Gretchen Rubin on how to be happier at home

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 First aired on Steven & Chris (1/10/12)

Gretchen Rubin became a New York Times bestselling author in 2009 with The Happiness Project, part manifesto, part how-to guide on bringing more happiness into your life without making drastic changes. It's three years later and Gretchen is back with more happiness tips in her latest, Happier at Home.


Rubin decided to focus on the home because the cliché is true: home is where the heart is. Home is also where the happy is. "So many elements of a happy life come together at home," Rubin told Steven and Chris co-host Steven Sabados. "You want to be as happy as you can be at home."

As with The Happiness Project, Rubin tackled happiness at home in practical, straightforward steps: from September to May, she outlined a theme for each month and "tried to figure out very manageable and realistic things in my home I could do to be happier at that place in my home."

How realistic? Some of Rubin's suggestions cost no money and little time, such as kissing your spouse every morning and every evening. A "tender, romantic atmosphere" in a relationship doesn't just happen and doing something as simple as remembering to kiss the one you love helps cultivate it. "It's ridiculous to have a kissing schedule, but he's not my roommate. He's the love of my life," Rubin said, and reminding herself to kiss her husband reminds her of that.

Rubin is also big on order. Making your bed every day will make your bedroom a happier place. "There's something about making your bed that makes you calmer. It's more inviting," she said. And the outer order helps with the inner calm. However, Rubin is quick to point out that while an orderly home does promote happiness, constantly working to keep your home orderly doesn't. She recommends that everyone, especially stay-at-home parents, have a schedule and stick to it, and make sure you include family time, play time and personal time in there. "We want home to be a place of repose, an unhurriedness," she said, and constantly rushing around, never feeling like anything is done, is unhelpful and unproductive.

But Rubin wants everyone to remember that happiness is a personal quest. Making the bed each morning might give one person a great happy high and do nothing for another. And that's okay. Figure out what works for you, then remember to do it every day. As Rubin's secrets of adulthood remind us, "By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished" and "What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while."

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