Everybody wants to be happy. Right? Well, Gretchen Rubin wants to be happy, so a few years ago she wrote a book called The Happiness Project, a book that inspired me to literally put down the book and clean out my closet and to write everyday. The book is a best seller, so she recently released a sequel called Happier At Home.
“[The home is] the starting point of their day and of their existence, so as I learned more and more about happiness, I really wanted to go very deeply into this idea with time and possessions, my family, my neighborhood. To try to see, were there things that I could do to be happier at home? Because if I could be happier at home, then I would be happier.”
First she starts with the people she lives with, her husband and kids.
“Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists would agree: the key to happiness is strong relationships with other people. So many of my resolutions are aimed at strengthening my relationships. One thing we did in our family is, now we give warm greetings and farewells anytime someone comes and goes from the apartment, instead of just grunting a hello. Or I resolve to kiss my husband in the morning and kiss him at night. Or I started a childrens literature book group so now I have time with friends who share a passion of mine.”
She decided to devote 15 minutes a day to a task she’d been putting off.
“I had all these pictures and didn’t know what to do with them so I decided I was going to suffer for 15 minutes a day until I got them into physical albums and not just digital. It didn’t take that long and I felt a huge relief once I got that burden out of the way.”
She made dozens of resolutions and she keeps track of them.
“I have a chart with all my resolutions on it and I score myself every night. On the one hand, it helps me remember that I decided not to gossip or I’ve decided be a tourist without leaving home, resolutions like that. By scoring myself I hold myself accountable.”
Thousands of people all over the world have jumped on her happiness bandwagon and everyone has chosen their own resolutions. Gretchen talks about how to get started:
“Pick or choose a few things that make them feel excited, like, ‘Wow, if I did that differently I would be happy.’ For a lot of people it might be as simple as going to sleep earlier. If you just go to sleep a half an hour or an hour earlier, that might be a good start. Or something as small as making your bed. Weirdly, that is the number one resolution that people mention to me as something that makes them happier.”
The idea is all about awareness. Think about the things in your life you don’t like and how you can change that, think about the things that you do like and how you do more of that.
“Nobody has any extra time, energy or money, but really most of the things that I do don’t take very much time. I think it’s really more the effort of mindfully identifying something you want to do differently and then following through with it.”