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Sunday, January 17, 2010

12 Ways to Be More Happier

A Review of Rubin Gretchen’s The Happiness Project

Rubin, G. (2009). The Happiness Project, or why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. New York, NY: Harper.

Gretchen Rubin was on the bus with her child when she had an astonishing “ah-ha” moment. She realized that this is her life. Little things like taking the bus with her child and doing her daily activities made up her world and were important parts of her own existence.

Rubin wasn’t depressed. She just wasn’t feeling as happy as she thought she could be. She wasn’t coming from a problem-solving prospective in which she was trying to fix something. Rather, she was coming more from a creative prospective in which she was trying to make something better for her own life. After all, we only get one life.

Rubin decided to take action for one full-year. Each month she set resolutions to make her life happier. She had written her memoir, The Happiness Project, to share her amazing adventure.

Reason for Reading It

Interesting things can be found in books. As you already know from my book, Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom, my recommendation is for people to read autobiographies to learn about success. Felt this book would be very beneficial for me personally (to learn more about being happier), but also professionally, (may learn some things I could apply as a recreational therapist at the psychiatric hospital.

Reading was a key element in Rubin’s process. She read tons of books on happiness to discover hidden wisdom. She read everything from Aristotle to recent scientific researchers. Imagine Rubin received many therapeutic benefits from reading these books on happiness. Recreational therapists use bibliotherapy (the use of books as a treatment technique). David Burns had written in his book, “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” that studies showed people had became happier from reading his book on feeling good.

Recreational Therapists Could Find This Book Useful

Topics covered in Rubin’s book address many things that Recreational Therapists are familiar about. Rubin had set a resolution for each month for the year.

Here is a review of her months:

January: Vitality

February: Marriage

March: Work

April: Parenthood

May: Leisure

June: Friendship

July: Money

August: Eternity

September: Books

October: Mindfulness

November: Attitude

December: Happiness

Many of these topics are beneficial for recreational therapists.

“Leisure” probably jumps out from the list for most readers. We, recreational therapists use leisure and recreation to help a person as a treatment tool and a way to help a person to become self-fulfilled and self-actualized. Rubin discusses many theories and research on leisure and how she applied it to her own life, like Flow theory. Of course, the chapter on “work” is important, too because Work and Play are opposites of each other. They’re like ying and yang because we can’t have one without the other.

“Parenthood” was a useful chapter for me. Please note that I don’t have children, but I do provide services for children. Rubin points out how research shows that rewarding children for behaviors turns the behavior into work and it makes the child less likely to do the behavior for fun. So, don’t reward children, especially for recreation and leisure. Remember that the real reward is inherited in the activity.

Social interaction is often an important part of leisure and recreation. Many recreational therapists teach social skills and how to build a social support network. The chapter on friendship provides some useful insights, too. Rubin discusses other topics throughout the book related to social psychology, such as “aggression theory,” how expressing emotions through aggressive behaviors doesn’t calm a person down, but increase the behavior. Of course, this is a memoir and not a text-book. Found the reading to be enjoyable myself, as a person who enjoys reading autobiography, journals, and memoirs.

Here are some of my personal favorites from Rubin’s book.

Rubin had written several times throughout the book that, “the days are long, but the years are short.” How true this is. Our days are limited on Earth. We only have so many, so a person might as well do their best each day, have a positive attitude, enjoy it, and be glad for every single day we’ve got.

Rubin is a book-lover. She avidly reads. Throughout her book, she tells about going to the library, having stacks of books, and being a member of reading groups. Felt connected to her through this book because I, too, share the same love for reading.

What I’ll Apply

Many people have started their own “happiness projects” after reading Rubin’s book. Don’t believe I’ll start one, but do plan to develop monthly resolutions. Plan to accomplish something different each month of my own life throughout 2010.


Rubin, G. (2009). The Happiness Project, or why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean my Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. New York, NY: Harper.

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