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?


Goals for 2016


Now that the holidays are over, I actually have a moment to reflect on 2015, and how blessed I am. I am also taking this moment to think of all the things I want to accomplish in 2016 to make it the best year ever. I know that New Year’s Resolutions get a bad rap. Everyone wants to lose weight, exercise more, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, etc. etc. For many, they start the year with a good push toward these resolutions, and then by February the ambition/motivation fails. However, I am not that type of person. Sometimes I do set too many goals, but as long as I complete half of my goals, I feel that my life is on track. What is wrong with having goals in your life that help you live up to your potential?

2016 is going to be a year of uncertainty as there are many changes that may occur. My husband and I may decide to move based on job opportunities. We don’t at this time know if that will happen or if we decide to move, where we will be moving. With such an undetermined future, it is hard to make certain goals. For instance, I would like to run a marathon and volunteer more, but my time and location may not permit such achievements. I find it is important to set reasonable goals, so you don’t become disappointed in yourself.

Here is my list of reasonable goals for 2016:

  1. Read more non-fiction books. I tend to read a lot of classics, bestsellers, and mysteries. It would be nice to expand my reading list a bit. If you want to see my must-read book list, click here.
  2. Travel to Sicily. Since moving to Italy, so many people have told my husband and I that we have to explore Sicily.
  3. Renew my driver’s license. This is a ridiculous one, but when you are an expat, it is a bit more complicated than just going online and hitting a renew button.
  4. Continue studying Italian – even if I end up moving away from Italy.
  5. Go ice skating. This was a goal of mine a couple years ago that I failed to do. Can you believe that a girl who grew up in Wisconsin has still never been ice skating???
  6. Continue making a few extra dollars on Swagbucks. Every year I use the extra money to purchase birthday and Christmas gifts. More often than not I use the extra money to satisfy my book addiction. If you are interested in learning more about Swagbucks, click here.
  7. Vote. As we all have heard, no matter where you are in the world, the U.S. is having elections in 2016. Even though I am not currently living in the United States, I am still a U.S. citizen and want to exercise my right to vote. It is a privilege that many people in the United States take for granted, and one that I am very proud to have.
  8. Spend one day a month internet-free. I find myself constantly needing to go on the internet, whether I am at home on the computer or outside of my house on my phone. What did we all do before the internet? Anyway, I find that I am too reliant on it, and so I would like to take a break once a month from the addiction of Facebook, kitty & puppy videos, email, etc.
  9. Keep a Thankful Journal. In 2015, my spirit was sometimes pretty low. Every day this year I want to write down something that I am thankful for. That way, if my spirit gets low again, I can turn to my journal and read all the positive things in my life.

I think I can definitely accomplish these goals. It makes heading into the new year very exciting. Feel free to share with me some of your goals for 2016.

2016 is gonna rock!