How to be happier at home
We spend a significant amount of time at home, yet we may not think about how our habits, routines and possessions affect our wellbeing. ‘Happier at Home1’ author Gretchen Rubin spent a year finding out how she could improve her happiness by making small adjustments around the house.
Rubin believes that although material possessions can’t make you happy, they provide valuable memories and experiences that can improve our wellbeing. She argues that possessions with sentimental value, those that are useful, or those that remind us of loved ones should hold an important place in the home.
As part of her happiness project, Rubin rid herself of things around the home that didn’t matter to her, so she could make more room for those that did. By cultivating a ‘shrine’ to things around the home that were meaningful to her, she transformed areas in her home to places of super-engagement. This included creating a shrine to family (with cards, photos and family memories) and a shrine to smell (with perfumes, candles and flowers).
Tip: You may like to have a shrine to family, travel, arts and crafts or cooking—whatever it is, look for meaningful items around your house and arrange them together in a visually appealing way, so you can get more enjoyment out of them.
Suffer for fifteen minutes
“The pleasure of doing the same thing, in the same way, every day, shouldn’t be overlooked,” Rubin writes. “The things I do every day take on a certain beauty and provide a kind of invisible architecture to my life.”
Rubin harnessed the power of ‘everyday’ to accomplish some long-procrastinated tasks, such as completing family photo albums. Creating the albums was a simple way to store important family memories, so Rubin vowed she would ‘suffer for 15 minutes’ each day to finish the task, using completion instead of perfection as her goal.
Tip: Consider choosing a task that’s been on your to-do list for too long and ‘suffer for 15 minutes’ each day until it’s completed.
Be a tourist without leaving home
Positive psychologists believe that people who appreciate beauty and excellence are more likely to find joy and meaning in everyday life. They also display a stronger tendency to create deeper, more loving connections with other people2.
To remind herself of the beauty and excellence in her everyday life, Rubin decided to be a tourist without leaving home. Instead of visiting all the tourist spots, she focused on having the ‘eye and enthusiasm’ of a tourist—reading and studying local places, showing up and seeing things with fresh eyes.
“Being a tourist is a state of mind,” she writes.
Tip: Take a different route to work, research the history of your suburb or simply spend time admiring the architecture of buildings. You may be surprised at how much this makes you appreciate your local area.
 Rubin, G. (2012), Happier at home: kiss more, jump more, abandon a project, read Samuel Johnson, and my other experiments in the practice of everyday life, Random House, New York
 Peterson, C., Seligman, M.E.P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.