For parts I & II.
In September, Rubin decided to pursue a passion: Books. What a perfect topic for me! She took time to try and write a novel - taking a page (ha) from NaNoWriMo. She also vowed to make more time for reading, which made her rethink how much TV she watches. As fellow reader AND TV watcher, I liked that she understood that watching TV with your spouse can be a companion activity, even more so than just reading in the same room. This was shorter chapter because, as one would think, if you already enjoy doing something - here, reading - then it'll probably be pretty easy to do. I can't decide, but maybe she should've picked a different (more complex, challenging?) passion?
In October, she talks about mindfulness. This can be looked at any many ways, whether spiritually or just by paying more attention. But, it did make her look at those "rules" we all create for ourselves (Exercise! Eat right! My children come first!) and reevaluate and maybe rephrase them so they don't seem so overwhelming and impossible to meet every day. This month also made her try new things, such a hypnosis, dancing around the house and portrait drawing. While certain things made her feel more aware, others didn't. As with any passion or new thing we learn, Rubin did become a bit obsessed with happiness - and she realized she could sometimes bully people into taking on their own happiness. Here again she showed some true colors that she could've very easily kept to herself.
November was all about attitude. She wanted to "cultivate a light-hearted, loving and kind spirit." When I read this, I said to myself, 'Maybe this should've come earlier in the year?' It felt like the entire project really boils down to attitude. Maybe in January she should've focused on her attitude and worked on that all year long? Or, does it make more sense to wait until the end? Maybe our attitudes are so hard to change that she needed to warm up with all the other things? In any regard, I find attitude so important. I've found that the days I can "let it go," or just laugh at the annoying and feel happier just because - those are the good days, those are the days I can fall asleep much better at night.
The last month of the year was to practice everything. Rubin also reviewed the year and looked at how things had changed. Was she happier? If so, did her happiness rub off on the rest of the household? While her conclusions were fairly obvious, or just restated from portions of the previous chapters, I still found them rather enlightening.
I've had some discussion with friends about the purpose of this book. I know people who went into reading it expecting more of a "self-help" type of book: Tell me how to find happiness. It's not that. This is one woman telling you her story of a year trying to make herself happier. But the thing is, you don't have to look too deeply to find the lessons. You can very easily take what she learns and apply them to your own life (pay attention, clear clutter, pursue a passion...). Those that work, work. Those that don't, skip. So, in the end, I think Rubin, through memoir, does offer up some self-help - you just have to look for it.