The Happiness Project (Paperback)

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

Harper Paperbacks, 9780061583261, 336pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2011

Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (12/28/2009)
Compact Disc (8/17/2015)
Hardcover, Large Print, Large Print (10/1/2012)
Hardcover (12/29/2009)
Paperback (12/29/2015)
Paperback (7/5/2012)
Paperback (12/1/2010)
Paperback, Spanish (1/15/2011)

List Price: 14.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


New York Times #1 Bestseller

More Than 1 Million Copies Sold

Updated With New Material

“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 Lama’s The Art of Happiness and Elizabeth Gilbert’s 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 person’s 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.

About the Author

I'm the author of the New York Times bestsellers "The Happiness Project," “Happier at Home” and “Better Than Before.” I write about my experiences as I test-drive the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about happiness, habits, and human nature. My next book will hit the shelves in summer 2017: “The Four Tendencies: The Surprising Truth about the Four Hidden Personality Types That Drive Everything We Do.”

Find out your Tendency—are you an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel?—when you take the free quiz at

Subscribe to my award-winning weekly podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin (more than 1 million downloads each month) and hear my sister and I discuss strategies and tips for how to make your daily life happier. I also created an app to help people harness the power of the Four Tendencies. Learn more at or search the app store for “Better Gretchen Rubin.”

My previous books include a bestselling biography of Winston Churchill, "Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill,” and one of John Kennedy, “Forty Ways to Look at JFK.” My first book, “Power Money Fame S..: A User's Guide,” is social criticism in the guise of a user's manual. I wrote “Profane Waste in collaboration with artist Dana Hoey. I've also written three dreadful novels that are safely locked away in a drawer.

Before turning to writing, I had a career in law. A graduate of Yale and Yale Law School, I clerked for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. I live in New York City with my husband and two daughters.


Praise For 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

“An enlightening, laugh-aloud read. . . . Filled with open, honest glimpses into [Rubin’s] real life, woven together with constant doses of humor.”
— Terry Hong, Christian Science Monitor

“For those who generally loathe the self-help genre, Rubin’s 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

“Practical and never preachy . . . the rare self-help tome that doesn’t feel shameful to read.”
Daily Beast

“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

Conversation Starters from

  1. Gretchen argues throughout The Happiness Project that striving to be happy is a worthy, not selfish, goal. Do you agree? Do you think that Gretchen was right, or not, to devote so much time and attention to her own happiness? Do you spend much time thinking about your happiness?
  2. The Happiness Project is packed with quotations. Which quotation resonated most with you? Do you have a quotation that has been particularly meaningful in your own life—that you've included in your email signa–ture or taped to your desk, for example?
  3. One of Gretchen's resolutions is to "Imitate a spiritual master." Do you have a spiritual master? Who is it? Gretchen was surprised to realize that St. Therese of Lisieux was her master. Do you know why you identify with your spiritual master?
  4. Gretchen observes that "Outer order contributes to inner calm," and many of her resolutions are aimed at clutter-clearing. Do you agree that clutter affects your happiness?
  5. One of Gretchen's main arguments is that "You're not happy unless you think you're happy," and she spends a lot of time thinking about her happiness. However, many important figures have argued just the opposite; for example, John Stuart Mill wrote, "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so." What do you think? Does striving for happiness make you happier? Or does it make happiness more elusive?
  6. Did reading this book make you want to try one of the resolutions? Which one?
  7. A criticism of The Happiness Project might be that writing a "year of…" book is gimmicky. Did you like the "experiment for a year" approach, or did it strike you as a cliché? Why do you think so many authors are drawn to this structure?
  8. Many memoirs recount the author's struggle to be happiness in the face of a major challenge like cancer, divorce, an unhappy childhood, massive weight loss, and the like. In the book's opening, Gretchen admits that she has always been pretty happy. Did you find her reflections on happiness helpful, nevertheless? Or do you think it's more valuable to read an account by someone facing more difficulties?
  9. Gretchen writes, "Everyone's happiness project will be different." How would your happiness project be different from Gretchen's? How might it be the same?
  10. What was the one most valuable thing you learned from The Happiness Project about happiness—for yourself?