Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Real Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life
The author of The Happiness Project—the #1 New York Times bestseller that launched a nationwide movement—now brings us an inspiring approach to feeling truly at home in our lives, with our families, and in the places we call home.
“Behind our unremarkable front door waits the little world of our own making, a place of safety, of exploration, comfort, and love. The dry scent of the coat closet, the faint clankings from the service elevator, the sight of our library books lined up by the front door, the flavor of the toothpaste we all share—this is my foundation.” —FROM CHAPTER ONE, “PREPARATION”
When Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project was published in 2009, it soon became a mega-bestseller and a cultural phenomenon, sparking powerful dialogues about the human quest for joy and satisfaction in life. One of the book’s gifts is freedom from perfection, and an understanding that happiness can be a continual process. Perhaps that’s why Gretchen felt inspired, rather than afraid, when she was recently struck by a pang of homesickness—in her very own home. She was standing in the kitchen, listening to the familiar sound of her husband and young daughters chattering away, yet an overwhelming feeling of yearning consumed her. Turning her eye homeward, she embarked on a happiness project that explores the heart of fulfillment, now captured in HAPPIER AT HOME (Crown Archetype; On Sale September 4, 2012).
Blending eye-opening research with heartfelt personal recollections and wisdom spanning centuries, HAPPIER AT HOME traces Gretchen’s quest over a nine-month period, beginning in September—the month that marks the beginning of the Mother Olympics. “The weather set a perfect mood as I walked through the neighborhood with my long list of back-to-school errands,” she recalls. “The late summer air hung rich with fresh beginnings and new possibilities. . . . Vacation was over, and the end was the beginning. September was here.”
Devoting one chapter to each month in the school year, HAPPIER AT HOME guides readers through such topics as:
Possessions. Delving beyond basic principles of de-cluttering, Gretchen describes how she transformed the role of possessions—including her children’s prized toys—throughout her Manhattan apartment. Her approach includes gleaning more happiness from things we already own, cultivating small “shrines” to important parts of our identity, mustering the courage to read manuals so that handy devices will actually get used, and going shelf by shelf to identify problem objects that interfere with creating a happy home.
Marriage. With insight for all couples—married or not—the book describes dozens of beautifully simple actions that can restore a sense of supportive love in intimate partnerships. Tips for exploring and overcoming the urge to chastise rather than “give gold stars” are featured as well, along with insight for couples who feel the scales of fairness tipping off balance. In Gretchen’s case, this was manifested in her guilt over the fact that her husband does almost all the driving; conquering her paralyzing fear of getting behind the wheel, she finally takes driving lessons, masters GPS, and empowers herself and her marriage along the way.
Time. “The days are long, but the years are short” has become a mantra for Gretchen. HAPPIER AT HOME brims with truths about managing technology, guarding our children’s free time, cultivating a spirit of unhurriedness, and seeming to stretch time to savor meaningful moments. Throughout the book, the goal of experiencing happiness in the present—right now—is underscored. Gretchen also shares beautiful stories of making time for weekly adventures with her older daughter.
Family. From enjoying a rewarding parenthood to adapting to new roles with our own parents, Gretchen examines the importance of ritual and surprise, creating a sense of home that can transcend place. Faraway siblings, life paths that take us far from our childhood homes, seemingly small relocations to a new neighborhood: holding tightly to family relationships can yield a deeply reassuring form of happiness, no matter what place we call home.
HAPPIER AT HOME also features illuminating strategies and reassuring words about “interior design” (renovations of the self), the body (from coping with the uncertainty of health to experiencing sublime flavors and smells), and neighborhoods—particularly the importance of connecting with our environments and communities in special ways. For any reader who feels uprooted—emotionally or otherwise—Gretchen’s journey presents a powerful new vision of coming home.
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GRETCHEN RUBIN is the author of several books, including the blockbuster #1 New York Times bestseller The Happiness Project. Rubin started her career in law and was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized that she really wanted to be a writer. Raised in Kansas City, she now lives in New York City with her husband and their two daughters.