Happier at Home

Gretchen Rubin

Though not as profound as her wonderful book The Happiness Project, Rubin still manages to mine some excellent life truths. Narrowing her focus from general life happiness to happiness at home and with family, Rubin looks at our attitudes toward our stuff, house-mates and local environs. In particular I think she does a wonderful job discussing the first-world dichotomy of having/wanting stuff vs. the desire to rid ourselves of stuff. our capitalist system is based on the selling of things and advertising encouraging us to buy more is everywhere.  Yet, there is a pervasive attitude that having and wanting stuff is bad.  We will be more pure and happy if you don’t have many possessions…unless of course your possessions include copies of Real Simple magazine and special stuff organization systems. However, Rubin argues, much of our happiness comes from the memories attached to stuff, the attractiveness of the stuff or the usefulness of the stuff.

Other areas of her life she explores beyond the physical stuff of home is making your living space liveable for you, going on adventures in your neighborhood, finding ways to deal with grouchy of jerky people and other everyday hassles.  One of her tenets, Happiness doesn’t always make me feel happy ties in with her other tenet of suffering for happiness.

Rubin rightly argues that many things in our life that we do don’t make us feel happy, or at least joyful, and yet they do make use happy.  Doing an unpleasant task that you have been avoiding, and feeling guilty about, may not make you happy while you are doing it.  But it will provide you the happy relief of having gotten it done.  The suffering may not be fun at the time, but it is necessary for long-term happiness.

Rubin’s writing continues to be a joy to read. She takes such  a light-hearted look at what can seem such monumental concepts and makes them pleasurable, fascinating and deeply topical.