When I was invited to interview Gretchen Rubin about her #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project, I jumped at the chance. Both of us braved the biggest storm to hit Toronto in years to meet at Kobo headquarters on a snowy morning to chat about her newest book, Happier at Home.
Here are some of the highlights:
As you can see from our chat, Gretchen seems to be extremely happy these days. And why not? She left her life as a lawyer to become a guinea pig of joy, an experimenter of elation, a guru of feeling good. Her plan was to examine the causes, benefits and symptoms of happiness on her life by trying to live happier. In Happier at Home, Gretchen puts herself through a series of very disciplined monthly exercises, each geared to up the joy in and around her family home.
And when I say disciplined, I mean seriously disciplined. From consciously deciding to kiss her husband every. single. morning. and. every. single. night no matter what, to clearing out every single cluttered drawer in her home, Gretchen went overboard so we don't have to. Instead, her monthly manias allow us a glimpse into how small gestures can affect our moods.
Dealing with clutter is definitely a concept that resonated with me. According to research in the book, and Gretchen's personal experience, there is direct correlation between tidying up your living space and feeling content. For this reason, she also went through the many messy shelves around her New York apartment and put all of her belongings, including her beloved kids' lit collection, in order. By doing this, her satisfaction level shot up.
While possessions shouldn't overtake our lives, it was interesting how Gretchen points out that those who do hang on to "things" or mementos for emotional reasons are often happier and more connected people. The key is to not hang on to too much stuff, and to keep it organized.
Happier at Home is not just about the stuff. It's very much about the changing relationships with her two young daughters and obliging husband. Her family had to have been extremely patient to indulge Gretchen's monthly projects which often directly involved them. I very much related to her decision to spend extra quality time with each of her daughters individually, definitely upping the happy quotient with her kids. She also improved her marriage by consciously not nagging her husband, and only speaking kindly to him. Not surprisingly, her behaviour had a very positive affect on their marriage, making life happier at home for everyone. Any couple in a long term marriage can relate to that one for sure.
Will this book make you happier? Gretchen provides a number of very practical, easy projects for you to try that may impact you and those around you positively. Just the smallest changes can have a big ripple effect. And who doesn't want to be just that much happier at home?
Three YMC members will be very happy when they win their own copy of Happier at Home, courtesy of Random House of Canada.
Photo: Andrew Williamnson