“I knew Happiness was right here, right now – as in the haunting play The Blue Bird, where two children spend a year searching the world for the Bluebird of Happiness, only to find the bird waiting for them when they finally return home.” (Gretchen Rubin)Many of the greatest minds (like Russell, Schopenhauer, Plato, Dalai Lama) have written much on the question of happiness. They have went to every extent just to elaborate what makes us happy and what does not. And so as I was turning over the first page of ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin, I was really looking forward to witness: what new she has to say and how will she assure that nothing is being restated. And as the pages went on, I felt elated for it not only specifies what and why but also provides a whole disquisition on HOW to be happy (something that is communicated not often).My happiness project was both, I wanted to perfect my character, but, given my nature, that would probably involve charts, deliverables, to-do lists, new vocabulary terms and compulsive note taking. By adopting the role of happiness teacher, if only for myself, I was trying to find the method to conquer my particular faults and limitations. Throughout our lives, if not all yet many of our decisions are made keeping in view the map to pursuit of happiness. Most of our actions and choices are justified by saying, ‘I’ll be happy’ or ‘It makes me happy’. Talking of idiosyncratic experience, I have always felt that being happy is something overrated because not every happiness leads to the state of satisfaction. Probably this is because we base our definition of happiness entirely on achievement of materialistic gains however the state of happiness is something more deeper and selfless.I started my happiness project because I wanted to prepare. I was a very fortunate person but the wheel would turn. One of the goals of happiness project was to prepare for adversity – to develop develop self-discipline and the mental habits to deal with a bad thing when it happened. I didn’t want to wait for a crisis to remake my life. Rubin Gretchen, through her book gives us various altruistic reasons on why to be happy. The preamble titled “Getting Started” states all the possible reasons that governed the writer to begin her Happiness Project, reasons like: to be more grateful for the ordinary day, to outgrow particular faults and limitations, to perfect the character and to prepare for adversity. Through a thorough research on various writers, Rubin tries to tackle two basic questions pertaining to happiness: is it possible to make yourself happier, if yes, then how?The reason that she focuses the most on pursuit of happiness is the fact that one person’s happiness leads to the happiness of others. Most of our negative reactions and actions are triggered by the very fact of us being unhappyOne of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy myself. When I was happy, I was more patient, more forgiving, more energetic, more lighthearted and more generous.Interestingly, Rubin provides a formula which makes this project sounds more selfless than selfish. The reason that she focuses the most on pursuit of happiness is the fact that one person’s happiness leads to the happiness of others. Most of our negative reactions and actions are triggered by the very fact of us being unhappy. And so when we’re happy – we act happy, we feel happy and we be happy hence we unconsciously act flexible and thoughtful with the people around us.I grasped two things: I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change.And so to begin with, Rubin mentions 21 Secrets of Adulthood, out of which 4 are the ones I could relate to: 1) It’s okay to ask for help 2) Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy 3) If you’re not failing, you’re not trying enough. 4) What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you – and vice versa.To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.Then comes her list of Twelve Commandments that serve to be a constant reminder in controlling one’s actions and reactions.Twelve Commandments:Be ‘Gretchen’.Let it go.Act the way I want to feel.Do it now.Be polite and be fair.Enjoy the process.Spend out.Identify the problem.Lighten up.Do what ought to be done.No calculation.There is only love.The days are long, but the years are short.And so follows the Resolution Chart that is a 12 month project with different resolutions each month pertaining to one aspect of life. As we go through the months, we realize that Rubin does a wonderful job by subtly reminding us all of the little things in life we may be neglecting, and to not turn our cheeks to particular situations that can facilitate us to grow as a person.You hit a goal, you keep a resolution.Throughout the book, Rubin mentions the formula of ‘act the way you want to feel’ which for some may seem implausible as convincing yourself to feel in a certain way might be more feasible than to pretend altogether.Heart of my happiness project remained my list of resolutions, which embodied the changes I wanted to make in my life. I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.Resolution Chart:January (Boost Energy)Identify the problem: Why don’t I ever hang up my coat.Answer: I don’t like fussing with hangersSolution: So use the hook on the inside of the door.Method – Go to sleep earlier: Exercise better: Toss, restore, organize: Tackle a nagging task: Act more energeticFebruary (Remember Love/Marriage)I wasn’t living up to my own standards of behavior, and then, because I felt guilty when I behaved badly, I behaved even worse.Method – Quit nagging: Don’t expect praise or appreciation: Fight right: No dumping: Give proofs of love.March (Aim Higher/Work)How lucky I was to be as eager for Monday mornings as I was for Friday afternoons.Method – Launch a blog: Enjoy the fun of failure: Ask for help: Work smart: Enjoy now.April (Lighten up/Parenthood)I wanted to stop my quick bursts of temper – I wanted to be more lightheartedMethod – Sing in the morning: Acknowledge the reality of people’s feeling: Be a treasure house of happy memories: Take time for projects.May (Be serious about play/ Leisure)I wanted to have more fun and I wanted to use my leisure to cultivate my creativity.Method – Find more fun: Take time to be silly: Go off the path: Start a collection.June (Make time for friends/ Friendship)I focused on my relationships by strengthening old friendships, deepening existing friendships and making new friends.Method – Remember birthdays: Be generous: Show up: Don’t gossip: Make three new friends.July (Buy some Happiness/ Money)Any kind of gain creates at least a momentary atmosphere of growth.Method – Indulge in a modest splurge: Buy needful things: Spend out: Give something up.August (Contemplate the Heavens/ Eternity)I had to find some way to steer my mind toward the transcendent and the timeless, away from the immediate and shallow.Method – Read memoirs of catastrophe: Keep a gratitude notebook: Imitate a spiritual master.September (Pursue a passion/ Books)Writers should recharge themselves with language-free occupations like listening to music, visiting museums, playing solitaire or taking long walks alone.Method – Write a novel: Make time: Forget about results: Master a new technology.October (Pay attention/ Mindfulness)I tend to dwell on anxieties or hopes for the future, instead of staying fully aware in the present moment.Method – Meditate on koans: Examine True Rules: Stimulate the mind in new ways: Keep a food diaryNovember (Keep a contented Heart/ Attitude)I wanted to stop being so critical, judgemental and finicky.Method – Laugh out loud: Use good manners: Give positive reviews: Find an area of refuge.December (Boot camp perfect/ Happiness)I would follow all of my resolutions, all the time.Method – Boot camp perfect.“I hope that reading the account of my happiness project will encourage you to start your own. Whenever you read this and wherever you are, you are in the right place to begin.”Rubin not only tells but also guides us through the stages required to make our own Happiness Project. Furthermore, to ensure that her readers are motivated enough to begin their own venture, Rubin ends the book with a Chapter “Your Happiness project” followed by a manifesto that fully guides its readers with a pathway of creating their very own Happiness Project! And now I know exactly what to do of a diary that I recently got as a gift – My Very Own Happiness Project!Published in Daily Times, December 9th 2018.