This is probably one of the hardest styles of writing to pull off.
It is a good example of why I don’t generally like books written by professional writers.
These writers choose to write before they know what to write about. Like an artist not knowing what to paint, you can dabble on the canvas every day for a year and you will end up with a painting. Gretchen can write a bit every day and come up with a book. This is entirely different from having an idea or concept THEN committing it to paper or canvas.
The book ends up being more about the journey of writing the book than the subject itself.
Some professional writers are extremely talented, they can explore an idea from scratch, connect some dots and make some conclusions. If Malcom Gladwell or Steven Johnson took on this “happiness project”, it would probably be worth reading. Picasso could “wing” a painting, most artists can not.
In any case, it is very hard to sympathize with Gretchen. The book is admittedly self-indulgent, which is fine, but there is no redeeming wisdom offered in exchange for all the unnecessary personal details.
If you are a married, upper middle class, middle aged, career woman with kids, you might find value in the exercises or tidbits Gretchen writes about. I found it all way too far away from my experience to be useful in my life.
Gretchen mentions a lot of other books on happiness she has read. I have read several of them as well, and I don’t see how any of that made its way into Gretchen’s protocol or her recommendations.
This is the least useful book I have read on happiness or success or satisfaction. It is not useless, but it was not useful to me, and was far too long to contain so little substance.