The Happiness Project
Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Reviews
Since one-word reviews are frowned upon at the Cannonball Read, I’ll elaborate. Like Sophia, who read this book prior (and whose review I should have read first), I had some issues with the depth of this book. I got some useful tips from it, and it was a pretty quick read (I read it in about three days), but I didn’t enjoy it. It was like watching a rerun of one of the filler episodes of Friends – it was fine, and I laughed a bit, but I could have been doing something better with my time. (And also like the characters in friends, the people in this book are affluent, white, and seem fake.)
That’s probably part of my problem. I don’t particularly like what this author presents of herself. While that doesn’t really matter with other books, it’s kind of a big deal with this style of book. There was an ‘aww shucks’ quality that is not my particular cup of tea. Additionally, this woman started from pretty high up on the happiness scale. Not that any happiness discussion should be limited to those who have been deeply unhappy, and I recognize that there is value in helping people improve their lives regardless of where they started from, but COME ON. This woman is rich. This woman has two healthy, adorable daughters that she clearly loves. Both the kids grandparents were alive as of the writing of the book, and her in-laws (whom she also adores) live around the corner. She makes a living following her passion. And all of that was BEFORE she started the Happiness Project.
But as I said, that doesn’t necessarily mean what she’s going to say doesn’t have value; it just means a whole hell of a lot of people aren’t going to be able to find much in common with her and so may find it a little hard to think that singing in the morning is really going to change things for them. And Ms. Rubin is clear that this is *her* happiness project, and that everyone’s will be different. But I’d be more inclined to start on my own if the one I’d just read hadn’t been so … weirdly lacking in self-awareness. For example, she talks about wanting to eat better but seems to applaud herself because she’s NOT going on a diet. She’s just … cutting out food groups entirely to lose weight. O-kay. And while she has the healthy view that you can’t change others, you can only change yourself, some of the discussions around trying to give up needing to be praised kind of make her husband look like he’s taking total advantage of her. And since I know about 300 pages worth of her marriage (i.e. next to nothing), I’ve no right to actually judge that relationship. But it was impossible to remove my thoughts on the author from what the author was saying.
Here’s my take-away: if you respond well to checklists, you’ve got an interest in somewhat saccharin writing, and you are looking for a dozen or so useful nuggets, sure. Add this to your list. Otherwise … no need. Shoot, you can even email me and I’ll send you the items I thought were the most useful if you’d really rather not bother.