Easy ways to get your home life—and your schedule—in shape, from Gretchen Rubin, author of Happier at Home.
We all want to walk through the front door and think, Ahhh. But that’s often more fantasy than reality when you come home to dishes piling up in the kitchen, newspapers scattered about the house, your husband’s asking about dinner, and, whoa, what is that smell? Luckily, there are some simple (read: fast and easy!) changes you can make to improve your home life and feel happier there. (Check out these houseplants that can boost your health.)
What’s even better? New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, did the hard work for you in her new book Happier at Home by figuring out how to improve different aspects of your home life, such as dealing with your possessions and family obligations. Check out our one-on-one with her to see how you can start making your fantasy home life a reality.
Diana Kelly: What made you decide to tackle your home life?
Gretchen Rubin: I realized that for me, and for a lot of people, a lot of elements of a happy life converged in the idea of home. Everything from marriage, appearances, possessions, time…all of these things are part of the experience of home. I had this weird moment of intense homesickness one day while standing in my own kitchen, and I was so puzzled by that emotion that it really got me thinking about what I felt about my home. And when I did that, I realized I’d sort of been missing the whole framework of thinking about a happy life. So I wanted to focus on the idea of happiness at home.
Diana Kelly: The first thing you address are your possessions. Any tips for sorting through our stuff and clearing out the clutter?
Gretchen Rubin: The test is to ask yourself, “Do you use it, do you need it, or do you love it?” Look at everything you have and ask yourself that. It can be kind of tiring, but if you do it little by little and figure out who to give things to, it makes the process much easier. It’s when you don’t know what to do with your stuff that things begin to pile up. It’s much more satisfying to give things away. (Drowning in possessions? Learn how too much clutter could be hurting your health.)
Diana Kelly: You also focused on time. How can people make the best use of theirs?
Gretchen Rubin: I cram my life with the things I love; everything that I love, I make time for. That means other things have to fall away. When you do that, you have to say to yourself, “What things are not going to get done?” You can’t make time for everything. You have to face your own values and realize what’s true for you. Think about, is it really important to you to vacuum once a week? Or are you doing it because your mother told you that you should? Try these 9 morning habits to feel happier all day.
Diana Kelly: Which change has improved your life the most?
Getting enough sleep. I’ve become a sleep zealot. So many people I talk to say they’re overwhelmed, or paralyzed, or listless, and they’re just not getting enough sleep. I was always a pretty good sleeper, but now it’s my top priority. I wake up before my alarm goes off and I just love it. As a writer, my mind is my only tool so anything that helps my focus, attention, and concentration is super important.
Diana Kelly: What helps you unwind before bed?
Gretchen Rubin: Now at a certain point I won’t let myself check my email. I also exercise regularly and I think that really helps with sleep.
Diana Kelly: You make a point to focus on mindfulness. How did it help with your happiness?
Gretchen Rubin: Mindfulness is absolutely key to a happy life. Think about why are you doing what you’re doing, and does it reflect your values and temperament? And the more you are mindful about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, the more you can shape your life to be happy. It takes a lot of discipline to be aware in that way.
Try these 5-minute mood boosters.
Read the full article on Prevention.com.
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