This fascinating book by Gretchen Rubin has been touted as a self-help book for those who are seeking happiness. But really, it is more the enchanting story of how Ms.Rubin discovered her own path to happiness, and her interest in sharing that path with her readers. Personally, I have never been overwhelmed with the desire to read much Samuel Johnson, although that is one of the stepping stones of Rubin’s path to happiness. The book reaches out to the reader by explaining that the need is not really needing “help” (as in “self-help”) but in wanting to understand herself, what makes her tick, what she wants of life, and how getting it is a personal responsibility, not the task of any specific person or thing in our lives.
Another misleading factor, for me, in appreciating this book for the author’s intent, was the “at home” bit. This is not how to make your home happy as much as it is a set of personal truths that Rubin delineates for her readers. She calls them The Eight Splendid Truths. Each one is personal to Rubin, truths that she has discovered that have made her path to happiness stronger. If you are aware of her first book - The Happiness Project, you will find this less how-to and more an insight to what Rubin was looking for, longing for, reaching for. The truths are listed in order at the end of the book, and expressed and explained within the chapters, whose headings include nine chapters based on the school year, from September through May.
Along the way, Rubin shares her personal insights, and her own theories. One that made a lot of sense to me, was that we learn more from specifics than generalities. So reading about how one woman discovered her personal happiness triggers would be more helpful than some deep philosophical treatise on happiness in general. She is not saying that her footsteps are ones the reader should emulate, but rather, see as a way to create your own happiness in the richness and fullness of what is your own life’s patterns.
The appendices are terrific; An Afterward that includes information on her enthusiasm for “good smells,” and a quick update on how she is applying her techniques to her ongoing life; Your Happiness Project, and how to get started; and lastly a thorough listing of Suggestions for Further Reading. If you can let go of the idea that this book is going to give you the answers, and that happiness is achievable simply by the reading of self-help books, you should come away from the reading of this book enriched and energized about applying those Truths to your search for personal happiness.