reading plans. Having a reading plan gets you one step closer to reading. Not only do you have an idea of what you want to read, but you also can get the wheels turning to have those books at the ready for when you find pockets of time to read. I’ve bought some books, dug some out of storage, requested some from the library, and put some on my wish list to acquire later in the year.

Not sure how to find good books? No problem. Wondering where to find  time to read? You can do it. Really.

There is a whole world of great books to explore. Some of them will bring you the laugh that you sorely need. Others will help you solve a problem. Still others can change your life. So let’s get reading!

The Happiness Project

Today is the first day of our Assigned Reading Check-in. We read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

{If you haven’t read it, then this is your official SPOILER ALERT.}

Can I just say that this book was life-changing? The Happiness Project was one of the most encouraging, freeing, thought-provoking books I’ve ever read. Seriously.

Gretchen Rubin’s story of the year she intentionally pursued happiness was not only entertaining and easy to read, but it prompted me to consider what really matters in my life.

What really makes me happy? How do I really want to spend my days — and my life? How can I be intentional about living life in a way that truly blesses me and my family?

The Happiness Project got me thinking about new ways to live life “on the road to joyful motherhood.”

Not to mention, reading the book validated my college degree when I actually knew what Sisyphean meant when I came across it.

I could so relate when I read Gretchen’s confession of wishing she liked something she thought she should like instead of just enjoying where her natural preferences lay. I laughed at how she wished she enjoyed “cool music,” but that to be really happy musically, she just had to be okay with the styles that she truly enjoyed.

I think some would balk at the title of the book, thinking that it’s all about satisfying oneself and forget about others. This is so not the case. The message is clear that to be really happy, we are doing things that bless, love, and encourage the people we love.

It’s about being thankful for the good that we have and enjoying it as much as we can, whether that be marriage, children, friendships, or a good cup of coffee.

Certainly, those things vary in degree, but they are good things, and we should enjoy them.

Changes are a-coming

Different sound bites from the book come back at me at random parts of the day. And since I read and watch Gretchen’s blog and vlogs, I know what she sounds like. So, I hear her real voice, too.

No, not in an Obi-Wan-Kanobi-telling-Luke-to-use-the-Force kind of way. But, like a friend encouraging me.

When I finally put the proofs of insurance in each of our vehicles and stuck the new registration tags on, I heard Gretchen say, “Tackle a nagging task.” Yes! Who would have thought that dealing with insurance and registration would make me happy?! But, it did. Because to not do it, it would continue to bug me until I did it or until a cop pulled me over.

I feel “happy” knowing that if there was an accident or some other traffic issue, I would be prepared with proper paperwork.

Many of my year’s goals were influenced by having read this book. Working on each of them will contribute to the overall happiness of my family and me.

I find myself making mental notes about things that bring me joy or bring one of my family joy. This prompts me to think of ways to incorporate that thing more into the fabric of our lives.

I could probably write a book about this book and how it is changing my thoughts and dreams. But, since I lost my notes in the cluttered office that is nagging me to organize it, I can’t. Instead, I can ask…

What did YOU think of the Happiness Project?

Let’s talk in the comments section. And if you wrote a review of the book, share the link there as well. Can’t wait to hear what you thought!

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  1. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Happiness Project”. It was motivating, challenging and encouraging. After reading the first chapter, I cleaned out the ‘junk drawer’ in my kitchen, emptied (mostly) a shelf in my coat closet and got rid of a bunch of clothes and shoes out of my closet. It was so satisfying! I love her resolution to “tackle a nagging task”. I emailed her and requested her resolutions chart and she promptly emailed it to me. I still haven’t found time to personalize it, but plan on trying it out soon. I recommended the book to my mom and she and her book club are going to read it after it comes out in paperback this March.

  2. Did not finish this book. Did not care for it at all. I couldn’t believe I was reading about a woman sorting through her clothes. Definitely not for me.

  3. I haven’t finished the book yet. I do like some aspects but like other commenters, I found myself skipping over some parts of a chapter. I actually was depressed about one part I read – about how you realize so many doors and options are closed for good. Its very true but yikes depressing! that certainly did NOT increase my happiness!

  4. I read The Happiness Project right after we made our booklists. It truly inspired my goals for the year as it did yours. I enjoyed how she broke each month into an area of focus. While I haven’t been quite as diligent about my own Happiness Plan as I might have liked to have been, I did get a lot out of reading it. I was inspired to tackle some huge tasks (and some small ones) in my life and to find more happy in every day! Thanks for the suggestion – it was a great start to this years reading!!

  5. I tried to read this book this month but never finished it and had to turn it back in at the library. The reason I never finished it is I started a notebook of goals for different parts of my life and guess what? I started accomplishing something!! I am crossing off tasks on my nagging list and actually making headway on some important tasks. Wow! If that isn’t life changing, I don’t know what it. My number one takeaway from this book is I don’t have to do everything in one day – but step by step, I’ll get it all accomplished. And maybe be happy!!

  6. I started this book at the beginning of January. I was so tired from the holidays that reading about all her cleaning projects just made me grumpy. I didn’t want to work that hard to be happy. However, I finally clicked with the author when she started her children’s lit group. I would love to be part of that group. It is amazing how I connected with the book after I felt more connected with the author. I went from dragging myself through it to enjoying it. One thing she did that I HAVE to take time to do is start files for each of my family members to put cards and papers in. That was such a great idea. Once that goes from a nagging task to a completed task, I’ll get to have a moment of happiness, too!

  7. I’ve read this book twice now, and now all these comments make me want to read it again, Jessica!

    I loved Gretchen’s writing style – and the fact that I could read a memoir but come away with so many ideas that would benefit my own happiness was such a treat. It was like reading a self-help book, but so much more entertaining!

    I actually got to interview her over on Steady Mom last year, which was really cool:


  8. I really enjoyed this book, but admit with the commenter Karen-I did find it a bit dry in spots and I admit that I totally skipped the part on imitating a spiritual leader and pondering her eternity.

    I think the thing I took away from the book that has most helped me is that it’s ok to do little changes in little steps. You don’t have to do big grand resolutions.

  9. Like the comment left by Karen earlier today, I had a bit of time sticking with a few chapters but enjoyed Rubin’s honesty. My two take aways:
    1. We often UNINTENTIONALLY do not acknowledge others feelings with a sympathetic, “oh, you don’t feel that way” type of response (denying).
    2. The obvious, if you make the change, you will see the results (be the results big in change or small). Take for example the April Fool’s joke, which had its own mini challenges for her to execute but the pay off was so huge.
    Overall it reminded me to inspire others to change (big or small) by doing and executing Ghandi’s statement, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

  10. I am a little late getting started but looking forward to Bookin It! I will get my reading list together over the weekend and post it on my blog and link up with you!
    I just started reading Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin so that will be my book for this month.
    I used to love reading but kind of put it on the back burner with having kids but this year I was determined to take time for myself and get back to it! I have already read 3 books!
    Thanks for hosting!

  11. Ok, I guess I am playing devil’s advocate here. While I truly did glean a lot from the book (I have a HUGE to-do list of projects to tackle, both large and small, that my husband and I have been working on all month and will probably be working on well into next year!) and plan to go back and revisit the ideas in it in the next few weeks, I found her writing quite dull in many spots. I identified with her in many ways and it was certainly reassuring to hear someone with similar weaknesses working on them in a very well thought out and organized approach but I don’t know, the book didn’t leave me feeling like I had just read something incredible. Again, I plan on going back and trying to get more from it as I think there are a lot of great ideas but I guess her writing just didn’t do it for me. I applaud Rubin for putting herself out there like she did though. That can be a tough thing to do.

    I am really glad so many people got so much out of it as I think any book that can touch even one person is a success! I guess I just wish I felt more inspired too.

    1. @Karen, I get ya. And I’m glad that you are honest with us about the dry parts. In thinking about it, I guess I felt that maybe midway, but since I had laughed so much earlier, I was trusting that there would be more spots. I wonder if the lull occurs where she feels the lull? Or maybe it’s just not the best book for everybody.

      I also was watching her vlogs at the same time as reading the book, so I might have been seeing it from a number of different perspectives. I dunno.

      But, I’m glad you can say you didn’t love it. I wouldn’t want it to be any different. 😉

      1. @Jessica Fisher, Thanks Jessica! I agree. It’s nice to feel free to be honest. Again, I thought there was a lot to glean, just dry. Maybe I will go take a peek at her blog so I can see what you were seeing. 🙂 Thanks for the great book list. I am thrilled to get book feedback like this as I am constantly in the middle of a good three to five books (sometimes more….)

  12. First I want to say that I am really enjoying being a part of “Booking It”. I have never been a part of a book club before but have been wanting to do something for me for a long time and boy, am I ever glad that I am doing this!

    It is ironic that the first book was the Happiness Project since, as I just mentioned, I wanted to doing something “for me”. I must admit that when I first say this a selection I thought……I don’t think this is going to me my kind of book. But, as soon as I read the first few pages I quickly changed my mind.

    I loved Gretchin’s writting style and there were times when I would actually laugh out loud at her humor. I really identified with a lot of the issues and topics that she discussed and I am eager to give my own happiness project a go. I haven’t looked at her blog yet but I am eager to do so.

    I really enjoyed this book and thankyou for putting it on the list.

    1. @Amanda B, I laughed out loud a lot, too. I identified with her on so many fronts that I could see some of the same things happening to me.

      1. I just went back and re-read my review and noticed all of the spelling mistakes and such! Lol….note to self, don’t do book review while distracted by a 3yr old! Too funny.@Jessica Fisher,

  13. I’m so happy you put this book on the list! I kept seeing the book last year and felt like should read it but had no desire to do so. And I wouldn’t have if it was not on your list. But I really enjoyed the book! It took me a long time to read because it was so thought provoking for me. My favorite point of the book was “if you eliminate doing the things that make you feel guilty, it will make you a happier person”. Not that I do alot of things that make me feel guilty but just the little things that I resist doing then feel bad about afterwards.

  14. Good book and definitely adaptable/helpful for your own life. Just read Wicked with my book club, which I thought was o.k. I also just finished MiddleSex, which was an intriguing and thoughtful book. I highly recommend it!

  15. I tried! Really, I did. I simply could not get into this book. I didn’t click with the author, and I couldn’t get past her to get to the heart of the book. Hopefully the next one will be something I can get into!

    1. @Rachel, I think that is totally fine. I’ve found that different seasons work for different books. I once tried to read a book that I thought would be good — and I just couldn’t get past the first chapter. But, a year later I read it and I loved it. There’s something better for you out there right now. 🙂

  16. I liked the book a lot. I seem to compare myself to others alot and fall short. I am focusing on “Being Carri”. I am also working on reframing. Attitude is everything!

  17. So, I am still finishing up the book. But hey, when you have 2 under 2, reading isnt always something that is easy to come by.

    What I have really learned from the book is that I am able to make myself change how I feel. I like how one of Gretchen’s commandments was to “Act the Way I Want to Feel”. Realizing that I have the power to change the way I feel was so freeing. It reminds me of Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

    So, my plan is to finish the book. I really have enjoyed it, even if it isnt something I would normally read. Besides, got to get it done in order to get on to my next read.

  18. I absolutely loved this book!
    As others have said, this is not normally a book a would choose to read, but I am so glad I did. Thanks so much for including it on this list. It has inspired me so much, now it is time for me to put that inspiration into action.
    I got so caught up in it the first time I read it, that now I am reading it for the second time and taking notes, thinking about how I can apply to my own life. It came at a perfect time, when I feel stuck in a job that has no enjoyment for me, it only seems to drag me down. I have always had many dreams about what I’d like to do, but just let them get pushed to the side, too scared to make any changes. But as Gretchen says “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.” Maybe I just need to “enjoy the fun of failure!”

    1. @Ashley, now enjoy the fun of failure is not something I’m quite ready to embrace. Ha! I guess it just depends on what it is.

      But, this sounds like something to really apply to your career. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  19. I loved this book. When I first started, I worried about whether I would have the problem I often do with non-fiction: Will I “want” to read? Well, I definitely did!
    I rarely buy books but I think this is one that I might actually buy so that I can reread it, maybe once a year. I was so inspired by many parts of the book but know there is no way I could implement everything at this one moment. Rereading though would reignite the desire, hopefully. She said that not everyone’s happiness project would be the same, and she’s right, but I was amazed at how many of her points I could also see for myself.
    I’m trying to convince my friends and family to read this book as well, hoping that they will get as much out of it as I did.

    1. @Sarah H., isn’t it funny how enthusiastic we can get about books we love?

      I gave it to my mom for Christmas, but have no idea if she’s read it yet.

      But, I think I’m realizing that there are all kinds of reactions to the book. So, don’t feel bad if they don’t love it like we do. 😉

  20. Oh.. Now I feel so bad I couldn’t receive the book in time. I’d ordered this and The Well-Fed Writer and received the latter first. So, obviously began that. Awesome book and I’ll be sharing my review but am sure The Happiness Project will be a different kind of awesome:-) I look forward to reading it for the March edition of Bookin’ It. 🙂

  21. I thought this was a great book too. As others have said, while it would be nice to travel to Italy, India and Bali, in an effort to become happier, it’s not very realistic. I’m not looking to escape my life, just be happier where I am. And this book helped me to see ways in which I could do that. I definitely saw myself looking for those gold stars! But its nice to know I’m not the only one. Even just knowing others are in the same boat makes me a bit happier (is that weird?).

    1. @Margaret K, I am a gold star person, too. But, I had never thought about it that way. It was good to see her confession about it, I could so relate. And acknowledging it seems to take its power away in a sense.

  22. As The Happiest Person I Know, I’ve never felt the need to read the Happiness Project – I’d rather spend time reading about something I have a real thirst for. Not to say it’s not great, and very helpful for some.

    To all you Mums reading this page I’d like to reiterate what you’ve all no doubt heard several times from your well-meaning aunts – enjoy your children while they’re young. I know it’s physically and mentally difficult – and so busy it’s tempting not to take time to smell the roses. But really, enjoy every second with those precious little bundles – you’ll be rewarded when they grow up (if you need a reward). Hug them, love them, be patient with them.

    Live Life Happy!

  23. I stumbled across this book club – through Simple Mom I think? And I absolutely LOVED “The Happiness Project”! Thanks so much for hosting this. I’ve actually lent it to a friend to read this weekend as my copy from the library is due back next week. I have been struggling with my own happiness and knowing what makes me happy and this book was really helpful for me. I felt like it gave me license to consider my own happiness! I have a toddler and a newborn and usually I put my needs off, never really finding time for the things I enjoy doing. Now I am thinking about how my happiness affects my family and how I need to take care of myself and my own happiness. Thank you for suggesting this book!
    My response here:

    (I think maybe I should formally link up to the book club, post the button?)

    1. @Pamela, it would be great if you used the button, but you are not obligated. It’s your call. Thanks for joining us!

  24. I’m glad you put this on the list. I wanted to read it when it came out, but never got around to it. Although I am not ready to tackle my own all-out happiness project, the book did make me think about changes I could make that would result in more happiness in my life.

    Right now I can honestly say that the chapters on Marriage and Parenthood hit home more than the others. Probably just the stage of life that I am in… So, that is where I plan to start; I can always build from there!

    All in all, I thought this was a good read since it made me really think about what makes me happy and what I can do to be happier and spread that happiness to my family.

  25. I am really enjoying this book. I’m currently in the month of November in the book, so I’m almost finished. I, too, could relate to Gretchen in the way she really wanted to like certain things, but just didn’t. For example, I have tried and tried to enjoy Mozart. But the reality is, I just don’t like Mozart. I like Bach. And my teen’s pop music! Why have I tried to fight this?
    I’m looking forward to creating my own Happiness Project, although I am a bit apprehensive because I have never in my life stuck to any resolution longer than a few weeks. However, I want to try the Resolution Chart and see if that helps. I am a listmaker, a planner, and a chartmaker by design, so it will be very fun for me. Carrying out the well-laid plans and actually doing the things I have on that chart may be a different story, but I am going to try.
    Thanks for recommending this book! I wouldn’t have read it otherwise. I’m enjoying Booking It with you!

    1. @Julie, I have yet to go track down her charts, believe it or not. I guess ’cause I already have so many charts going. Let us know how they work for you!

  26. I’m still reading as well, but so far I am really enjoying it and finding it very inspiring! I even went out and bought a copy because I couldn’t get my library copy read in the allotted time! LOL But even through I was only part way through the book at the time, I KNEW it was a book I’d read again so it was worth it to me to buy a copy for myself. Can’t wait to finish!

    1. @Anne, I love it when I find a book that’s worthy of buying. (I don’t buy many these days, so it’s proof of a gem.)

  27. Haha, those phrases randomly pop into my head too! Thanks for putting this book on the list. I don’t think I would have ever picked it up on my own…I tend to be wary of “happiness peddlers.” I decided to give it a try anyway and I’m glad I did! I haven’t finished it yet (got sidetracked with another book which I’ll tell you about tomorrow) but it has been life-changing for me. The first half of the book alone has changed the way I lay out and approach goals, tackle clutter, relate to my husband & children and more. I plan to finish it in the next week…can’t wait to see what the rest of the book holds!

  28. I love The Happiness Project! I bought it as an audiobook about a year ago and was enthralled listening to it. I have listened to it again about 3 times and have bought the book.

    I loved her premise that she wanted to make her life better without fundamentally altering her life. The changes she made are all things I could do. I think her emphasis on tracking her goals is particularly important. I am always so inspired whenever I think of what small steps can do to improve life.

    1. @Claire, the small steps was a new concept for me. Now I find myself thinking more strategically about the things that I want to accomplish.

  29. Jessica, thank you for inspiring us to get a booklist together and read!! I love reading but with 3 little ones I had put it on the back burner. Not this year!
    I enjoyed The Happiness Project a lot. It has encouraged me to clean clutter from my house and love every minute with my kids. I made a goal list for my year and am excited to see how much I get accomplished.

      1. @Jessica Fisher, It sure did!! Haha.. I must need help staying on top of things because the books/chapters drawing me in are about clutter! Lol thanks for all the good book ideas!

  30. Kelley: Thank you for being the first one!

    I, too, am still reading…on page 106 in fact. So far, I have really liked the book and have had some takeaways from it but I’d really like to press forward and complete the book.

    I think though that I am going to have to modify my reading list – I am having trouble finding time to read (I work full-time and have a 7 month old that is a cute but demanding little thing!). I have a sneaking suspicion that my husband has purchased some sort of reading device (kindle, nook, etc) for me for Valentine’s day though so we’ll see if that helps any!

    1. @Shannon, it’s totally okay not to finish. No worries. I just saw a Kindle this past weekend, and I must confess it was intriguing.

      Except that they way I make sure I read, is that I have multiple books going and one is placed in my most frequent haunts throughout the house.

    1. @Malisa, I think that was really a key point, that she wasn’t ditching her life. I think that is where “happiness” has gotten a bad rap…. spouses leaving each other because they’re not “happy,” instead of finding joy where they are.

  31. I confess, I am still reading the book. I have been reading it in fits and starts since the only time I can squeeze reading in is at night…before bed.

    I am loving it. It is hard for me to stop myself from changing everything right now in this instant. I am that kind of lady and this book has shown me the importance of setting a few small goals at a time to work towards the ultimate goal which is happiness. Good book and glad you put it on the list! I just need to make it to the end!

    1. @Kelley, yes, I’m going to be really happy when I tackle that nagging task and find the notes I took about all the ways I’m going to enjoy life more. LOL. 😉