The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin
"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence." Aristotle
Is happiness the good? Is the pursuit of happiness a worthy goal? Or is it a self-centered and shallow aspiration? In spite of the "pop culture" and "self-help" appearance of this book, I found it to be very thoughtful, well-researched, personable, engaging, and highly practical.
Gretchen Rubin makes a strong case that increasing one's happiness, indeed, is a very worthwhile goal to pursue, having great benefits and positive effects on all aspects of life, psychological, inter-personal, social, and even ethical. In The Happiness Project, she develops a general theory of happiness that is anything but shallow (in many ways resonant with Aristotle's concept of happiness), where happiness is an accomplishment--even a virtue--and further, she articulates a systematic program for how to realize greater happiness in one's life. Of particular note, Rubin works from a "resolution" framework, rather than a "goal achievement" framework: A resolution is something maintained as an ongoing new feature of one's way of life, rather than a goal which is something accomplished and completed.
Further, Rubin is really into self-monitoring--keeping lists of resolutions and daily checking off successes and failures; conscientious and methodical self-monitoring turns out to be a key supporting condition for effective self-transformation and the realization of happiness.
Filled with memorable quotes and simply stated principles ("Do good, feel good."), The Happiness Project is a great read. Further, it is worthwhile, for those interested, to compare Rubin's approach to Martin Seligman's books Authentic Happiness and Flourish.