Books · Mindfulness · Podcast

The Happiness Project: Then and Now

happiness project

When I reorganized my bookshelf, I rediscovered a lot of great books that I’d forgotten about like, the Shopaholic series, those Elizabeth Gilbert books, and, a little more substantive, all of my Norton Anthologies from back when I was an English Lit major. And of course, I came across The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. How long had it been since I’d read this? I listen to Happier, Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft’s weekly podcast, and her newest book Better than Before is on my Amazon wish list, but The Happiness Project is where it all began.

I flipped through it and saw that the pages were slightly yellowed, the words I’d highlighted at one point now faded. I felt something on the back of the book and turned it over, and lo and behold there was a price sticker with a barcode on it that said Scottsdale Community College.

I suddenly remembered being in the bookstore at Scottsdale Community College during my first year and buying The Happiness Project, along with notebooks and pens and all the textbooks I’d needed. What are the chances of stumbling across it now, during my last semester of graduate school? Almost six years exactly have passed since I first picked up this book. Spooky.

Or not.

Not surprisingly much of the wisdom between these pages was lost on me on my first read . I’m glad I kept the book all this time because I see now what an absolute goldmine of life advice there is here. The book details her personal experiences with the happiness project that she created for herself and she offers advice for how to go about creating your own. So, six years later, what’s held up? Here are a few of my favorite lines from The Happiness Project:


“’There is no love; there are only proofs of love’; whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will only see in my actions.”


“Hearing someone complain is tiresome whether you’re in a good mood or a bad one and whether or not the complaining is justified.”


“…the more I learned about happiness, the more I realized how much my happiness influenced the people around me.”


“A sense of growth is so important to happiness that it’s often preferable to be progressing to the summit rather than to be at the summit.”


“Because money permits a constant stream of luxuries and indulgences, it can take away their savor, and by permitting instant gratification, money shortcuts the happiness of anticipation. Scrimping, saving, imagining, planning, hoping – these stages enlarge the happiness we feel.”


On what it feels like to have a candle burning in your office (so true):

“…there is something nice about working in an office with a candle burning. It’s like seeing snow falling outside the window or having a dog snoozing on the carpet beside you. It’s a kind of silent presence in the room and very pleasant.”


“In many ways, the happiness of having children falls into the kind of happiness that could be called fog happiness. Fog is elusive. Fog surrounds you and transforms the atmosphere, but when you try to examine it, it vanishes. Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don’t really seem to bring much happiness at all – yet somehow they do.”


Something about that last one is so beautiful, don’t you think? There is a science to so much of what we do in our daily lives contributing to our overall happiness, and yet some things are so simple and we can’t quite pin down what about them makes us feel the way that we do.

The Happiness Project will always have a space on my bookshelf. And who knows, maybe in another six years I’ll pick it back up and find even more treasures that escaped me the second time around.


Have you read The Happiness Project or any other books about finding happiness? The Happier podcast is a great place to start  🙂

6 thoughts on “The Happiness Project: Then and Now

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