Ever since I read 'The Geography of Bliss' and 'Thrive', I've been hooked on books studying happiness. 'The Happiness Project' was on my list of books to read, which is Gretchen Rubin's first happiness-oriented book. I was thrilled to find 'Happier at Home' - Gretchen's sequel project - on the Amazon Vine list recently. I gobbled it right up.
Gretchen, as she refers to herself throughout the book, is quite a bit different than me. She is more of a family person, a homebody, and isn't really that adventurous. She's not skydiving in her happiness projects, or checking off any unusual bucket list items. She is making sure to skip a little each day, make holiday breakfasts, kiss her husband more, have weekly dates with her child, create home-based possession shrines, experiment with scents, and be nice to the neighbors.
Since HOME is a major word in the title, I'm not in fact expecting Gretchen to jump out of planes. I just wasn't anticipating so many stories about her children and husband. That's not really my bag. As I realize most people on the planet find happiness in family, I can't fault this.
And I have yet to read her first book; maybe she plane-jumps there. :)
I adored the chapter on possessions, and found the concept of an 'under-buyer' interesting. Especially fascinating was the realization that abandoning a project can vastly increase happiness: how many of us berate ourselves inside every time we see a long-unfinished project sitting around? It can be hugely freeing to just release that task and move on.
Gretchen refers frequently to interesting quotes and passages from other happiness pioneers, like Thoreau, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Elizabeth Gilbert. There is some thoughtful research done about happiness.
I really appreciated that none of Gretchen's projects requires much money. Even her outings with her daughter center around nearly free activities, like museum-going. Instead of traveling to Bali and Italy, her thoughts are more along the lines of "the best things in life are free." She chooses instead to give freely of her time, her attention, and her creativity.
She clearly relishes self-examination, but the written tone stays accessible and pleasant, rather than studious.
Recommended for anyone interested in becoming happier in the place you are at, with the money you have, and for exploring self-awareness in general.
NOTE: I received this book free of charge through the Amazon Vine program, for the purposes of review.