I'd heard a lot about Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, both the book and blog, but it lingered on the To Read list until her second book Happier at Home came out. Even then, it took me until I received Happer at Home as a review copy- though not for lack of interest in the subject matter (projects! research! sociology bent!). Much of my happiness comes from reading and there are so many books I want to read.
In the last month, I read both The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Consider me a convert. In Happiness Project, Rubin explores the theories of happiness and focuses on a different aspect each month. She creates resolutions tailored to her life and I learned a lot about myself in reading where her monthly goals took her. In Happier at Home, Rubin focuses on exactly that: happiness in the home.
In detailing her desire to be happier at home, Rubin also appreciates how much happiness is there already, from relationships to possessions. She also defines happiness leeches, a resonating concept. She shows how some of the things which make us happy require a little unhappiness in the process, such as completing menial tasks. I get this: I know I'm happier once I've cleaned my house but I hate cleaning.
I love Rubin's mix of research, memoir, experiment, and information. While there's much about her happiness projects that simply don't apply to me now (i.e. marriage or parenting-focused), I tucked many tidbits away for future reference. Rubin's story, as well as her commitment to telling readers the ups and downs of her resolutions, empowered me to see where I could seek happiness in my home. And she also enabled me to see areas needing improvement.
This is when my brain started whirring.
I consider my house to be a haven. When I'm home, I want it to be calm, serene, a place of peace. I also want it to inspire me and enable me to create, whether in the kitchen or at my laptop. Reading Happier at Home called to mind a few "someday" projects and things I'd never before considered, both of which could add to my happiness. I also identified a few loathesome tasks I procrastinate on or ignore, even though they'd make me happier if they were done.
I've come up with a list of projects, my own personal Happier at Home. While Rubin went off the school calendar year for her experiment, I'm not going to put a timetable on mine. For me, simply identifying a need is often a catalyst.
My To Do list:
- Buy dishes: this seems so simple and obvious but it's not! I bought a set of dishes at a garage sale for $5 before my junior year of college. They have big purple and yellow flowers on them, totally not me. But they were cheap and they've done the trick all these years. I thought I'd get new dishes if/when I marry but why am I waiting? I want new dishes now.
- Clean the stove and the oven: ew. But it needs to be done.
- Frame my pictures from Spain: I took tons of pictures of unique doors when I visited a friend in Spain 4 years ago. I wanted to mount a bronze key I bought in Segovia in the middle and put the door pictures around it. I know exactly where I want to put it in my house. I just haven't gotten around to doing it. Looking at the completed picture will make me infinitely happy and call to mind great memories of that trip. Time to do it.
- Simplify: time to take books and CDs I no longer want to McKay's.
- Get rid of detritus: like taking a bridesmaid dress (from the wedding I was in back in April) to the dry cleaner, condensing piles, clearing spaces, etc.
I'm sure I'll identify more in the coming weeks. This list energizes me.
The book inspired me. I've probably brought it up in most of the conversations I've had the past couple of weeks. (I'm sorry, friends. And: you're welcome.) I hope Rubin will keep writing about the subject of happiness. We could all stand to be more mindful of how we impact our own happiness and that of others. And the home is a great place to start.
Disclosure: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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