Happier At Home is an instruction manual to transform your home into a castle of happiness by figuring out what needs to be changed, what needs to stay the same, and embracing the gift of family.
This was Gretchen Rubin’s second book after The Happiness Project, and the one before Better Than Before (ha!) and The Four Tendencies. When Gretchen suddenly felt homesick, even though she was standing right in her own kitchen, she knew some things at home had to change to make it the happy place she remembered. She went on to dedicate 9 months with one change each to improving the happiness of her family and thus, herself.
Going through different themes, she looked at the most important factors of a cosy home: time, possessions, parenthood, marriage and family. She found out that making tiny changes is more than enough to become Happier At Home and spread happiness like a wonderful infection wherever you go.
Try these 3 lessons in your own home and watch your happiness-meter go up:
- Get rid of clutter.
- Under react to problems.
- Meet your neighbors.
Ready to help yourself to a happy home? Here we go!
Lesson 1: Unclutter your home.
It sounds so simple, but I can vouch that this is life-changing. Go through all of the possessions in your house, one by one, pick them up and ask yourself this: “When’s the last time I used this? How much do I like it?”
No matter how little you think you might have, you’ll realize there’s a ton of junk among it. Works every time.
A house full of stuff doesn’t just make your house full. It also fills your mind to the brim. You’ll notice you tend to think a lot more about what you could improve and contemplate the important things in life once you find yourself in a less cluttered space. You can start asking your family questions about what they really want and then get them just that, instead of cleaning up all the unnecessary stuff they already have.
Also make sure to actually get familiar with the things you do decide to keep. If you won’t read that coffee-maker manual about how to clean your machine, then toss it out!
Lastly, always keep the things that matter most to you where you can see them. If you love seeing pictures of your family vacation from 5 years ago, hang some of them right on the center wall in your living room.
Less clutter = more happiness.
Lesson 2: Underreact to problems.
Overreacting is overrated. Why not underreact to problems for a change?
For example, when her daughter spilled a bottle of open nail polish on the carpet, Gretchen didn’t yell at her and make a big fuss. Instead, she calmly told her to search the web to find a way to clean the stain and get rid of it, so that’s exactly what she did. Nobody was upset, the stain was gone and her daughter had even learned a new skill – how great is that?
So stop being a drama queen (or king), take a deep breath, and get people to solve the problems they’ve caused calmly and without aggression.
Lesson 3: Get to know your neighbors.
The bigger your family, the bigger your happiness, that makes sense, right? So how about extending your family by connecting with your neighbors? Over 30% of Americans don’t even know who their neighbors are, which is quite a depressing statistic for a species that has for thousands of years relied on one another to survive.
Sure, you don’t have to invite everyone to a big BBQ right away, but you can at least start. Maybe you want to ease into things by strolling around the neighborhood and getting to know buildings, locations and culturally important sites – who knows who you’ll end up talking to!
Then you can start walking down the street with a batch of fresh muffins, ready to take your neighbors’ hearts by storm. Some of the greatest friendships started with people bonding over a borrowed cup of sugar or someone holding the ladder, so don’t neglect your neighbors.
They might become part of your family circle and thus play a great role for your happiness down the road (pun intended).
My personal take-aways
Happier At Home is short, to the point, personal, relatable and actionable. The summary on Blinkist is jam-packed with tips and insights, usually multiple in one blink. Gretchen really knows how to conduct proper experiments and document the results.
I loved the idea of underreacting to problems and displaying important memorabilia front and center. Now guess what I’ll do once I press publish on this. Especially if you’re in a slump in your family life, I recommend you run some experiments to become Happier At Home.