June 13, 2013

"Happier at Home"

Gretchen Rubin makes me want to live in New York City.  While the city is a nice place to visit, I've never felt the desire to stay for more than a day or two.  Her descriptive writing, though, almost has me sold.  (I don't think I could ever get Scott to even visit NYC.)

My takeaway from the book:

1.  Setting up shrines.  Your house is supposed to reflect things you love.  There's no shame in showcasing that.  Like Gretchen, I set up a shrine of books.  I was having trouble deciding which books to display because I don't like clutter.  Out of my collection, I picked out my favorite children's literature, and then added in the adult books I cannot do without.

If you haven't read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, you need to get on that.

1/4 of my Dear America collection.  These are my favorites.

2.  "Just because something's fun for someone else doesn't mean it's fun for me".  When I read this Secret of Adulthood in The Happiness Project back in January, I was floored.  THIS was what I'd been looking for:  permission to be me.  I spent so much time struggling to fit in while we were in Alaska.  I learned that if I want to bake cookies and read books on a Friday night, it's okay.  If I prefer some Weeds re-runs to going out to a crowded movie theater, so be it.  And, most importantly, if I choose not to go camping in the cold rain, it does not make me a societal outcast.  It makes me ME.  And that's okay.

3.  Make your bed.  I've never been the person to make my bed, unless there's a reason (i.e. company coming over).  However, I've taken this task on each morning since we've been here.  It does make me happier.  It gives me a more organized start to the day and, really now, it takes 60 seconds.
Now if I could just apply this to "clean up kitchen at night"...

4.  Set aside 15 minutes to "suffer".  I don't really have a cleaning schedule, but I try to clean something everyday (laundry, floors, bathrooms).  When I do force myself to clean, I set a timer.  15 minutes of solid work and you'd be surprised how much gets done.  You should try it if you're a multi-tasker.  I often try to do so many things at once and none of them get completely finished.  When I'm disciplined enough to use this technique, it works.

5.  Moderation vs. rules.  I'm not good at moderation.  In the book, Gretchen mentions setting rules for herself, like not eating crackers and not eating at children's parties.  Those are good rules to follow in my opinion.  For example, I rarely ate anything my students brought in to share because it wasn't for ME, it was for the kids.  I like to choose when I eat cupcakes.  Also, I can't buy cereal.  I'll eat the entire box in 18 hours.  It's an exhausting cycle and one I don't care to get caught up in, so I'm one who sets some rules for myself.  Because I'm really bad at moderation.  I eat sweets, drink caffeine, and eat bread everyday.  But I don't buy cereal.  For me, it's about choice, not moderation.

6.  My love for this book was solidified when she ended it with an ode to Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To quote:  "Laura Ingalls Wilder is the best writer about home!"  To anyone who's ever enjoyed a Little House book, that's the absolute truth.  The Ingalls family made a comfortable, cozy, meaningful home anywhere.  In a sod dugout, in a cabin, in a shanty, in a hotel they helped to run, in an uninsulated store building and, later, an insulated one, in the Surveyors' house (a "rental").  It didn't matter where they were; if they were together, if they had their china shepherdess and kitchen table with the red-checked cloth, then they were home.

Did you read Happier at Home? I was really glad that it gave me immediate and relevant ideas, not just "Oh, I should think about that..." ideas.

(I borrowed this book from the library and all of the opinions are my own. I just really liked it and wanted to spread the word.)


  1. It is amazing how much happier I am when I make the bed as well! It makes the room always feel cleaner.

  2. This sounds like a great book. I'll need to look for it.

  3. It is kind of insane, but making the bed really does make a difference. I think it's something quick and easy that you can do to make you feel like you've cleaned or organized something for the day. Plus, it makes me feel so much better to get back IN bed at night because all of the covers are evenly distributed and not all on Scott's side of the bed. ;)

    Also, I really like that 15 minute cleaning idea. That might make me feel better. I am so bad at cleaning because I despise it so much.

  4. Wow maybe I will pick this up! I live in New York City - was she inspired to write this by how tiny our living spaces are? haha Really they are small..but you should still come visit :)

  5. I always made my bed till I got married--now I'm always the first one up (and showered and dressed before Angel wakes) So now it's never made. Sometimes I do feel bad about that because of the whole childhood lesson of "make your bed!"

    I'm really big on setting a time for chores. You really can get a lot done in a short time. When Angel's working, I usually plan to start cooking dinner and doing housework at 7 or 7:30, and then I just turn up the radio and work like crazy until he gets home--and ta-da! I got a lot of chores done that day!

  6. I should probably read this posthaste. First I'm reading a book called Willpower by Roy Baumeister and then I'll move on to that. Gives me something to do while CJ is on swing shift. And I am a religious bedmaker, so swing shift is bumming me out in more ways than one since CJ is sleeping in.

  7. I loved her happiness project book, I really want to read this one too, especially since I'll be setting up my first home with my fiance in a few weeks.

    And I agree with her permission to be yourself. What's happy for one isn't happy for the other and that's totally okay!

  8. Wow I really liked this post! I think I'll start making my bed every day and setting a timer and cleaning for a solid 15 minutes. That's a really good idea :)

  9. I just started reading 'The Happiness Project' and this book sounds so good!!! I love the idea of showcasing your 'shrines'! Thanks for telling me about this book. By the way, welcome back to the lower 48! :)

  10. I really want to read this book!! It's going on my list.

    And the Charlotte Doyle book was one of my favorites growing up.


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