The Life of Bon: Bon's Book Club: Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Bon's Book Club: Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin


Every month we read a book.  On the selected day, we talk about it.  Join in for whatever books you can.  I know you are all busy, and you might not be able to read all the books. (Or be interested in reading all the books!)  Read what you want and comment on what you want.  Some readers write their own review on their blog and then link up to it, others just write their thoughts in the comments- it's up to you!  If you write your own post and link up, please slap the image above on your post! Grazi!


This month's selection for Bon's Book Club was Happier at Home (or The Happiness Project) by Gretchen Rubin.  Happiness Project is the original, but I had already read that, so I opted for the sequel- Happier at Home with the option for you guys to read the original if you haven't already.

I really dig Gretchen Rubin.  She gets me.  I get her.  She and I are one.  Kind of.  I love how organized and slightly neurotic she is, and I love that she totally owns it. (Be Gretchen!  One of her commandments.)  The premise of both books is that Rubin decides to be more purposeful about being happier.  It isn't that she's not happy at that moment, she just wants to be happier.  I really love that.  I consider myself a pretty happy person, but the last few months in particular I've been thinking more about the psychology of happiness and I love the idea of making purposeful goals to hit my max level of possible happiness.

In both books Rubin takes a goal a month and conquers it with lots of mini goals.  For example, her goal in October is "Marriage" and her sub goals include things like "Kiss in the morning, kiss at night" "Give gold stars" (praising a partner for good deeds) and "Make the positive argument."  I love the way she breaks down the goals, and in fact one year I even tried this for my new year resolution. I failed miserably because that was the year of lots of happy curve balls.  New house! New baby! New job!  All were awesome awesome things that happened to our family, but it made for my little individual goals shot out the window.  You need a certain amount of stability in your life to worry about little goals like remembering to kiss your spouse in the morning.  ANYWAY, I am hoping to revisit that resolution/ goal habit with more success in 2016.  We shall see.

Some stuff from the book I really liked:
- In one section Rubin makes the goal to "embrace good smells." I had never really put words to it before, but I am a "good smell" fanatic.  I keep wanting to give up my strange little stint selling scentsy products but I looooooove good smells.  I feel comforted and happy when I walk into my house and it smells good.  I love my car to smell good, my clothes to smell good, my body to smell good.  Rubin talks alot about just being more aware of smells and allowing ourselves to take time to appreciate them.  I really liked that.  (And I don't mean to pimp my scentsy biz, but if any of you are as obsessed with fall/winter smells as I am, you can hit me up for suggestions.  I just got my fall and holiday scents for this year and they are to die for.  For fall I love autumn sunrise, autumn sunset, orange amber, and cozy fireside.  For winter/Christmas I love eskimo kiss, whiteout, snowy spruce, iced pine, and silver bells.  Scentsy really takes it up a notch when it comes to holiday smells. Seriously, check them out if you love good smells and let me know if you have questions/ want suggestions.)

- One of my favorite suggestions is to "Under react to a problem."  I tend to be a huge over reactor so I love the suggestion to downplay things.  In general, I think my life would be happier if I didn't think things were such big deals.  Because they're usually not.

- I really identify with Rubin when she talks about being frustrated with herself/ not feeling like she is making progress.  "I was weary of myself- my broken promises to do better, my small-minded grudges, my wearisome fears, my narrow preoccupations."  YES.  I am tired of myself all the time.

- I'm not happy unless I think I'm happy.  Recognizing moments of happiness are just as important as the happiness itself.  I feel like this is kind of an extension of being present/ mindfulness.  You can't be happy if you don't recognize that you're happy.

- On slowing down the pace of life:
"Really skillful people never get out of time, and are always deliberate, and never appear busy.  I wanted a pace of life that was deliberate that felt neither fast nor slow."  

I love this.  I hate appearing busy, and I hate when I am spending time with someone and I feel like they are hurried, stressed, and already thinking about what they have to do next.  I want to hit that perfect middle ground- a life not too fast nor too slow. Lots of things contribute to a hurried feeling- including the space we are living in.  She mentions cleaning out closets, clearing clutter, selling old stuff, taking stuff to thrift stores-- it all gives us more space in our homes and minds and allows us to feel less hurried.  INTERESTING.  I cleaned out my closet the next week and I absolutely found it to be true!  Now if I can just get the energy to tackle the pantry!

"Be Gretchen"  Or in my case, Be Bonnie.  I think this might have been my favorite part of the whole book- to accept the things that make us happy and the things that don't.  Staying up really late doesn't make me happy anymore.  Waking up early and getting the house cleaned and having a few moments to myself to read does make me happy.  Doing puzzles makes me happy.  Spending time outside makes me happy.  Watching lots of tv does not make me happy.  (Although a little tv makes me very happy.  A lot makes me very grumpy.)  I just loved the way Rubin embraced who she is and worked her life and her happiness goals around that instead of trying to come up with some universal what everyone else wants happiness theory.

On Work v. Talent:
"Persistence is more important to mastery than innate ability, because the single most important element in developing an expertise is the willingness to practice."

Killer statement right there!

Alright, I promised Greg I'd be done with this review at 9:00 so we can cuddle and watch a movie together.  The point is I really love Gretchen Rubin and I really enjoyed this book.  I highly recommend it to anyone.  I actually think I liked it more than the original.  I don't agree with everything Rubin says- she is way too much of a structured person than I am- but I don't have to adopt everything she says, only the things that work for me (Be Bonnie.)  She talks about making a goal to have conversations with her parents about their wills which is something I will never do to increase happiness.  I simply don't care and I trust my mom has got it under control.  Rubin also talks about this huge writing project she undertakes with her sister.  Rubin clearly likes to be productive, successful, and busy.  I like those things, too, but in moderation and I certainly am not going to tackle huge projects with an already very busy plate like she does.  That makes me more unhappy than happy.

If you haven't read either of these books, I suggest you do.  They are both nonfiction, very readable, and you can start to skim parts when she gets repetitive.

Those of you who read it, what parts did you love?  Any suggestions you are going to take into your daily lives?  Can't wait to hear your thoughts!  Leave your comments and links to your blog site below.

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