Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday LifeHappier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gretchen Rubin has described her books as self-helpful, not self-help, and I think that's a pretty accurate description of them. I found this book to feel a little more rushed and flippant than The Happiness Project, but I still enjoyed it.

Rubin clearly does a lot of research on Happiness, and what she presents is understandably biased towards what she favors (by favors, I mean ideas that resonate with her, not stuff she likes).

Rubin publishes a critical comment (inexplicably under the chapter labeled: February: Body), that I nearly completely agree with, even though I don't think it's that bad:

"I was given Gretchen Rubin's book "The Happiness Project." I am afraid I am going to be harsh. It seems to me that she just wants to read or write ALL day, and she keeps inventing projects that give her a valid reason to do so while calling it work. These projects allow her to draw attention to herself and invite praise, and are done at the expense of her immediate family, with whom she readily admits she is often angry or resentful because they interrupt her "work." She also thinks a conversation is boring when it is not about her. Form me, most of the book was stating the obvious, and her whole blog is immature and irritating, but then I am 56 years old!"

I think overall, Rubin seems like a very loving, understanding, good mother, even though, for the life of me, I can't figure out why she just won't go out and buy her daughter a guitar stand. Rubin has worked very hard to know who she is. As I've said before, I don't think I'd want to be friends with her--I think she'd drive me crazy, and I don't think she'd be particularly interested in me. What I am curious about is her husband...given what she says about herself, he sounds like a saint. I'm curious as to what Jamie gets out of this relationship.

What I think Rubin does very well is presenting the goal of becoming happier as something achievable to the mortal, working person. She discusses the importance of unhappy things, both for providing balance, and because, as she says, happiness doesn't always make me feel happy. For instance, you're always happier once you've completed an arduous task, but usually not so much while you're doing it.

This book is ultimately a good compliment to The Happiness Project, but if you're only going to read one of them, read The Happiness Project.

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