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Gretchen Rubin’s ‘The Happiness Project:’ A blogger’s road map to contentment skyrockets to No. 2 on the bestseller list

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What if you took a year and went through your book shelves, your notebooks and all the things the world tells us about how to be happy? Would it work? Or would it just be a jumble of a year filled with self-help mantras battling for attention?

Gretchen Rubin tried it. She spent a year researching and playing, reading and trying new things. If there was a study, a book or a philosophy about happiness, she devoured it. And then she followed its advice. and she blogged about it. And the blog became a book, winningly subtitled “Or, Why I Spent A Year Trying To Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.”

And we are paying attention. Rubin's book was out just a week when it hit No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list, and is the 14th hottest seller on Amazon (even including fiction).

Rubin has clearly hit a nerve. There are a lot of us who are are having hard times right now, and we want to know that the key to making them better lies inside us.

An excerpt:
“As I looked out the blurry bus window, I saw two figures cross the street — a woman about my age trying simultaneously to balance an umbrella, look at her cell phone, and push a stroller carrying a yellow-slickered child. The sight gave me a jolt of recognition: that’s me, I thought, there I am. I have a stroller, a cell phone, an alarm clock, an apartment, a neighborhood. Right now, I’m riding the same crosstown bus that I take across the park, back and forth. This is my life — but I never give any thought to it.

I wasn’t depressed and I wasn’t having a midlife crisis, but I was suffering from midlife malaise — a recurrent sense of discontent and almost a feeling of disbelief. “Can this be me?” I’d wonder as I picked up the morning newspapers or sat down to read my e-mail. “Can this be me?” My friends and I joked about the “beautiful house” feeling, when, as in the David Byrne song “Once in a Lifetime,” we’d periodically experience the shock of thinking “This is not my beautiful house.”

“Is this really it?” I found myself wondering, and answering, “Yep, this is it.”

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January 14, 2010 - 8:13pm
EmpowHER Guest

I love it. At 45 now, I'm finding that nothing is "sacred" to me, and by that I mean that nothing is set in stone. My world feels different and my need to experience all life has to offer has a sense of urgency now. I became in a midlife venture of sorts, with three other people who felt the same way, and so together we are setting out to see how much life we can soak up. It's joy -

January 11, 2010 - 1:27pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.