“The Happiness Project”: A RARE Approach

As promised, here’s more about Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. I’m reposting and updating my 2010 posts about it each day this week to celebrate the release of her new book “Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life”.

Why I liked the “The Happiness Project”.

1. It was fun to read, had a nice flow to it, and was like listening to an interesting friend.

2. Gretchen had a great way of blending her skills as a researcher with her talents for storytelling.

3. I liked the approach she used to create the life she wanted, which I’m describing as “RARE”.

RARE: Gretchen did her Research, took Action, and time to Review her findings, while remaining Enthusiastic throughout the process. I like that, and think it is pretty RARE for someone to do that in their personal life.


Gretchen conducted two types of informal research – internal and external.

Internal: Gretchen took time to figure out what she cared about – living a fuller life – and what she thought was missing – happiness, well, a deeper, richer happiness.

External: Then she spent time researching the topic – happiness – to find out if there were already answers to the question she was asking herself. Gretchen read everything she could get her hands on related to happiness from “Aristotle to Martin Seligman to Thoreau to Oprah”  (Martin Seligman is known as the “Father of Positive Psychology”. I’m a big fan and have blogged quite a bit about his research.)


The research she did was her first action step; her second action step was organizing what she read and devising a series of “experiments” for herself – she tried all sorts of methods for increasing her happiness; her third step was creating charts to guide and track her progress.

Sounds like a lot of work, and it was, but she made it fun, and as simple as possible. Gretchen knew if she tried to change her life in a haphazard fashion, she wouldn’t see the results she wanted – so she planned, charted and even started a blog. Very cool.


I love this part of her approach. Gretchen reviewed what worked and what didn’t work for her, and then made adjustments when needed instead of abandoning her efforts. She didn’t throw in the towel, or throw the baby out with the bath water. Instead, she reduced her self-incriminations and ramped-up the getting-back-on-the-horse and the back-into-the-ring approaches.

She never gave-up, she simply gave herself feedback and listened to it!

And, last but certainly not least, Gretchen remained . . .


She celebrated her successes – big or small – and rewarded  herself along the way. The celebrations and rewards kept her enthusiasm high, and allowed more time for positive results to develop, which improved her life and gave her the energy she needed to keep going.

I’m not saying she never felt disillusioned, she did and explained when and why in her book with humor and engaging humility, but she did not let those feelings stop her.

Gretchen put her time in, paid her dues, and committed to the process. She plotted and planned, which is a good strategy for any type of change. Plotting and planning almost always makes the process more valuable to us. The more effort we expend, the more we value the process and the more we tend to want to make it to the finish line.

Gretchen used a RARE, year-long approach to finding happiness, and it worked!

Ready to begin your own “happiness project”? Contact life coach Patrice Koerper to get started.

Happy is as happy does. 

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