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Get Happier at Home: Practical Tips from Gretchen Rubin

Eric Swanson recently sat down with bestselling author Gretchen Rubin to talk about her book Happier at Home (now available in paperback). He said “it was like talking to a really good friend—someone wise, funny, resolutely practical, and refreshingly honest.”

To feel more at home, at home, one suggestion Rubin offers is to “cultivate a shrine”—to make a place of special dedication to something that you love.

Rubin has created several such places in her apartment, but one she’s particularly fond of is a shrine to children’s literature: an area occupied by a bookcase full of children’s books, her old Cricket magazines, and a Gryffindor banner a friend brought her from the Harry Potter theme park.

“When I pulled all these things together,” she continues, “I realized it wasn’t anything that I hadn’t owned before, but by mindfully arranging them, I energized it. And now that’s one of my favorite parts of my apartment, because here’s all these things that I love.”

Rubin is quick to point out that building strong relationships with other people is critical.

Visions of group therapy sessions begin a danse macabre in my head. But Rubin dispels them with a simple suggestion for enhancing the level of attentiveness and tenderness in relationships.

“We started a family resolution to give warm greetings and farewells whenever someone comes and goes. You feel better when somebody really acknowledges that you’ve come home or that you’re on your way out. You have a moment of connection.”

Appreciation for what we already have is also key.

“People who feel grateful tend to be happier,” Rubin observes. “Yet it’s so easy to take for granted all the things that make us happiest.”

After a fruitless attempt at keeping a gratitude journal (“It drove me crazy”), she found another, more immediate, route.

“In my apartment building there are two doors you have to go through, in or out, so there’s sort of forced pause—which to me is like the real threshold of my home. So whenever I go out or in, I use that transition to create a threshold ritual to remember how happy I am to be coming home or how happy I am to be going out into the world.”

As I ponder this, I feel as though I’m on a threshold, myself.

“To understand yourself,” Rubin tells me, “is to understand your home. And to understand your home is to understand yourself.”

Excerpted from “Feel More Home, at Home: A Conversation with Gretchen Rubin” by Eric Swanson. Get the full article at BooksforBetterliving.com
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Congrats to Kathy W., Laura R., Barb B., Emily W., Catherine G., and 20 other members of the Read It Forward community! Their entries were selected at random to win a paperback copy of Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.

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About the Author

ERIC SWANSON has co-authored four books, including the New York Times bestseller, The Joy of Living, and is the sole author of several additional works of fiction and non-fiction. He's studied Tibetan Buddhism for many years and most days he makes peace with the cranky guy inside his head. Visit him online at EricSwansonBooks.com.  
  • Cynthia Blain

    Would have really enjoyed winning this book. Will order now then. Interesting subject and writer too.

    • BigReader

      I read it and it’s even better than her 1st book!

      • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

        I agree, BigReader!

  • Julie

    I did not win this book, bummer. I am still looking forward to reading it as it seems very appealing and I believe I can learn a lot from reading it. Sorry I didn’t win, but glad I had the chance to become familiarized with it so that I may read it in the future.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      Hope you’ve had a chance to get a copy, Julie! Do let us know what you think of the read.

  • http://lovevisiting.blogspot.com/ DogsMom

    I have it on my TBR pile. I enjoyed her first book and whenever I can listen to her in the media.

  • Nikki

    I just received this book. I am fairly certain I did NOT enter this giveaway. I won this book in a previous giveaway from rif & didn’t care for it the first time.

    • http://www.readitforward.com/ Kira, editor @ Read It Forward

      We apologize for the mix-up, Nikki! Our records show that your entry was chosen to win … we hope you’ll consider passing it on to a friend who might enjoy it.

  • Antoinette

    Thank you so very much. I was very excited that I won this book. Can’t wait to read it.