A book that tests out all the happiness theories. With a glut of books, from philosophical to practical, this seemed like THE ultimate book. Someone else would spend a year testing all of the approaches and advice in a methodical way, and tell us what works to help us through the minefield of “how can I be happy”. The title “The Happiness Project” immediately caught my eye for these reasons.
How many times have people said they want to change their work-life balance so they can be happy?

What if we could be happy anyway, with exactly what we are doing, right now? Click To Tweet
The concept – having someone go through all of the options that happiness gurus offer and reviewing them – is strong one, but somehow this feel short. Whilst it was easy to read, with lots of inspiring quotes and real life case studies (as part of the blog that ran alongside her experiment”) it left me feeling a little “meh”. Maybe I am too used to monumental “aha” moments in books or was expected some type of new information, but I just found this just a little twee.

The principle is simple, theme each month and concentrate on how this can impact her happiness with the grand finale month of December bringing it all together. If you are like me, you will have probably read of all the different ways we can influence our happiness:


Gretchen decided to see how these theories will impact a variety of areas in her life:

Vitality: Marriage: Work: Parenthood: Leisure: Friendship: Money: Eternity: Books: Mindfulness: Attitude

Whilst the writing style was approachable, the book just landed a little “twee” with me. I was so concerned that I was becoming too cynical in my old age, that I had a look at other reviews of the book.

The Happiness Project
Safe to say, it wasn’t just me who feels like this.
However, I aim to live my life in a glass half full (or refillable) way, so I still found some moments of interest and inspiration, and wanted to share these with you now.
It felt like it could have been me
Aside from the sentimentality, there was a day to day element to the book; no great big overseas adventures or challenges. She was striving to review her year of happiness in-between the school run, being a working parent, family, friends and festivities.
The importance of consistency
In a world of instant access and 24/7 exposure, there can be times that we forget that change TAKES TIME. We can see that with focus and consistency, things can change – nothing happens overnight.
Where happiness comes from
Only we can make ourselves happy; we are not responsible for other’s happiness, and they are not responsible for ours.
Where “stuff” fits in
The highlight of current life is the realisation (backed by science) that materialism doesn’t make us happy. Experiences are long lasting and make us more positive. The interesting take from this year-long project is that whilst stuff didn’t make her happy – it helped. The things she bought would often have an added value outside of what they were bought for. Take a book for example; time to relax, new information and creative thinking.
Do you know what makes you happy?
Do you actually know when you are happy? Do you slow down and pay attention when you are happy? Notice what you are noticing when that feeling takes over.
We can all spend our lives chasing an abstract word without truly recognising how we feel when we are happy. By reflecting on when we last felt happy, what that actually felt like and what was happening around us, we can then work creating an environment and a life where it happens a lot more! Then, we don’t need a year-long Happiness Project, we simply need to do one thing:


What did you think about the book? Join The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to share your thoughts and find out when the next online book club is taking place.

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