Synopses & Reviews
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 of that year, Rubin carves out her place alongside the authors of bestselling memoirs such as Julie and Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, and Eat, Pray, Love. With humor and insight, she 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.
Rubin didn't have the option to uproot herself, nor did she really want to; instead she focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her — and what didn't.
Her conclusions are sometimes surprising — she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely; that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference — and they range from the practical to the profound.
Written with charm and wit, The Happiness Project is illuminating yet entertaining, thought-provoking yet compulsively readable. Gretchen Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire you to start your own happiness project.
"Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could-and, arguably, should-be happier. Thus, her methodical (and bizarre) happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and 'acting more energetic'). By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good, not perfect (in accordance with one of her 'Secrets of Adulthood': 'Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good'), but Rubin's funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research (including all those other recent books on happiness) to qualify as self-help. Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. Rubin's project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
"A cross between the Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love." Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness
“Practical and never preachy . . . the rare self-help tome that doesnt feel shameful to read.” Daily Beast
“An enlightening, laugh-aloud read. . . . Filled with open, honest glimpses into [Rubins] real life, woven together with constant doses of humor.” Terry Hong, Christian Science Monitor
“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.” Amy Scribner, Bookpage
“For those who generally loathe the self-help genre, Rubins book is a breath of peppermint-scented air. Well-researched and sharply written. . . . Rubin takes an orderly, methodical approach to forging her own path to a happier state of mind.” Kim Crow, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"I love the bold and brave spirit of this book — along with its wit, warmth, honesty, and endearing sense of fearless self-deprecation. In these pages, the author has packed not only a year of courage, but more than enough for a lifetime. I think (and hope) that her journey will inspire many others like it!" -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
and The Signature of All Things
"I loved Lu Ann Cahn's I Dare Me! This is a book that can change your life—if you let it! Her Year of Firsts inspired me, as does the story of her life! A must-read for every woman I know!" -Lisa Scottoline, New York Times bestselling author
“Lu Ann Cahn has written a delightful and helpful guide to all the ways large and small to unstick your life. Even if you dont want to eat a grasshopper.”
-Delia Ephron, author of Sister Mother Husband Dog
“Everyone needs a best friend like Lu Ann Cahn - the bold, spontaneous, zany-in-a-good-way friend - who dares you to do what you would never otherwise consider but makes it look so fun you just have to give it a go. You might curse her name while up on that mechanical bull, but you'll end up thanking her for shaking up your life. Packed with laughter, shrieking, and the thrill of the new, I Dare Me is an irresistible guide to making every day an adventure.”
-Patty Chang Anker, author of Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave
“First first? Buy this book. Then take in Cahn's spirit and try out her plan. It can only do you good.”
-Judith Sills, Ph.D., author of The Comfort Trap or, What If Youre Riding a Dead Horse
“I Dare Me is hilariously inspiring. This book will motivate you step out of your comfort zone and take more life-changing chances to increase your life fulfillment and happiness quotient! You will fall in love with Lu Ann's charm and story-telling style, that is not just entertaining but empowering to say the least!”
-Jen Groover, author of What If and Why Not?
“Lu Ann Cahn has taken the concept of ‘falling into a rut and conquered it in the most humorous and accessible way. From plunging into the ocean on New Years Day to eating desserts all day long, she made her year of ‘firsts into a guide for anyone who needs to recharge, reboot and find the joy in the quotidian.”
-Ellen Lubin-Sherman, author of The Essentials of Fabulous
“A fun and accessible read for those looking to add excitement to their lives.”
What if you could change your life without really changing your life? On the outside, Gretchen Rubin had it all — a good marriage, healthy children and a successful career — but she knew something was missing. Determined to end that nagging feeling, she set out on a year-long quest to learn how to better enjoy the life she already had.
Each month, Gretchen pursued a different set of resolutions — go to sleep earlier, tackle a nagging task, bring people together, take time to be silly — along with dozens of other goals. She read everything from classical philosophy to cutting-edge scientific studies, from Winston Churchill to Oprah, developing her own definition of happiness and a plan for how to achieve it. She kept track of which resolutions worked and which didn't, sharing her stories and collecting those of others through her blog (created to fulfill one of March's resolutions). Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness in her life.
The Happiness Project is the engaging, relatable and inspiring result of the author's twelve-month adventure in becoming a happier person. Written with a wicked sense of humour and sharp insight, Gretchen Rubin's story will inspire readers to embrace the pleasure in their lives and remind them how to have fun.
“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 Lamas The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilberts 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 persons 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.
One womans quest to do one new thing every day of the year, what she learned, and what we all can gain from her journey...
In 2009 veteran journalist and eight-time Emmy award winner Lu Ann Cahn was feeling angry and frustrated. The economy was tanking. Her job was changing. Budgets were being cut. She resented the new technology and social media she was being asked to embrace at work. In a word, she felt stuck.”
Cahns daughter encouraged her to try blogging, and after some thought, she decided to write about trying something new every day for a year. Little did she know, that "Year of Firsts" would change her outlook on life.
For 365 days Cahn made a point of doing something she had never done before, some as simple as performing an old task in a new way, some creative and extreme:
Riding a mechanical bull Eating a scorpion
Speaking to a complete stranger on the street
Smoking a cigar
Shoveling horse manure
Zip-lining across a crocodile-infested Mexican lake
Spending a day in a wheelchair
Walking her dog backwards
Taking a drum lesson from a famous 80s rocker
In the process she discovered that "firsts" were the antidote to stuck.” I Dare Me is Cahns journey, but it's more than just a memoir. It challenges readers to confront their own fears, and encourages them to try their own "firsts."
Veteran journalist and cancer survivor Lu Ann Cahn was feeling angry and frustrated. The economy was tanking. Her job was changing. In a word, she felt stuck.”
Something had to change. Her daughter helped convince her to start a Year of Firsts.” For the next 365 days, Cahn made a point of doing something she had never done before, every day. Before she knew it, her whole perspective on life had changed. In this inspiring book, Lu Ann recounts how a new first” everyday brought excitement and wonder back into her world. And more than that, she helps readers see how they can do it too.
Participate in a Polar Bear Plunge
Speak to a complete stranger on the street
Zip-line across a crocodile-infested Mexican lake
Spend a day in a wheelchair
Learn to Hula Hoop
In this inspiring memoir backed by cutting-edge research, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and gains a fresh outlook that transforms her marriage, family life, work, health, and everyday experience.
The Gratitude Diaries follows journalist and former Parade editor in chief Janice Kaplan as she learns to gain a positive perspective and improve her life by becoming more grateful every day. In her fresh and witty journey, Kaplan discovers that gratitude isnt the same as happiness (which can be fragile and fleeting) but has deeper emotional roots, is longer-lasting, and is impervious to change or challenges.
Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, Kaplan discovers how gratitude can transform every aspect of life, including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. She interviews dozens of expertsincluding doctors, neuroscientists, researchers, academics, and philosophersand gathers extensive data from the national gratitude survey she conducted, to offer surprising findings about why gratitude changes your outlook in any situation. Through interviews with real people including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Barbra Streisand, Kaplan discovers why gratitude matters in everything from our success at work to our childrens happiness.
With warmth, humor, and vision, Janices journey seeks to empower readers to start thinking positively and change their lives.
Erin McHugh had spent the better part of her adult life doing community work, but in more recent years, the minutiae of life and working as a bookseller kept her busy and away from those higher impulses. Then one day she learned a distant relative was actually going to be canonized. Was this a sign? What followed next was McHughandrsquo;s sincere urge to recapture a sense of charity, and so she set out on her birthday to do one good deed every day for an entire year. Maybe she wouldnandrsquo;t be saving orphans from burning buildings, but she wanted to take one small, daily detour and make someone elseandrsquo;s life just a little bit better. One Good Deed
is the inspiring, smart, and frequently funny chronicle of that year, in which each page represents a day in McHughandrsquo;s journey to reclaim the better part of herself, inspiring readers to do the same.
Praise for One Good Deed:
andldquo;Her memoir will inspire you to flex your do-gooder muscle without being preachy or a Pollyanna.andrdquo; andndash;Fitness
andldquo;7 Good Deeds That Could Change Your Lifeandrdquo; andmdash;Redbook
andldquo;Engaging, funny, wise, and winning. One Good Deed is a measure of humanity and of McHughandrsquo;s own striving towards it.andrdquo;
andmdash;Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin and The Orchid Thief
andldquo;This instructive, funny, utterly relevant book reminds us that the simple (but not-so-simple) act of paying daily attention can make a profound differenceandmdash;to the world around us, and to our very selves.andrdquo;
andmdash;Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion: A Memoir
andldquo;The best book in the world...because it makes us our best.andrdquo;
andmdash;Nichole Bernier, author of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
About the Author
Veteran journalist and eight-time Emmy award-winner Lu Ann Cahn is a reporter for Philadelphias WCAU-TV. Shes currently working on special in-depth projects and exclusive high profile interviews for NBC10 News at 11p.m. Lu Ann is admired by her colleagues and viewers for her personal story of beating breast cancer at the age of 35. By going public with her struggle and determination in overcoming this disease, she raised awareness and impressed upon millions of women the importance of breast self-exam and mammography testing. Her 1992 special report, "Breast Cancer: My Personal Story," won her a national Clarion award and two Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmys.
Cahn is an honorary board member of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and serves as the annual emcee of the foundations main fundraising event, the Renaissance Ball. She also works extensively with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
Table of Contents
January, Vitality: boost energy -- February, Marriage: remember love -- March, Work: aim higher -- April, Parenthood: lighten up -- May, Leisure: be serious about play -- June, Friendship: make time for friends -- July, Money: buy some happiness -- August, Eternity: contemplate the heavens -- September, Books: pursue a passion -- October, Mindfulness: pay attention -- November, Attitude: keep a contented heart -- December, Happiness: boot camp perfect -- Your happiness project -- Further reading.