Book Review: Love Big

LoveBig_CoverFinal_3bTitle: Love Big
Author: Rozella Haydee White
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Publisher: Fortress Press
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Pages: 178
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: From a friend of the author
Date finished reading: October 14, 2019

Goodreads Description: In the words of Mother Teresa, “We have forgotten that we belong to each other.” This lapse in memory has caused deep fractures and allowed fear, hatred, and division to infect our lives together. We’ve become disconnected from each other and from our very selves.

In Love Big, leadership coach Rozella Hayd’e White introduces readers to the power of revolutionary relationships. Modeled after the image of God as a lover, these relationships can heal the brokenness of our lives by crossing over the dividing lines of race, gender, religion, orientation, ability, identity, and class to provide relief and inspiration.

Revolutionary relationships will usher us into a reality marked by love, connection, and a belief in abundance.

Revolutionary relationships lead us to love big–to love despite hardships and fear; to love in the face of despair; to love ourselves and others deeply and passionately; to love in ways that change us all.

My Review: I received a copy of this book from a friend of the author. I always enjoy reading local authors’ works. Some readers might be turned off by the religious foundation of this book, but this book is more about relationships, love and faith. You don’t have to share the same religious beliefs as the author to appreciate her ideals and her guidance. If you are doing a self-evaluation and wanting to love a bit bigger and better, this is a great book for you.

“To love big is to have faith, even when you don’t understand how faith works and especially when you don’t believe that faith even matters.”

If you currently feel or have felt the following, this book is a great guide to possible ways to change your life. “Fear and hatred lead to an inevitable conclusion: that there isn’t enough. Enough time. Enough resources. Enough jobs. Enough money. Enough joy. Enough love.” Here are some key points that I took from this book:

  • You can’t truly love others unless you love yourself. This is hard for many people. This may involve a healing process from some tragic event in your life. This may involve having a better self-image, including being happy with your abilities and your body. “Restoring my soul is probably the hardest work I’ve ever done because it requires me to be excruciatingly honest with myself and to listen deeply and well.”
  • Discover your own dreams, desires, and who you are. It is important for us take time to acknowledge our likes and dislikes; to think about our strengths and weaknesses; and even establish goals or wishes for the future – what you want to get out of life. “The goal is to name your hopes, values, and dreams, claim the ways that you want to show up in the world, and have a partner that helps you do the good and hard work of staying focused on the fact that what you say matters most.”
  • Live the life you want to live. When you love yourself, you want you to be happy. If a relationship or job or responsibility is not making you happy, it may be time to reevaluate and/or make a change.
  • Live outside your own bubble. “The bubbles that we live in keep us separate from one another. This leads to an isolation so deep that we don’t even recognize how disconnected we truly are.” It is a growing experience to not only engage with your community and the people/issues within your community, but also open yourself up to know more about the world. Don’t be afraid to explore the world and other cultures. “There’s something to be said for waking up, for the moments in our life when we realize we have been asleep. … And we all have a choice, either to hit the snooze button or to wake up.”
  • Show love. Showing love may be trying to understand or relate to others, empathizing with someone else or a situation. Sometimes love can be showing some gratitude and mercy. (I just finished a great book by Bryan Stevenson called Just Mercy.)
  • Establish revolutionary relationships. The author describes the steps and qualities of revolutionary relationships. See below. You love yourself and are ready to love others. These relationships are established to not only help you love but strengthen you as a person and help you achieve the goals and desires you have for the future. “Revolutionary relationships lead me to action. I must nurture these relationships and the people I love. I can’t be selfish because these relationships continually pull me out of myself and into the world.”

Revolutionary Relationships Defined:
1. God in Relationship with God
2. Lessons from Trinity
3. Covenant, Not Commitment
4. Life-giving
5. Risk-taking
6. Vulnerable
7. Forgiveness
8. Gracious
9. Diverse
10. The Foundation – “Revolutionary relationships create the foundation for building lives of meaning, joy, connection, and love.”

I personally have spent a lot of time digging deep within myself to understand myself more and appreciate the person I am. I enjoyed learning about the author’s idea of revolutionary relationships – relationships that will help you grow not hold you back. I think the hardest part with this idea is how family fits in. There is that common phrase “I may have to love you but I don’t have to like you.” I have found that I can choose my friendships, but I can’t choose my family. The author shared some of her difficult family relationships, but every family is different. I just wonder what is the best way to handle difficult family relationships. If anyone has any input on this or reading materials they would recommend, please share in the comment section below. In the meantime, I hope to do better at loving big!

“We love big when we fall in love with ourselves, rouse our minds, reform our bodies, and restore our hearts. We love big when we engage in revolutionary relationships and seek holistic healing, as individuals and as a community.”

“When we are healed, we create new, life-giving realities; liberate ourselves and others from systems, ideologies, and structures that are oppressive; and sustain one another to live lives of peace marked by justice. This is how we love big, and this leads us to love despite differences, to love in the face of hardships and despair, to love ourselves and others deeply and passionately, to love in ways that change us all.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

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Book Review: The Home Edit

homeeditTitle: The Home Edit
Author: Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: Clarkson Potter Publishers
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Pages: 256
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: There’s decorating, and then there’s organizing. From the Instagram-sensation home experts (with a serious fan club that includes Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mindy Kaling), here is an accessible, room-by-room guide to establishing new order in your home.

Believe this: every single space in your house has the potential to function efficiently and look great. The mishmash of summer and winter clothes in the closet? Yep. Even the dreaded junk drawer? Consider it done. And the best news: it’s not hard to do–in fact, it’s a lot of fun.

From the home organizers who made their orderly eye candy themethod that everyone swears by comes Joanna and Clea’s signature approach to decluttering. The Home Edit walks you through paring down your belongings in every room, arranging them in a stunning and easy-to-find way (hello, labels!), and maintaining the system so you don’t need another do-over in six months. When you’re done, you’ll not only know exactly where to find things, but you’ll also love the way it looks.

A masterclass and look book in one, The Home Edit is filled with bright photographs and detailed tips, from placing plastic dishware in a drawer where little hands can reach to categorizing pantry items by color (there’s nothing like a little ROYGBIV to soothe the soul). Above all, it’s like having your best friends at your side to help you turn the chaos into calm.

My Review: The authors of The Home Edit have their own home organization business. They have a good collaboration, as one focuses on practical use and one focuses on aesthetically pleasing. Both ideas are difficult for me to grasp when I am organizing my house, so I was more than ready to hear some functional organizing tips that also look good.

They start off with the practical:

  1. Don’t keep things you are not going to use.
  2. Don’t buy more items than you have space for, so understand your space restrictions. If you are bringing things into the house, make sure you are taking things out of the house. (This bit of advice was particularly helpful to me. I tend to buy and stock up on household items when they are on sale and then have no idea where to put them when I get home.)
  3. Don’t try to tackle too much at one time. Start with one drawer.
  4. Everything should have a place.

Then they go into the functional but also looks great part of organizing. This tends to be the part that most people enjoy. Not many people like to go through their belongs and toss things and then try to decide where to put the items they are keeping. However, labeling and shopping for storage containers, etc. seem to bring more joy to the task. Personally, I am not sure I like any part of organizing, but when your life is crazy busy, being organized and knowing where your belongings are should be one less thing you need to stress about.

Here are some ways to get started on this part of organizing:

  1. Once you know everything that you have, design a system that is functional and looks good.
  2. Invest in shoe box containers (not the cardboard ones your shoe purchases come in).
  3. Having see-through containers means that you don’t necessarily need to label.
  4. Invest in over-the-door hanging organizers.
  5. Get in the habit of putting everything in its designated place, but also be prepared that things may not stay perfect.

While this was an enjoyable read, I found the authors need to constantly name drop a bit of a turnoff. In the Introduction, the reader becomes aware that the authors have done organization projects for many celebrities. I think it is a negative toward their home organizing points by using their projects for celebrities as everyday examples, because the average reader of this book is looking at organizing stuff into a much smaller space and with a much smaller budget. I didn’t feel like this book catered that much to someone on a tight budget. I went into the Container Store once, so I could get some organizing supplies and was totally shocked by how expensive many of the containers and organizers were. I am looking for much more affordable options, and didn’t feel that they really helped me understand where to get things that were affordable. However, I am aware that I listened to this audiobook through my library and apparently there is a downloadable pdf that is normally included with this audiobook that I did not receive.

I would normally have given this book more like a 3 out of 5 stars. However, while I found that much of the book wasn’t as helpful as I would have liked, the authors were humorous and personable and made this book a much more enjoyable read than most home organizing books tend to be, so it has earned my 4 out of 5 stars. The following passage really made me laugh hard:

“Top 5 ways to keep your entry looking picture-perfect at all times:

  1. Live alone.
  2. Make sure your kids use a separate entrance. 
  3. Don’t own things.
  4. Change your mailing address to your neighbors and pick up your mail once a week.
  5. Start going places without shoes or jackets, so there is nothing to take off when you walk in the door.”

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Review: Happiness Hacks

9781615194421Title: Happiness Hacks: 100% Scientific! Curiously Effective!
Author: Alex Palmer
Genre: Self-help
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Pages: 176
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: August 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: Could you be happier at work . . . in love . . . in life? You may not need a total overhaul—just a few good Happiness Hacks! Here are hundreds of shortcuts to brighten your day and boost your mood—and the science behind how they work. Discover why . . .
57°F (13.9°C) is the happiest temperature
Selfies give you a jolt of joy
Renters have a surprising edge over homeowners
17-minute breaks are the most productive
Intimacy is better than sex
It’s more satisfying to work a full 40-hour week
Date night is the key to a happy marriage
Just 10 minutes of exercise can cheer you up!
Whether you’re seeking better health, stronger friendships, or that elusive “happy place,” these stunningly simple tips are proven to help. You can hack your way to happiness!

My Review: I’m currently going through that little funk you experience when you get back from an amazing vacation and have to go back to real life. I thought reading a book about grabbing some happiness in your every day life would help me move passed this funk. For the most part, this book is states a lot of the same key points you learn reading other happiness-related books – exercise more, drink more water, volunteer, go outside more (clearly the author doesn’t live in the hot hell that is Texas), take breaks from technology, and watch less television. This book does give you a bit more as far as everyday tasks that can help on your way to living a happier life and provides the scientific research to back up these ideas.

This book talks about the ways to be happier at work, at home, in relationship, and with yourself. It dives into the topics of technology, health and finances. I really don’t feel that this book left out any component. I think it covered all the happiness highlights, which is why I think it felt a bit more repetitious to me.

I did appreciate a few happiness hacks that I am going to try to incorporate into my life:

  1. Personalize my work space. I have a sort of cubicle style desk space. While I don’t have a private office space, I could put up some personal pictures or other things personal items that might make my space more comfortable.
  2. Take more work breaks to induce more productivity. During the work day, I do have a few burnout moments, and I think getting up and away from my computer would be a helpful thing to clear my mind for a minute.
  3. Cut down on my television watching. There has been so many wonderful things to binge this summer on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime, etc., that I have spent much more time in front of the television than I should. I think I would be more productive at home and get more sleep if I don’t spend so much time in front of the television.
  4. Financial plan with spouse. Finances can be a stressful on a personal relationship. Having a present and future plan when it comes to money might be helpful.
  5. Exercise with others. Exercising with others holds you accountable to someone else. You can’t talk yourself out of doing it. A few years back, my husband and I would take nightly walks. It was a great way to connect, while moving at the same time. I would like to get back to that.

While I actually don’t spend that much time on my phone anymore – scrolling through different social media sights – I know plenty of people who do. This book addresses limiting the time you are on your phone or other tech gadgets. That technology does not necessarily make us happy and can lead to addiction, anxiety and possible harm to relationships.

If you are new to self-help and looking at ways to bring more happiness to your life, Happiness Hacks is a good baseline with plenty of helpful suggestions.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

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?

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: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦