52 Books: Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

I got this book from Netgalley for a couple of reasons. 1) I’ve heard a lot about Rubin’s previous book, The Happiness Project. 2) I’ve been trying to “sort out” our home lately and I figured I needed all the help I could get. At first I wasn’t at all sure. Rubin’s voice is very dry and I was worried the book would be entirely humourless, but as I read on, I found I got a bit… obsessed.

It’s not unlike me to become besotted with a book, but I’m not really sure why I ended up loving this one so much. I was right about Rubin – she doesn’t really do humour, she readily admits that she struggles in this area – but it ended up not bothering me at all. I liked her voice. I liked how she was honest about her own shortcomings and struggles and she had lots of good, sensible advice for being, you know, happier at home. Nothing earth-shattering, just little things that make you think.

Plus, the book actually contains some of the best relationship advice I’ve ever read. ‘Kiss in the morning, kiss at night’ speaks for itself, but really it’s easy to forget to do it (or rather, get out of the habit of doing it) (kissing, I mean). ‘Make the positive argument’ is the one that really resonated with me. Rubin says she can sometimes fall into a “spiral of criticism” about her husband, Jamie: “He annoys me by not answering me when I speak to him and that get me thinking about how he also annoyed me by not mailing an important form, and so on.” I do exactly this with David. He does something – however small – that annoys me and my brain immediately starts coming up with many, many other examples of annoyances and soon I’m chuntering to myself about how he always does something and never does something else. Rubin says: “When I caught myself thinking ‘Jamie isn’t very thoughtful,’ and my mind started kicking up examples of thoughtlessness, I contradicted myself with ‘Jamie is very thoughtful’ – and sure enough, I was able to come up with many examples of his thoughtful behaviour. ‘Jamie doesn’t enjoy celebrating holidays’; ‘Jamie does enjoy celebrating holidays.’ I could actually feel my opinion shift. It was almost uncanny.” Again, it’s a simple change, but one I can see myself making use of for, you know, ever. Or at least until David stops annoying me…

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