Reads & Listens

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

March 30, 2020

Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project has made me keenly aware of the busy bee blur that has begun to occur in my life….

That the constant shifts between ambition, productivity, and fun have perhaps caused my intentions to get lost in the mix of things. 

Flowing With the Go has turned into Just Go to Stay Afloat, if ya know what I mean. This is not how I want to live my life.

For those that have forgotten THE HAPPINESS PROJECT buzz of 2009, let me refresh your memory:

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 (Thank you, GoodReads).

It is one of those books that has inspired many people to go on yearlong soul-searching journeys–the kind that pushes them to reassess their whole lives and the way they’re showing up in it…without having to actually change their whole lives.

I’ve come to look at it as the Eat, Pray, Love type of happiness quest…but for those that have no desire to search for their happiness around the world. 

In all honesty, I didn’t expect to like this book but, as books often do, it seemed to fall into my lap at the exact right moment.

And, this fine point leads me to…

12 THINGS I LEARNED READING 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 by Gretchen Rubin


“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

Let’s get one thing real clear, happiness is not synonymous with feeling good all the time. Oftentimes, long-term happiness involves a great deal of growth and discomfort.

Making yourself happy is not a selfish act. Making the choice to be happy and exerting the effort that is required to maintain your happiness, is a selfless act. 

So, remember, the next time you feel selfish for taking 5 minutes to yourself, or for taking a day off from your business, or for prioritizing you any which way…a happier you, leads to a happier world. 


“Enthusiasm is more important than innate ability, it turns out because the single more important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

You can learn anything. You can master anything. As long as you have the passion to go after it and the gumption, the enthusiasm to practice until it works. The truth is…if you wouldn’t do the thing just for the hell of it, for the fun of it…chances are, you aren’t going to do it for long.

This is why it is so important that we follow our curiosities, that we don’t allow the fear of sucking to keep us from moving forward. Everybody sucks when they first start out. But, those that master a skill, a topic, and artform…they embrace the suck. And, they do it with enthusiasm.


“… one flaw throws the loveliness of [everything else] into focus. I remember reading that Shakers deliberately introduced a mistake into the things they made, to show that man shouldn’t aspire to the perfection of God. Flawed can be more perfect than perfection.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT:

Perfection should never be the aim. Creation, contribution, innovation, impact…that’s the goal. 

It’s time to let go of the fear of judgement. It’s time to be brave, and do things before you’re “ready”. Whatever the thing is.


“I enjoy the fun of failure. It’s fun to fail, I kept repeating. It’s part of being ambitious; it’s part of being creative. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

Embracing the fun of failure is certainly not inherent in many of us. But, for those that master it, that really gets it? They view it as an inevitability, a necessary step that will ultimately lead them to their most surreal successes.

Some of our most valuable lessons are learned from our failures, some of our greatest achievements are born from them. 

So fail big, fail often, dudette.


“Studies show that one of the best ways to lift your mood is to engineer an easy success, such as tackling a long-delayed chore.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

This right here is the perfect reminder that not everything needs to be so hard. The little wins matter too. Honestly, sometimes they matter more than the big ones, don’t ya think?

Set yourself up for an easy win every once in a while. 


“…you have to do that kind of work for yourself. If you do it for other people, you end up wanting them to acknowledge it and to be grateful and to give you credit. If you do it for yourself, you don’t expect other people to react in a particular way.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

What is your intention for doing the thing? 

It is so easy to get caught in the validation vortex…believe me, I get it…So, do yourself a favour and check-in. 

Am I doing this for me? Or, am I doing it for the approval, cool points, bonus points of somebody else?


“I have an idea of who I wish I were, and that obscures my understanding of who I actually am.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

Letting go of who you always thought you would be or the person you used to be can be hard. So, take an audit of the things you ACTUALLY like to do. Me? Books with wizards, rewatching the same movies 100 times over, and caffeinated beverages. 

Choose to let go of things you WISHED were fun. 

You ever read something, do something, or watch something because you think it’s going to make you seem cool, or smart, or cultured…but in actuality, you do not give 2 flying flips about it?

To be happy, you’ve got to BE YOU, DUDE and do the things that sincerely make YOU happy.


“I had everything I could possibly want — yet I was failing to appreciate it. Bogged down in petty complaints and passing crises, weary of struggling with my own nature, I too often failed to comprehend the splendor of what I had.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

Take inventory of your life…of all the things you are lucky to have. Have you been “bogged down” by what you don’t have, lately? What you wish you had? 

Take a minute to appreciate this very moment, what you are lucky enough to have at this very moment.

Write a list. Put it somewhere you’ll see it every day and keep adding to it. 

9. WE ONLY HAVE THIS SECOND (Yup, this one right here)

“Life is too short to save your good china or your good lingerie or your good ANYTHING for later because truly, later may never come.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

All you really have is this moment. So freaking do the thing, buy the plane ticket, kiss the girl god damn’t! (ok, I’ve maybe watched one too many romcoms).


“There are times in the lives of most of us,” observed William Edward Hartpole Lecky, “when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over us unappreciated and unenjoyed.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

Something that I often forget to do these days when I feel like my deadline matters more than playing with my puppy, or spending 15 extra minutes talking with my partner in the morning over coffee, or taking 5 minutes just to sit with myself. 

Not taking the time to simply still my thoughts and think, what do I actually feel like doing right now? Am I acting consciously right now? Where can I fit fun into this day? Because it’s the only day I’ve got. 

Get off the hamster wheel and just register the intentions behind your actions, your choices.

Pause. Breathe.


“I don’t want to reject my life. I want to change my life without changing my life.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

To seek growth and to cultivate more happiness, does not need to mean you are miserable in the one you are living.

It means you choose to adopt habits, attitudes, and actions that will serve your long-term happiness. It doesn’t need to mean quitting your job and selling your house to live in a shack off the ocean (although, go for it if that sounds fun to you). It could simply mean playing with your dogs more, committing to a weekly date night, or letting go of your addiction to Cool Ranch Doritos. 

Recognize that certain aspects of your life are not contributing to you living your happiest life, as your happiest you…Now, release them. 


“Instead of always worrying about being efficient, I wanted to spend time on exploration, experimentation, digression, and failed attempts that didn’t always look productive.” — GRETCHEN RUBIN, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT

Right now, as I build a business and make a pivot in my life, I spend a great deal of my time doing things like calendar blocking, crossing things off a list (for the thrill), and setting timelines for client work.

But, sometimes I need the reminder that productivity is not the ultimate goal. 

Living your freaking life for the heck of living it. That is the goal.

Let life be an experiment. Let business be an experiment. 

Explore. Have Fun. Create Stories. Write Stories. Do it all.

And remember…

Life is yours to create, so write the story of your damn dreams.

Want to learn more about creativity, storytelling, and developing a writer’s mindset?

Goodie! It might not be an A-List, but the Laffy Email Squad is a pretty cool thing to be a part of if you’re looking to learn some things about how to be more you in your brand and copy.

So. Are ya? Yeah? Awesome! Sign on up!