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Publisher's Summary

#1 New York Times Bestseller

“An enlightening, laugh-aloud read. . . . Filled with open, honest glimpses into [Rubin’s] real life, woven together with constant doses of humor.”—Christian Science Monitor

Gretchen Rubin’s year-long experiment to discover how to create true happiness. Drawing on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world examples, Rubin delivers an engaging, eminently relatable chronicle of transformation.

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

In this lively and compelling account, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.

As an added bonus, this recording includes a sampling of Gretchen’s podcast, Happier With Gretchen Rubin. In this episode, "Choose the Bigger Life," Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, discuss happiness, good habits, and whether Gretchen is going to get a dog.

©2009 Gretchen Rubin (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"Packed with fascinating facts about the science of happiness and rich examples of how she improves her life through changes small and big. The Happiness Project made me happier by just reading it." (Bookpage.com)

Featured Article: How to Be Happier, According to These Smile-Inducing Audiobooks


"Happiness" seems like this abstract concept we keep reaching for but will never be able to actually grasp, right? Wrong—at least according to the following authors. Here is a list of the best audiobooks to help you find your pathway to happiness. Some are step-by-step guides; others are personal accounts of finding the way to a genuinely happy life. Whichever style you prefer, there's an audiobook about happiness that will fit your journey.

What listeners say about The Happiness Project

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I had great hopes for this audio book. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The author seems like a very nice person and writes in a very casual conversational style. The problem is this book reads more like a diary or blog of a person's journey to find happiness. Cool right? That's what the book is supposed to be about. The problem is that my listening of this book felt like I was on the author's journey towards happiness and she did not take me along for the ride.

I think in spending several hours listening to this audio book I didn't learn anything on how to personally become more happy even though I learned all about the author's life and her struggles toward happiness, criticism and relationships especially with her sister and husband. We learn all about the author being an attorney and a writer and her internal struggles.

I wanted this book to be good, but unfortunately I left disappointed. If you're looking for a book in this particular area I would highly recommend: Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom...Why the Meaningful Life is Closer Than You Think Audiobook which I would put in my list of the top 20 books best I ever read.

This book is set up in a way that the author is working on one principle of happiness each month and basically shares with you her experience. That's the problem the book is written in a nonjudgmental style toward what you should pursue while almost seeming self-righteous about how the author is pursuing happiness her own life. Unfortunately unlike most audio books which I feel a close connection with the author this one left me feeling uncomfortable.

163 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The gift that keeps on giving...

This book was an awesome lucky find. I shy away from anything that sounds "self-helpish" but this book gives the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, I listened to it twice and then went out and purchased the book and will purchase more for family. This book is a great source of reality. We are responsible, in most part, for our own happiness. I guess we all just need an example to show us how to start. I love the web pages and the stories from others. Now if I could only find the Orange Blossom candle, I'd be set. This book has helped me recognize my truths and has made me actively count my blessings. The best line, "the days are long but the years are short."

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The Happiness Project

I really enjoyed this book. I listened to it - and then wanted the hardcover edition as well. I'm inspired to start my own happiness project. This book opened my eyes to ways that I can increase not only my happiness but also that of people around me. It made me happy!

44 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Shallow and Disappointing

Any additional comments?

I had high hopes for this book, but it just didn't live up to the hype. I might have had more appreciation for it if I had read the actual book rather than listening to the author's narration of it. I really disliked the narration. What disappointed me most was just how superficial it all seemed to me. I expected something deep and enlightening, but this wasn't it.

43 people found this helpful

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Great Book and Story

What made the experience of listening to The Happiness Project the most enjoyable?

I'm a general happy person living with someone who is commonly negative or depressed. I originally bought it to see if there was something I could learn to help her. However... I loved the book and I am thinking of starting my own happiness project because of it.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

There is one small frustration with the reading of the book... There are points in the book where what is being read are comments from blog readers or from some other source. From an audible book stand point, it is really hard to know when the comments / opinions being read are the authors or someone else. It is hard to know when the reader has switched back to reading book author material. minor issue, but frustrating.

42 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I just can't...terrible narration & bad advice.

Would you try another book from Gretchen Rubin and/or Gretchen Rubin?

Probably not. She is terribly boring and too monotone to be narrating. I don't actually think she was successful in her happiness project.

What could Gretchen Rubin have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

She shouldn't narrate. Also, to be frank, she sounds like an UNHAPPY person, still, even though she supposedly went through this year of attempting happiness. Honestly, I feel like she missed the whole point. The book may have been more enjoyable read by a more lively person but, I just think it's a bad self-help book too because it's totally subjective to her life and doesn't make me feel motivated to take any of the same steps she took.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

She was a terrible story teller, boring, monotone, and clearly just an achievement focused person who's view of happiness is, in my opinion, very skewed. It was also very difficult to tell the difference between when she was talking from first person or as someone else.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe...only because perhaps it would be better portrayed by other actors.

Any additional comments?

As a therapist, I feel the need to advise people NOT to follow this woman's advice or even look to this book as a guide to happiness. It seems that, what may come off as funny if read directly from the book, is actually Gretchen's attempt to make light of times when she is actually quite unhappy....WHICH IS HEALTHY AND NORMAL TO BE. She puts a lot of blame on her husband for petty things and plays it off as "loving his quirks" when clearly, you can tell throughout that she is still pissed at him and seeking his approval through the project. Maybe I haven't gotten to it yet, but she rarely talks about how happiness simply comes from being in whatever state you're in, instead of trying to plan happiness. She rarely talks positively about her family, she admits she's motivated by "gold stars" and its obvious throughout that she is just seeking another big golden star by writing and selling this. If you want to listen to a woman's struggle with bringing her boring life somewhat more color, then you might like this. Besides some statistics, which I think are irrelevant to happiness anyway, this is not a useful book.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

FULL of herself!

Yup, the writer of this book is over-the-top full of Gretchen! Even with that rather annoying aspect, I have listened to this fully about 3 times. I actually bought the book. I really had to get over Gretchen in order to benefit from what are rather good messages and strategies for becoming more awake and aware, of living in a state that supports happiness. I'm grateful to Gretchen even though she subjected me to things like writing a novel while she worked out a exercise program while she was extra nice to her husband while she planned a birthday party par excellence for her mother-in-law while she created family archives, and on and on, almost all simultaneously. She breaks it up into months, but the activity is so frenetic and so intense and constant that it can be exhausting. The best part is perhaps Gretchen's honesty although even that is excessive.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • TG
  • 01-13-10

What a horrible waste of time

I've never read anything so dull. The author runs on and on about stupid things like her habits of shopping for toilet paper, vaguely interesting stories about her kids, and useless meanderings of her day. It reads like a child's diary, and her narrative sounds like she's reading a Dr. Seuss book -- with every annunciation ending like the statement was a question... (voice inflected up here)?

Move on to the next read.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

nahhh

This is a valiant if not vain attempt at trying to look into happiness. There is a bit of science mixed in with information but mostly self serving stories about someone trying to get attention for being happy. Unfortunately I didn't find this uplifting and although pedantic I didn't learn much. Regretful purchase.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic project!

What did you love best about The Happiness Project?

Perhaps what I loved the most was the invitation to participate, in my very own way, into this fun journey of joy within the beautiful simplicity of my day to day life. I appreciated the very honest approach, and sharing, of the author's life experiences throughout her year of happiness.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gretchen, of course, but I also loved listening about her relationships with her in-laws and her husband/daughters.

Which scene was your favorite?

I do have a few months of her project that I found particularly inspiring and probably the ones I was able to connect the most with such as August, the month dedicated to contemplating the heavens; September, the month she dedicated to write a novel and spending more time with books as well as November when the concept of laughing out loud while lightening one's attitude came about.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were plenty of moments, but the one that comes to mind right now, is when she realized that her bus ride to school in the mornings with her daughter was that magical moment of her every day that was never going to be there again. That moment when she realized this and it became such a happiness producer for her, reminded me of a similar situation I have gone through this year. Since last September, I have been driving my daughter to her first year of high school for her zero period class (which means that I have to be up at 5:00 a.m. every morning in order to make it on time.) At the beginning it was such a struggle for me until I realized, like Gretchen, that this is it: the magic is happening right now. And I have loved every minute of every early morning since then!

Any additional comments?

So looking forward to her new upcoming book, "Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life."

16 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs M.
  • 11-11-17

Returning this book!

If you're new to the self help this may indeed be helpful....having read many books from many angles this was not the book for me, nothing new so to speak, a little bit slow, quite a bit too much about the author!....Not many books I've not finished but this is one i don't want to spend anymore time on!

10 people found this helpful

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  • jc
  • 12-14-18

Fell short of expectations

I’d heard good things about this book from a few people but it just didn’t do it for me. The delivery and story were fine but I can’t really say I got much from it. It was unnecessarily long and take homes were limited.
Better to spend listening time on something else.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kerry
  • 04-06-14

Absolutely loved it.

What made the experience of listening to The Happiness Project the most enjoyable?

Well read, and an inspiring journey. I loved the way it was broken down into each month and would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about making some changes to be happier without destroying what they already have :)

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • the typist
  • 11-03-17

Happiness project or Attention Deficit Disorder?

While undoubtedly containing useful information, I still couldn’t help feeling as if the reader was being spoken to like a complete dummy. So many of the authors suggestions were blindingly obvious or utterly tenuous. More worrying however was the fact that the author seemed to chaotically flit from one infatuation to another. So much so, I honestly wondered whether she had any time left in her schedule for her husband and two young children. It’s certainly an interesting read but also a massively unsatisfying one.

8 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • eithne
  • 03-09-20

Do your research

This was not the book for me. While struggling with life, the title of this book sounded perfect unfortunately if you are not an American, or middle class, or not working then you will have difficulty identifying with it. Not everyone has the time to walk every day or has the money to take up rowing lesson.
Was very glad when I got to the end. Ironically this is a book that I could have easily stopped listening to

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • anna
  • 02-21-18

Enjoyable read

An easy and enjoyable read. Some interesting ideas and well narrated. I found the fact that every problem was overcome and that each month ended in success a little unrealistic but I think that's me being British. Overall I would recommend it.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Chelsea M. Morgan
  • 06-26-19

Made me rethink some things in my life!

Such a good read! Gretchen has some awesome ideas and just from making some subtle changes to her life she improves her overall happiness. Well worth the listen and may give you some ideas to make your life happier!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kirsten
  • 09-29-10

Unhappy listening

If you are curious about this title, buy the book instead. I have tried listening several times but just can't get past the author's voice. Unfortunately it has put me off enough that I can't absorb the content. No longer part of my happiness project: listening to this audio book.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-25-19

guaranteed to teach you how to stay happy

loved her rules of adulthood, the concept of commandments and resolutions. very broad scope and very forgiving because her journey is similar to all of ours. for me unforgettable

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Duncan
  • 12-05-17

Compelling enough to give it a try

A great book, it really did get me thinking about my own happiness well worth the read / listen.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 01-06-15

Listening to this became a chore...

I was interested in learning how one woman applied happiness principles in her everyday life, but it was a very self-involved story and this, combined with the OTT narration, made it difficult to listen too. It may have been better to read in print form. I feel like her Happiness Project was too rigid and planned, which made it seem like a chore, rather than letting her happiness journey evolve naturally. It was also very centred around her role as a mother and her job as a writer, and if you don't share these roles then these parts of the book will be less relevant. Honestly, I did get sick of hearing her voice narrate these self-involved stories that, for the sake of my own happiness, I had to stop listening...

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Monica Bradley
  • 01-18-18

Life changing listen

Simple practical sometimes funny advice. Inspired to improve my automatic Obliger habits - thank you Gretchen

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mertle
  • 12-12-17

relatable

I found Gretchen's honesty very refreshing and this made her relatable to me regardless of us seeming to have very little in common. I have been inspired to create my own happiness project for the upcoming year.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Maria Tuckey
  • 12-17-20

We could all contribute to happiness

Encouraging, positive, honest and a challenge worth giving a try. Take the time and review.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Emma
  • 08-02-16

Fantastic starter

This book is a great way to begin your own way to seeking and enhancing the happiness in your own life. Although I personally am not the 'same' as Gretchen she has provided some wonderful insight on how to achieve the things that as she says 'don't feel good doing it but feel great once it's done'. If you take away only a few things from the book you will notice the difference in your life, it's inevitable!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-16-21

Happiness on the road

My husband and I are currently travelling Australia after taking 7 months off work. We’ve loved listening to the Happiness Project and can’t wait to create our own together! Thanks Gretchen for all your hard work researching and keeping yourself accountable and mostly paving the way by showing others how to be happier!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-09-21

THANKS!

I absolutely loved listening to this book. It made me realised the little changes that I need to make in my life to be happier. I already sent an invitation to all my friends to make to time to listen to it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-21-19

Loved it

Was so taken by this book. Have been inspired to make changes in my life based on it. Found Gretchen’s approach to storytelling refreshing. Will return to this book many times I am sure

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Michele Reading
  • 08-06-19

Inspired me to start my own Happiness Project

Good practical tips and easy to follow. At first thought wow so many resolutions, but made sense as I progressed into the book. Particular like the 12 commandments and think I will get more out of that than anything.

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  • Stephanie
  • 03-17-19

life changing book.

a must read or listen for everyone this book will change your perspective on what you can do for yourself, recommended by many great ppl and recommended you reread or listen to it once a year.