The Happiness Project {A Book Review}

February 3, 2013

I haven’t written a book review in quite some time. I have been reading but the books weren’t worth writing a whole post until now. A few weeks ago however I finished reading "The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin and I couldn’t wait to share my thoughts on it. In fact, I was practically writing up  a blog post in my head as I was reading since there was so much I could identify myself with.

I first heard of the book through Julie’s book club post and the reviews that I read all intrigued me to dive straight in. I didn’t though! It was beginning of this year that I actually started reading and the timing could not have been more perfect. It gave me a clear vision of how I could change my life by tweaking little things and becoming even happier.


It’s a thought-provoking read and it definitely triggered some kind of change in how I think about happiness now. The book follows the author’s year of achieving more happiness in her life. At the beginning of the year she created a resolutions chart. Each month was devoted to creating more happiness in another field of her life. Although her life is clearly quite different to mine {she is an author, mother and wife after all} it was amusing to read her take on certain subjects and feeling like she was writing about me.

One of the questions Gretchen was asked frequently was “so, are you not happy?” She answered that she was happy but that she could be even happier. This to me is the perfect answer. Even if you think that you are the happiest you can be, more happiness can always be just around the corner and your life can take a positive turn any moment. This is something that is important to remember especially when you have a down-day {we all have them!}


My dad sometimes get’s to talk to a coach at work who specializes in team-building and has extremely powerful thoughts on positive thinking. Over the holidays my dad invited him to our house and me and my siblings each got the chance to talk to him. Although I try to be as positive I can, occasionally I find myself thinking negative thoughts about myself or even worse, talking about myself in a negative way, mostly sarcastically.

One of the first things the coach asked me was whether I was happy. Promptly I answered: “yes, of course!”. Next, he asked whether I could define happiness {that was a tough one!}. I felt like I was being quizzed in school but I was honest and listed him the many reasons I have to be happy and thankful.

I am healthy, have wonderful siblings and a great brother from another mother {that’s you Fraser}, the most wonderful, thoughtful, understanding and generous, loving parents and friends who I can count on whenever I need them. In addition to that in the first 23 years of my life I’ve travelled the world, have seen some of the most breathtaking places. I grew up in Indonesia, was given the opportunity to study in England, now work in Munich which is only a stone’s throw from home, Austria. How could I not be happy? I count myself extremely fortunate to have won the battle against anorexia and couldn’t imagine my life any other way. But this book was a wake-up call showed me that I could be even happier!

There’s quite a few things I’d like to change, improve or start this year. For the first time in a very long time I created a vision board which I hung up next to my desk in my room. It’s a reminder of what’s important to me and in which direction I want to steer my life in this year. I want to focus on some personal goals, my health and friendships.


In addition I want to de-clutter my life. I try to be a tidy person and I generally lead an orderly life. I can’t stand a dirty kitchen, bathroom or room but I’m not OCD-tidy. I don’t mind having clutter piling up in my room even though if I had the choice I’d like an all-year-round tidy room. The problem is sometimes that I just can’t be bothered to hang up my clothes but rather just hang it over the sofa. And instead of bringing out the rubbish when time’s right I wait until the bin is overflowing. All these chores don’t take that long but more often than not I just can’t be bothered. Every other week however I feel the need to get rid of junk and  then I thoroughly clean my room. My brothers and sister make fun of me and tell me that my room resembles a supermarket. In addition to photography props {plates, cutlery, table linens, etc.} I store most of my kitchen gadgets in my room. Our kitchen, which I share with three other girls is tiny and there’s hardly enough storage space for us all. So I’m forced to store food {pantry stuff} in my room. This generally does not pose a problem but whenever I carry things back from the kitchen I never put things back where they belong but pile them up on the desk until I clean up at the weekends. It annoys me that I don’t have the will to do those things straight away and it’s certainly one aspect of my life I want to change.

On a personal level I want to try to have more fun and be more relaxed. I tend to follow an agenda, find pleasure in crossing things off of my to-do list and have daily regimens that are hard to get rid of. An example might be going to bed early. On most days I go to the gym before work {I’m currently training for a half-marathon} and try to be at work by 8.15am. I know that I can’t sleep in and be at the gym at the same time and hence get up at 5.30am. I know I could survive on less sleep during the week and sleep in at the weekends but for some weird reason I get all nervous when the clock strikes 10pm and I’m not nearly ready to go to bed. In addition to this I don’t allow myself to sleep in properly at the weekends because I want to make full use of the weekends and that’s only possible when you get up before sunrise…


During our New Year’s Eve party I had the best time although it typically isn’t something that I would enjoy. I’ve always loved to stay in at night, curl up in bed, read a book, or watch my favorite movie but this year I will make an effort to be more social and go out with friends once the sun has set. It will cost me a lot of effort to get all dolled up, head out in the middle of the night and generally be miles away from my comfort zone but I know that in return I might fall into bed a happier person. I say “ might” because clubbing isn’t something I tend to enjoy but as least it will make my friends happy if I tag along.

For more happiness inspiration you can visit Gretchen’s Happiness blog here.


Thank you Pinterest for filling this wordy post with pops of color!

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  • Reply Katie H. February 3, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I love this post! I can’t wait to read the book 🙂

  • Reply Ulli February 3, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I have this as an e-book on my iPhone and am already very curious to read it!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!!

  • Reply Meghan@cleaneatsfastfeets February 5, 2013 at 3:09 am

    A little more happy can’t hurt anyone. It’s always good to work towards finding your happy.

  • Reply Nina February 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    That sounds like an interesting book! It’s now on my to-read list 🙂

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