Book Review: The Little Book of Lykke

34879265Title: The Little Book of Lykke
Author: Meik Wiking
Genre: Nonfiction, Life-style
Publisher: Penguin Life
Publication Date: September 7, 2017
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: June 1, 2019

Goodreads Description: Lykke (Luu-kah) (n): Happiness

It’s easy to see why Denmark is often called the world’s happiest country. Not only do they have equal parental leave for men and women, free higher education and trains that run on time, but they burn more candles per household than anywhere else.

So nobody knows more about happiness – what the Danes call lykke – than Meik WikingCEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the bestselling sensation The Little Book of Hygge . But he believes that, whilst we can certainly learn a lot from the Danes about finding fulfilment, the keys to happiness are actually buried all around the globe.

In this captivating book, he takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to inner fulfilment. From how we spend our precious time, to how we relate to our neighbours and cook dinner, he gathers evidence, stories and tips from the very happiest corners of the planet. This is the ultimate guide to how we can all find a little more lykke in our lives.

My Review: I really enjoyed Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge. It was an interesting take on finding little things to make you happy, like the feeling of being cozy, wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire. There are many studies that point to the Nordic countries, including Denmark, as being the happiest places on earth. In The Little Book of Lykke, the author discussed bigger issues of happiness, ones that are more societal.  Here are some examples:

  • Higher Taxes – that doesn’t seem like a thing that would bring happiness (especially for most Americans), however, in other places in the world higher taxes mean education and health expenses are paid for, so it lends a level of financial security.
  • Meals with family and friends
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Less time with technology and on social media
  • Spending money on experiences/memories not things
  • Bike and/or enjoy the outdoors
  • A work and life balance
  • Inspire collaboration and cooperation not competition
  • Do random acts of kindness
  • Write down things that you are grateful for

I enjoyed learning about the co-habitating housing in Copenhagen. This type of housing is a building with multiple apartments. However, the people in these apartments get together for joined meals. This builds a stronger community.

So much of this book reminded me of all the things I loved about my years of living in Italy. This book actually mentioned Italy as an example of a place that focuses on families first. I loved how so many dinners were times I got to spend conversing with my husband and friends instead of just meals to be consumed while binging Netflix. Families spent meals together, including leaving work during the day to have lunch at home. I always felt that there was a good balance of work and life there – a need to work to live not live to work. I also used to bike, run and walk everywhere. If I got sick, I went in to see my doctor. I didn’t have to make an appointment, fill out paperwork, or worry about having insurance or a co-pay.

It is amazing how one adapts to the society that they exist in. Now that I live in Houston, I drive everywhere instead of biking or walking. I spend a good amount of my day in the car. My work day with commuting time ranges from 11-14 hours. This leaves very little time for family, friends, or myself. Also, everyone seems glued to their phones here, even when they are driving. Workers get excited if they are fortunate enough to have two weeks of paid vacation. Don’t even get me started on healthcare, and the struggle I have had just to find a doctor that is in my insurance plan.

I felt this book was helpful in understanding how society can actually control one’s happiness, but also helped me realize more little things I can do to bring moments of happiness into my life.

The biggest, and maybe the only, issue I have with Meik Wiking’s books about happiness is the concept that being social leads to happiness. This is part of what makes co-housing (mentioned above) so appealing. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized more and more that I am very much an introvert. Social gatherings actually cause me stress and anxiety, unless it is small groups of friends or family. I have had jobs where I need to constantly collaborate with others, but I actually enjoy my current job much more, where I spend most of my time alone crunching numbers. Happiness may not always come from social experiences.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

What things do you do that add happiness to your life? What would you change if you could?

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Book Review: Organized Simplicity

8109713Title: Organized Simplicity
Author: Tsh Oxenreider
Genre: Self-Help
Publisher: Betterway Home
Publication Date: November 21, 2010
Pages: 256
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library
Date finished reading: May 5, 2019

Goodreads Description: Remove the Mess, Add Meaning

Simplicity isn’t about what you give up. It’s about what you gain. When you remove the things that don’t matter to you, you are free to focus on only the things that are meaningful to you. Imagine your home, your time, your finances, and your belongings all filling you with positive energy and helping you achieve your dreams. It can happen, and Organized Simplicity can show you how.

Inside you’ll find:

A simple, ten-day plan that shows you step-by-step how to organize every room in your home Ideas for creating a family purpose statement to help you identify what to keep and what to remove from your life Templates for a home management notebook to help you effectively and efficiently take care of daily, weekly and monthly tasks Recipes for non-toxic household cleaners and natural toiletry items including toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo Start living a more organized, intentional life today.

My Review: Since purchasing my very first home two years ago, I have been a little obsessed with trying to find the best resource for helping me achieve organization in my home. Like many people I work an intense full time job, so when I come home at the end of a work-day, the last thing I want to do is housework. Then I spend my precious weekend hours doing housework instead of spending time with friends and family or relaxing.

In the age of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was happy to find Tsh Oxenreider’s book at the library. I believe Organized Simplicity states many of the same techniques/methods but is much more useful than Kondo’s book. Tsh Oxenreider focuses on all aspects of organization including time, resources, emotions, finances, and more. Here are some steps I plan to take with the guidance of this book to create a loving and more organized home life:

  1. Create a personal statement. This statement should represent what you/your family want to get out of life. This statement should be simple, timeless & general but not too general.
  2. Create short & long-term goals. These goals should directly help you achieve & live by your personal statement.
  3. Create a budget. This will help your financial well-being. It will be a stepping stone to becoming debt-free or save for the future (ex: travel, house improvements, emergencies, retirement).
  4. Be more ecological. This means that you need to be more mindful of what you have. Make sure the things that you have are things that are useful to you (including emotionally). Things that are not useful to you may be useful to others, so you can sell those items or donate. This mindset will help you prevent waste in your home.
  5. Clean and clear in steps. House cleaning does not have to be done in one day. Set a cleaning schedule that helps you not have to spend every day of your life cleaning your home. Focus on cleaning the rooms more often that are used more frequently. Use the tips mentioned in Organized Simplicity to find the best cleaning and organizational supplies that will help you with this and prevent you from having to clean and clear all the time. This book provides you with a 10-day plan to a cleaner and more organized house. This plan is good to replicate either once a month, once a season, or however often you can based on your own time constraints.
  6. Enjoy your life and home more. After following the above steps, I hope to:
    • Be less overwhelmed when I walk into my house after a long day of work
    • Have more time to spend with family and friends
    • Be overall less stressed and healthier

There were so many great resources (blogs, websites, tools, etc.) within Tsh Oxenreider’s book as well, and the appendixes give examples of to help with creating a budget, time management, etc. I am definitely happy I read this and even excited to get started toward working on a more organized, simpler and happy life.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Book Review: The Power of Habit

9781400069286_custom-401a0d258f36abc0afccb673d3bab1de7926e20e-s6-c30Title: The Power of Habit
Author: Charles Duhigg
Genre: Nonfiction Self-Help/Business/Psychology
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Pages: 375 pages
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: April 17, 2019

Goodreads Description: A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.

An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.

What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.

They succeeded by transforming habits.

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

My Review: I chose this audiobook from the library, because it was a recommended read in some of the time management books I’ve been reading lately. Perhaps, if I would have read the Goodreads description, I may have thought twice before reading this. I really thought it would be equal parts scientific research and the actual building of habits, but it is about 98% about the scientific research and those examples really dragged on and on. Even though I understand the reason for discussing the role habits play in businesses and social movements, I just found that I didn’t really care. I couldn’t relate my every day life to these studies. I thought this would be about the importance of habit-building AND a how-to guide. I was wrong. Although, to be fair, he did give some helpful everyday pointers at the very end of the book in the Appendix. I just didn’t care about everything that came before. I don’t care what Febreze or Starbucks does. Also, did the author have to include such horrifically graphic details during the hospital section and the underground fire story? I don’t feel that discussing the drilling into a guy’s head or burning flesh adds anything to this book.

That actually leads me to the most disappointing part of this read for me, which was that I stopped understanding what the point of the book was. If it was just to point out that everyone has habits in work and life, then well done. Because the author gives examples of both positive and negative habits, I found that I was confused on whether habit-building is a positive thing to do or a negative thing to do. I constantly thought about just not finishing the book, but I kept hoping that there would be something useful to me or interesting, but there really wasn’t. Despite the high ratings this book has, I was not a fan.

My Rating: ♦ ♦

Book Review: Outer Order Inner Calm

outer-order-inner-calm
Title: 
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: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

WWW Wednesdays – March 27, 2019

www

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I did not have the best reading week. I keep getting distracted with household projects (trying to prepare my house to participate in the community yard sale in a week and a half), but I started my Spring Reading List and am continuing my David McCullough reads. (See my 2019 A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I will soon be starting my Margaret Atwood month! Here’s hoping that this weekend’s #8intwo Readathon will help me catch up a little and get a good start on the beast I have to finish for next week’s book club.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book to see my full review.*

Reading Next

Anyone else participating in the #8intwo Readathon this weekend? What are y’all reading now? Please post your WWW links below in the comments if I haven’t already visited them.

HAPPY READING!

 

Book Review: Off The Clock

OffTheClock_JKFOption-2-212x300Title: Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done
Author: Laura Vanderkam
Genre: Nonfiction/Self-Help
Publisher: Portfolio
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Pages: 256
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: March 24, 2019

Goodreads Description: Learn to savor life’s best moments–no matter how busy you are–through mindset shifts that alter your perception of time.

Laura Vanderkam, the acclaimed author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, isn’t like other time-management gurus. She’s not trying to shave off 30 seconds here or there; she’s interested in the emotional and psychological side of the 168 hours everyone has each week. Her core message is that you have more time than you think you do, and you can feel less stressed while getting more done.

With the right habits, you can live efficiently and effectively, and yet still see time as abundant. For instance, Vanderkam teaches:

– How to clear your calendar of activities that are boring, stressful — or just not the best use of your time.

– Why tackling your top priorities during the hours when you have the most energy will change your perception of what it means to be productive.

– How to linger in great experiences while they’re happening, and why good memories seem to make time expand.

Vanderkam has packed this book with insights from busy yet relaxed professionals, including “time makeovers” of people who are learning how to use these tools. Off the Clock can inspire the rest of us to create lives that are not only productive, but enjoyable in the moment.

My Review: Last year I read Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. I really thought that was insightful. I never thought about tracking my time to analyze how I utilize my time. I actually thought that project would be a waste of time. However, I was desperate to find more time in my days, so I gave it a shot. It actually did help me realize how much time I sometimes waste in a day that could be spent doing other things that need to be done or I would like to do. (Example: I can’t stop myself from binging multiple episodes of a show on Netflix, when I really should just watch one and move on to another task.)

Off the Clock is more of a continuation of 168 Hours. Instead of it being a guide to time management, it is more of a guide to living a more enjoyable life.

Here are some of my takeaways:

  • Time is not something you should fear.
  • Tracking your time can help with you make time manageable.
  • Be accountable for your time.
  • Build habits.
  • It is what you say “no” to as much as what you say “yes” to.
  • Adventures make life memorable and memories stretch time.
  • Linger in the moment.
  • Savor moments in time.

I guess I was hoping for more examples of how to free up more time in my daily routine for things like all my many household projects. As of now, I am not in a position to cut down my work hours, as I am still new at my job. I have a nine-hour work day with approximately 1 1/2 hours of commute time daily Monday thru Friday. When I get home, it is hard to get motivated to clean my house, do laundry, pay bills, and organize, when I just want to sit and relax. (I am sure that many of you can relate to that.) I think I just keep looking for suggestions on how to overcome this challenge. I did not feel that this book helped me with that. However, I do appreciate that Laura Vanderkam makes suggestions throughout Off the Clock of other resources that I can look at that may help me with some of my time management issues.

Overall, this is a decent book (though I didn’t love it) and a quick read.

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?