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Happier at Home

By Gretchen Rubin

Author Gretchen Rubin provided her readers with the tools necessary to bring more joy into their lives with her previous offering, The Happiness Project. As a direct result of that year-long quest, Ms. Rubin realized that her home, in all its aspects, was the most crucial element influencing her happiness.

So she took on yet another project and dedicated a school year, from September through May, to concentrate on what matters at home: possessions, marriage, time, parenthood, body and neighborhood. Her book, Happier At Home, is the result.

In Happier At Home, each month has a theme and finds her experimenting with several manageable resolutions designed to boost her happiness. Rubin examines the complexity of home life to determine how to enhance it, to feel more "at home, at home," as she puts it.

“I took my circumstances for granted,” she writes. “I wanted to appreciate my life more, and to live up to it better.” Rubin began her learning project just as her children were going back to school. She first took account of her possessions and the relationship she had to them and discovered that her material happiness came from wanting what she had rather than making efforts to have more or less.

Rubin reached similar conclusions about other concepts in the months that followed. Marriage, family and parenthood took work, and time management was as essential as determining how to most meaningfully use it. Taking care of herself and feeling good were important because her behavior influenced the happiness of those around her, and staying mindful of the present was the key to appreciating just “how fleeting and how precious” her seemingly ordinary days actually were.

Not feeling quite as driven as Rubin? She says that’s not a problem. Often, the solutions for a happier life are simple ones, resulting from a few moments of thought and follow-through. "They don't really take extra time," she says. "There's a mindfulness component, and most of these things are very reinforcing."

One example she shares is that each time her kids interrupted her while she was working in her home office, she would snap at them. This response filled her with enormous regret. She considered the cycle and realized that if they simply knocked first, she'd feel less disturbed. Her kids began knocking and the problem was solved.

What else? Rubin created a family practice of giving "warm greetings and farewells" upon leaving and coming back home, and was elated to see that her family actually embraced this practice.

Rubin is determined that each of us will benefit by recognizing the beauty in our day-to-day home lives by making sure we take a moment to relish it and savor what makes each of our homes (and families) special.

Learn more at the author's website.