January Book of the Month Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Hi friends! Happy February!! I hope your Thursday is off to a fantastic start for you! We’re so close to Fri-YAY, I can taste it! YAY! Today, we have more landscaping to do in our backyard with a few other indoor projects left, so we’ve got a full day ahead of us! Before I head out to get all of that going with Nick, I wanted to get my January Book of the Month Review out for you this morning! It’s a good one, so grab a warm cup of joe or hot tea and get settled in! I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you on The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

One of my 2018 Intentions was to read at least one book per month. I have this crazy habit of starting a book and getting nearly over halfway through and then never getting around to finishing it. Am I the only one that does that more often than not? Hopefully not! I have so many books pinned or saved on my Audible wishlist that I always have waiting for me to crack open, but always end up putting off until later. OR, I get started strong and power my way through several chapters to eventually completely fall of the wagon and never get to that last half of the book. I wanted that to change in 2018 because I have so many good books that I know I want to get through and read cover to cover.

I started January 1st with a book by Gabrielle Bernstein, but couldn’t get myself to really get through the first few chapters for some reason. That’s when The Happiness Project jumped out at me and grabbed my attention. I had heard of it everywhere and have even listened to Gretchen’s podcast many times before, but just hadn’t cracked open this specific book just yet. So, I loaded it up on my Audible app and got to listening to chapter 1. I fell in love almost instantly with this book and the author behind it. I love listenting to audiobooks while I’m working away on the house, cleaning and doing laundry, or working on the computer. This book had me hooked though and really kept me interested throughout every chapter.

Basically, Gretchen wrote The Happiness Project as a means to celebrate her life in a new and more intentional fashion. She wasn’t so-called “unhappy” by any means when she started her own Happiness Project, which I thought was really interesting. That’s really what you would assume would be the driving force behind starting something of the sort. She just felt like she was needing to make some intentional changes with her daily actions and inner dialogue to live her happiest life possible, starting immediately and for the entire next 12 months. She also didn’t do this just for herself, but for those around her– which I really loved! We often don’t realize the energy that we bring to others, whether we’re in a good state or bad, or even somewhere in between. Have you ever noticed how quickly our energy can cause someone else to either light up with joy or bring them down within minutes when we’re feeling extra grumpy? I know I’ve seen that before in myself and in others too! That’s exactly why I loved the fact that Gretchen wanted to take on her project to not only help increase her own happiness, but to help to be a light for those around her.

She started off each month of the year by setting intentions for how she planned to reach new heights in specific areas of her life by being actionable and intentional with the way she approaches them. She takes you through her ideal plan of how she intends to spend the month tackling these tasks, all while sharing how she succeeded with them and also miserably failed too. Some of the intentions are really basic and some made her stretch herself out of her comfort zone. Then, some of them had me thinking, well we should all probably do that ALL the time, but then I’d catch myself questioning, well…when was the last time I actually DID that? When my answer came back as “…it’s actually been a while…”, I’d make a mental note to self to also add that to my own intentions list while I read through each chapter.

She’s raw and real and completely relatable through each and every month and the challenges that they each bring. Through each intention she sets for herself, she’s seeking out what it is the brings true contentment for human beings and what the driving force behind it is at the same time. She kept her “Commandments for Happiness” in mind throughout the entire 12 month journey which seemed to be a great reminder when her happiness meter was being tested. She’d catch herself snapping at her husband for not giving her the “gold stars” she thought she deserved and then remembered her #6 rule of “No calculations” and was quick to retract her snappiness. I’m pretty sure we could all use those reminders more often than we think. These commandments were a constant reminder throughout the entire project and came up as frequent reminders to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation at hand.

She takes you through the highs and the lows of each month with the nitty gritty of how it all played out, all the way down to month 12. She shows you that even if we strive for perfection, it’s 100% impossible and honestly shouldn’t be what we’re aiming for anyways. It’s about enjoying the journey and the process throughout our days, not the end result. These are all things I love to keep in mind myself!

I love this quote that “Outer order contributes to inner calm.” Isn’t that the honest truth? I really believe it is. When my environment around me is chaotic, I feel chaotic. When my environment is peaceful and calm, I’m most likely to feel that way too. Her de-clutter intention was definitely speaking to me.

I honestly appreciated this book for so many reasons, but I think the main one being that, I think it’s so important to really take a deeper look at our lives and the way we’re living out our days. I think it’s so easy to escape our realities with our technology habits and getting sucked into reality tv that we forget to actually LIVE our own lives. Our attention spans have become so short that we quickly move from one thing to another without even being truly aware of the moment we’re IN before we’re off moving to the next. We even get caught up in the future so far past the current moment, that we don’t remember how we got to today. You know those times when you’re driving and you can’t remember if that last stop light was even green that you passed right through? Yep, guilty! I’ve totally been there and done that more times than I’d like to admit.

I love it that Gretchen highlighted that we can’t get through life alone and just suffer our way through things. One of her monthly intentions was to get more involved with others. I think it’s huge when we see that we need others to lean on in life as a support system and sounding board in so many different things. She also talks about the fact that we’re bound to face difficult times, but we don’t have to “suffer” through those things without finding joy in it, someway or another.

Overall, I’d give this book 5/5 stars. I know that some people wouldn’t love or appreciate this book in the way that I did. But, Id highly suggest giving it your own read because I think it resonates with different people on different levels. (Of course, if you’re interested in these sorts of books and topics.) I love digging into the ways behind people’s minds and what makes them tick. That’s exactly what this book did for me and it truly had me turning the pages faster than I thought I would. It was longer than others, but totally worth the read. I will definitely have to make this a yearly read to keep these life reminders a priority. Thanks to Gretchen Rubin for the inspiration for my own little version of the Happiness Project that’s in the works now.

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Now that February is here, it’s time to bring on my next read! For book #2 of 2018, I’ve chosen to read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. You guys know I’m such a huge “Eat, Pray, Love” fan, so this one was almost a given. I can’t wait to dive in and see what I can learn from this one. I’ve heard it’s a very inspirational read and a good page turner, so fingers crossed it’ll be another keeper.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day! Thanks for reading along today and hanging out with me for my reivew! Feel free to join me this month in reading Big Magic! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too!!

Questions for YOU today: (Comment below with your thoughts!)

Have you ever read a book by Gretchen Rubin?

Have you ever read Big Magic before?

Are you a big magazine reader or more book reader yourself?

I honestly like both. I used to have all kinds of subscriptions to magazines, but haven’t had one in a long time! I need to re-up my subscription to Runner’s World though! I always loved those mail days!