Understanding Happiness

Where I Try To Figure Out What Happiness Means To Me


Tuesday | January 01, 2019

Book: The Happiness Project

Author: Gretchen Rubin


I believe happiness is subjective. Many of my friends seem happy in their own life, with their high-paying jobs, or in romantic relationships. I, on the other hand, tend to lean towards the more philosophical side of life or cherish more meaningful things instead of materialistic things. I think it has more to do with the fact that I tend to live inside my mind quite a lot and read extensively instead of indulging in other worldly pleasures.

Life is made up of different moments, both sad and happy, and everyone has to go through the rain to get to the rainbow. The grass on the other side always looks greener, but often it is not so. If everyone’s problems are not the same, how can the solution be? So, my simple goal at the start of this experiment is to get a general idea of what happiness is, or what it should and can be for me. In a nutshell, what makes me happy and what I need to do to be happy.

Countless people have written and/or developed new theories as to how happiness works. Using logic and experiments, several experts have developed a general idea of what happiness is, and how to achieve it. I want to give it a more personal touch by constructing it around the trials and tribulations I’ve faced till now, and work on overcoming those. But I would be a fool if I did not at least see what other people have done in their quest for happiness. It will be great to get a basic idea of where to start instead of meandering around like a headless chicken.

Why This Book

Nothing makes more sense to me than to have a detailed plan of action and dividing stuff into manageable chunks. I’m organised to the point of madness. After much research, I zeroed in on Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project as it seems that she did a healthy amount of reading and research about happiness before launching into her own project. It gives me confidence that it was not done on a whim but actually thought through.

Self-help books are generally not my forte, but Rubin is said to have played out her experiences in a friendly, approachable and easy readable narrative that will not only make you want to start your own ‘Happiness Project,’ but to actually start working on improving yourself. She employs a more personal approach to things as opposed to the scientific methods usually seen in self-help books, which, honestly, can be rather dull.

Many people take journeys to distant lands or go jet-setting around the world to” achieve” happiness. Think Eat Pray Love. I can’t do that. Neither did the author. She started her journey at home, making small improvements and achieving mini-victories in the pursuit of happiness. Rubin outlines the work you have to do before taking on such a life change, like:

  • Identify what brings you joy.
  • Identify what makes you sad.
  • Make resolutions keeping your problems in sight and strive to take concrete actions on every one of those.
  • Keep those resolutions. The hardest part.

For each month of the year, Rubin identified one area where she thinks she requires improvement and used karmic philosophies, meditation, science and various other approaches to find happiness.

I will follow a similar approach: take my ‘problems’ as themes, read books on them and try to figure out how to work on them to finally achieve at least some semblance of happiness.

Reading Time

I expect it to take me 1-2 weeks to read the book as I want to take it slow and give myself time to contemplate the approaches in the book and see which parts of the book are helpful on the path to happiness. It will also give me the time to incorporate one or two tips in my daily life and experiment with them.


Identifying the roadblocks on my way to happiness and formulate a basic plan of action to follow as I strive for happiness.

I will update my findings in my next journal entry scheduled to drop two weeks from now, on January 15, 2019. So, keep an eye out for it or even better, subscribe to The Curious Reader newsletter to have it delivered straight to your inbox.

Prasanna Sawant

Prasanna Sawant

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she's not sleeping or eating, you'll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it's best not to approach her before she's had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here