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There are certain people who become part of the fabric of our culture. Their work touches something primal in all of us, and compels us to think and act differently in a way that improves life for us, and the people around us.
Gretchen Rubin created such a phenomenon with The Happiness Project, her account of the year she spent test-driving ancient wisdom, current scientific research, and lessons from pop culture about increasing happiness.
At the core of all our desires is the desire to be happy, and yet it can seem so elusive. The very act of searching or striving for it can negate it, if we focus so intently on creating happiness in the future that we distract ourselves from happiness in the present.
That’s part of what I appreciate about The Happiness Project. It’s not about making major life changes, pushing for a better life tomorrow. It’s about tuning into the little things that make life better today.
In her latest book, Happier at Home, Gretchen follows the same formula from her first happiness book, focusing on relationships, possessions, and issues that pertain to life at home.
What I most respect most about Gretchen is that she’s fearless in sharing herself honestly—quirks, weaknesses, and all. She acknowledges that this is crucial to her happiness, since she can build a happy life only on the foundation of her own nature.
I find this type of self-awareness and self-acceptance admirable and inspiring.
I'm grateful that Gretchen's offered to give two free copies of Happier at Home to Tiny Buddha readers.
To enter to win 1 of 2 free copies of Happier at Home:
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1. In your new book, you wrote about happiness as it pertains to your home life. What made you decide to focus on this aspect of happiness?
I realized that for me, and for many people, many of the elements of a happy life converge in the idea of “home.” Time, possessions, body, marriage, parenthood, neighborhood…home is the foundation.
2. What’s the most important thing you learned about happiness in relationships in the month you focused on improving your marriage?
If I want the atmosphere of my marriage to be tender, attentive, and romantic, I need to be that way myself. And the only person I can change is myself—but when I change, a relationship changes.
3. In the chapter on parenthood, you wrote about the power of under-reacting. Can you tell us a little about that, and how it affected your happiness?
It’s easy to get very worked up about relatively minor issues (I do have a tendency to fly off the handle). By reminding myself to under-react, I keep myself—and everyone else—calmer. Usually, I found, my operatic response was unwarranted!
4. As a fellow blogger, I was particularly interested in your section on “the cubicle in your pocket,” relating to technology. What was the most helpful practice you employed to improve your focus?
At certain points, I disconnect and don’t check my email or any online thing. When I need to do intense research and writing, I work in a library, where I never connect to the Internet. Being in that space helps me concentrate.
5. In your research, did you find any pieces of conventional happiness wisdom to be ineffective in improving your happiness?
I found keeping a gratitude journal to be an annoying exercise. That just did not work for me.
6. Did you discover something about your happiness that surprised you?
That for me, and for many people, outer order contributes to inner calm, more than it should. In the context of a happy life, an over-crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box are trivial matters, but somehow, getting control over the stuff of life makes me feel more in control of my life generally. I feel more energetic, more creative, more cheerful.
7. What’s next for you? Is there another happiness book in your future?
I do know what book I’m going to write next, but I feel superstitious about it, so am not revealing it yet…except to say that it’s highly related to happiness, though not exactly about happiness, and it’s a FASCINATING topic!
Learn more about Happier at Home on Amazon.
FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site.