Book Review: Outer Order Inner Calm

Outer Order Inner Calm
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Nonfiction Self-Help
Publisher: Harmony
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Pages: 208
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library
Date finished reading: April 8, 2019

Goodreads Description: Bestselling author of The Four Tendencies and The Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin illuminates one of her key realizations about happiness: For most of us, outer order contributes to inner calm. In a new book packed with more than one hundred concrete ideas, she helps us create the order and organization that can make our lives happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.

In the context of a happy life, a messy desk or crowded coat closet is a trivial problem–yet Gretchen Rubin has found that getting control of the stuff of life makes us feel more in control of our lives generally. By getting rid of things we don’t use, don’t need, or don’t love, as well as things that don’t work, don’t fit, or don’t suit, we free our mind (and our shelves) for what we truly value.

In this trim book filled with insights, strategies, and sometimes surprising tips, Gretchen tackles the key challenges of creating outer order, by explaining how to “Make Choices,” “Create Order,” “Know Yourself–and Others,” “Cultivate Helpful Habits,” and, of course, “Add Beauty.”

When we get our possessions under control, we feel both calmer and more energetic. With a sense of humor, and also a clear sense of what’s realistic for most people, Gretchen suggests dozens of manageable steps for creating a more serene, orderly environment–one that helps us to create the lives we yearn for.

My Review: I am a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project books, and Outer Order Inner Calm is a continuation of this with a lot of daily tips on how to create order in your home, work and life that will lead to happiness.

One of the first tips that she gives the reader is to take a look at every room in your home. Really analyze that space and make sure it brings happiness. I was blessed with my first real home just a couple of years ago. It is a constant work in progress, but as I did my walk through the rooms of my house, even rooms that I thought were completely finished still had a few things that could be done to make the space even lovelier. As an avid list taker, I’ve been making notes of projects, big and small, that I want to complete throughout my home. For the smaller projects I will definitely start utilizing Rubin’s 1-minute rule and the power hour. After one of the episodes on Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast, I actually started doing a power half hour most every day for the last few weeks to help me go through a room of boxes that have been ignored for the last two years – I termed this room the Room of Doom. By putting aside 30 minutes a day, I was not only able to completely go through every box (which added up to more than 60 boxes), but I did it all in time to participate in the community garage sale, which helped minimize my donation boxes from 11 to 5. We were even able to pass on bigger items that no longer added any benefit to our lives. My husband also helped out too, as he wanted to let go of things and clear some space in our house as well. It has been a week since we finished going through the last box in the Room of Doom, and we still are amazed at all the space we have now. We have given ourselves a whole other room in the house. Tips, like the power hour, can really help one move toward a less cluttered and calmer house.

As we went through our belongings, Rubin’s three big questions were far more helpful, in my opinion, than Marie Kondo’s “does it bring you joy.” For the record, I do utilize the KonMari method as well, but there are lot of things that I need but don’t necessarily bring me joy (aka years of tax forms). Rubin wants us to ask ourselves three questions: “Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it?” (p. 8). I was definitely surprised how many times both my husband and I answered “no” to those questions. It was a bit liberating and helped us feel zero guilt about getting rid of some of the items.

One thing I really like about Gretchen Rubin’s work is that she often quotes other writers or recommends other resources that might dive further into a specific topic more than she does. I always find this incredibly helpful.

Besides all the amazing tips throughout this book, she sums up a Top Ten list at the end for creating outer order. I borrowed this book from the library, but this might just be one of those books that I have to have on my shelf as a guide I can consult when I need to. I definitely recommend this one!

Outer order isn’t a matter of having less or having more; it’s a matter of wanting what we have.” (p. 19)

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦


Book Review: Happier At Home

Rubi_9780307886781_jkt_all_r11.inddTitle: Happier at Home
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Nonfiction/Self-Help
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Pages: 320
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Book 2 of The Happiness Project series
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: March 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: In the spirit of her blockbuster #1 New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin embarks on a new project to make home a happier place.

One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick—why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. “Of all the elements of a happy life,” she thought, “my home is the most important.” In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.

And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.

So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year—September through May—to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.

In The Happiness Project, she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family’s treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.

Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions—and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.

With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin’s passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.

My Review: It would be an understatement to say that I enjoy making resolutions. I look forward to setting goals for myself in the New Year. I even use a bullet journal to list monthly tasks to help me achieve my overall yearly goals. Gretchen Rubin is one of those authors who does not criticize resolution making. I appreciate that making resolutions is not for everyone. I know plenty of people who actually get stressed out by resolutions and give up on them immediately. However, I am one of those individuals that looks at resolutions as setting goals for living the best life that I can live. I see them as achievable dreams, probably because I am an upholder like Gretchen Rubin (see The Four Tendancies). Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home is about setting resolutions to fill your home life with happiness. This is a continuation of her The Happiness Project.

She gives some interesting out-of-the-box suggestions of ways that we can improve our home life, like creating memory boxes, indulging in your sense of smell, nurturing your relationships with family, exploring your own city and many more. I appreciate that she came up with these ideas, lived by them and shared her experiences with us – the good and the bad. I will say that while I have no intention of imposing some of those ideas on my own life – I am not one for indulging in scents and can see my husband not caring for that either – I did learn a few tips even in regards to some of her ideas that I have already implemented.

There were a couple points that I really gravitated to. The first point was that we should not try to impose our resolutions on others. As you can tell from this blog, my husband and I love traveling. Occasionally my yearly resolutions may include travel destinations I want to explore that year and assume my husband will come with me. Over the years, I have learned that his time investment may not be the same as mine, so I can’t just expect him to go along with it just because it is part of my resolution list. I suggest if you want to incorporate someone else into your resolutions, you should discuss that with them. At the beginning of each year, I propose to him travel, house projects, suggestions that could lead to relationship growth, and anything else that may involve a time investment on my husband’s part and allow him to decline or add to the list. This way, we are on the same page. The second thing that I appreciated Gretchen Rubin stressing is the living in the moment. While I may not want to embrace smells per se, I can take time to embrace the home and life I share with my spouse.

Overall, I would recommend this book and other Gretchen Rubin books for those looking to add more happiness in their lives.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Do you make resolutions? If so, what are some resolutions that you have made in the past that are beyond the norm (norm = lose weight, quit smoking, drink more water etc.)? What do you think will help you attain a happier life at home?