Good news! If you are married, have some free time, and some money in the bank, but don’t feel satisfied with life, this is a great book to get you on track to becoming more happy. If you aren’t married, work two or more jobs, or have debt collectors calling you regularly, then this may not be the book for you.
I’ll save you some trouble: go to page 10 and 11 and copy down Gretchen’s Twelve Commandments and here Secrets of Adulthood. Then go to the back of the book and glance at her various tips on exercise, parenting, gaining energy, and how to live nag free. All the pages in between may prove helpful, but a lot of it is personal story and supposition.
In her introduction, Ms. Rubin talks about someone asking her if her book would translate well to others not in her situation. See, she was feeling a bit low after coming off working with a Supreme Court Justice and didn’t feel satisfied writing and reading her morning papers. There had to be something else. She talks about reading all these wonderful books, but rarely makes reference to them in her writing.
The ideal formula for each chapter should have been: here’s what someone suggested, here’s what I tried. Instead, Ms. Rubin outlines the approach she thinks will bring her happiness (for whatever reason) and her attempts of implementing her strategy. Often, she deviates greatly from her experiments and overshares personal information that doesn’t help prove anything. In reading this, you’ll find out much more about her husband than you’ll ever care to know.
The reason it’s important to tell us where she’s drawing her conclusions from is because much of it doesn’t make sense. In one scenario, she’s trying not to nag and tells how happy she feels completing a project on her own while her husband is watching TV. She says, “I enjoyed not feeling like a nag more than I enjoyed watching TV.” In another instance, she describes how she said “oh, well” with a “tone of forced calm” when her husband (yes, he gets mentioned a lot) threw away unread copies of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY and THE ECONOMIST. (Do you get angry when your spouse throws away your copy of THE ECONOMIST?—hmm, maybe this doesn’t translate too well.)
And then there are the contradictions. On one hand she talks about throwing stuff away, and on the other hand she talks about buying stuff and starting collections. Pretty much every chapter involves buying something: storage crates, gym memberships, iPods. There’s even a special chapter about buying happiness.
The point is, there are some good points to be made, but too much of it reads like a diary or a blog. There’s not enough to showcase the supposed research made. Read it to learn something, but don’t expect too much. And if you are struggling to get by (still working on the bottom-half of Maslow’s hierarchy), you’ll probably end up more frustrated.
Here are some other books I recommend:
DARING GREATLY – Brene Brown
OUTLIERS – Malcom Gladwell
DRIVE – Daniel Pink
EAT MOVE SLEEP – Tom Rath
GETTING TO IT – Jones Loflin and Todd Musig