In Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life (Hodder & Stoughton), author Gretchen Rubin explores ways to make her home life more rewarding and fun. In a quest for more contentment at home, why not try one of Gretchen’s experiments for a week?
DAY 1 – ENJOY YOUR POSSESSIONS
Getting rid of things isn’t necessary for a serene sanctuary, Gretchen says. She’s a fan of the shrine – an area of ‘superengagement’, she writes. Put together things you hold dear, possessions that will make you proud and inspire you. Keep in mind that part of the process might be to declutter!
DAY 2 – PROVE YOUR LOVE TO YOUR PARTNER
Try Gretchen’s trick of handing out ‘gold stars’. Tell your partner that you appreciate what they do. Gratitude feels good, and they will like the acknowledgement. Also try to ‘make the positive argument’. When a negative thought rises, such as ‘They’re too busy for me’, try flipping it to, ‘They always makes time for me’, and find evidence to prove it.
DAY 3 – PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILDREN
Warm greetings make everyone happier, so put ‘always kiss hello and goodbye’ on your to-do list. Rather than losing your temper, opt to ‘under react to a problem’ – and respond lightly to household mishaps. Finally, embrace your neighbourhood – try taking a ‘weekly adventure’ with your kids, and keeping it local.
DAY 4 – NURTURE YOUR INNER HAPPINESS
If you can become emotionally self-sufficient, you won’t depend on other people to perk you up or be dragged down by them. Be wary of ‘happiness leeches’ – instead of trying to cheer them up, rather just acknowledge them and don’t contradict them. Or failing that, steer clear!
DAY 5 – MAKE TIME FOR WHAT’S IMPORTANT
Gretchen writes that she wants to avoid that feeling of constant rush and feel in control of her time and life. A practical anti-burnout strategy – involving some scheduled daily time out to read or just think – could do the trick. The willingness to tackle a chore you’ve been putting off also really helps.
DAY 6 – CREATE SENSUOUS EXPERIENCES
‘Home is a state of mind, but it’s also a physical experience,’ Gretchen writes. Because textures, sounds and particularly smells can evoke memories and influence mood, try scenting up your home with fragrance diffusers and aromatic oils.
DAY 7 – STRENGTHEN FAMILY BONDS
The time and energy you spend with family draws you closer, not only when you’re celebrating, but when having difficult conversations too, explains Gretchen. Think of ways to grow your family ties with your partner, children, siblings and adults. Shared creative experiences are particularly good for strengthening bonds, so get cooking, gardening or painting together.