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The Happiness Project

“This book made me happy in the first five pages.” —AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible Award-winning author Gretchen Rubin is back with a bang, with The Happiness Project. The author of the bestselling 40 Ways to Look at Winston Churchill has produced a work that is “a cross between the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.” (Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want) In the vein of Julie and Julia, The Happiness Project describes one person’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.
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Looking back, I feel the things I “should” have done were not the things that brought me towards my goal anyway and were taking me away from it (and wasting a ton of
How could I discipline myself to feel grateful for my ordinary day?
According to current research, in the determination of a person’s level of happiness, genetics accounts for about 50 percent; life circumstances, such as age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, income, health, occupation, and religious affiliation, account for about 10 to 20 percent; and the remainder is a product of how a person thinks and acts.
But I hope that the most compelling inspiration for your happiness project is the book you hold in your hands.
the Happiness Project Toolbox
One April day, on a morning just like every other morning, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a city bus, I saw that the years were slipping by. “What do I want from life, anyway?” I asked myself. “Well…I want to be happy.” But I had never thought about what made me happy or how I might be happier.
My research had revealed that challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction.
TWELVE COMMANDMENTS
Be Gretchen.
Let it go.
Act the way I want to feel.
Do it now.
Be polite and be fair.
Enjoy the process.
Spend out.
Identify the problem.
Lighten up.
Do what ought to be done.
No calculation.
There is only love.
getting one extra hour of sleep each night would do more for a person’s daily happiness than getting a $60,000 raise. Nevertheless, the average adult sleeps only 6.9 hours during the week, and 7.9 on the weekend—20 percent less than in 1900. Although people adjust to feeling sleepy, sleep deprivation impairs memory, weakens the immune system, slows metabolism, and might, some studies suggest, foster weight gain.
Be Gretchen.
Let it go.
Act the way I want to feel.
Do it now.
Be polite and be fair.
Enjoy the process.
Spend out.
Identify the problem.
Lighten up.
Do what ought to be done.
No calculation.
There is only love.
According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
You don’t have to be good at everything.
One day, I’d stop twisting my hair, and wearing running shoes all the time, and eating exactly the same food every day.
How could I discipline myself to feel grateful for my ordinary day?
I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change. In that single moment, with that realization, I decided to dedicate a year to trying to be happier.

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Don’t give a book.
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