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 (Harper Collins, 2009)
Is it selfish to think about our own happiness?
Had this book not been recommended by someone I respect, I'd have given it a wide berth out of just such a concern. And that would have been a sad mistake. Certainly we are now awash in tragedies caused by people seeking their own happiness at others' expense, but as Rubin adroitly demonstrates,
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.
No one who regularly reads my reviews will be surprised to hear that I have my points of disagreement with Gretchen Rubin, but they are surprisingly few. Although she bolsters her conclusions with quotes from her extensive research into happiness theory, this book is primarily a highly personal account of the year she spent in the laboratory of her own life. Rubin is a wealthy woman, a best-selling author, and a lawyer who once worked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; she lives in New York City, employs a nanny, and likes to collect objects that need to be dusted. Despite the obvious contrasts with my own life, there's much in her discoveries that inspires me.
I highly recommend The Happiness Project—especially for those who have been trained to answer "yes" to the question above. There's a sequel, just released, called Happier at Home, but I'm 10th in line at our library so won't be reviewing that one for a while. However, as with many contemporary books, there's a lot to explore at the Happiness Project website.