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Book Review – Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

Book Review – Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin


    I had the pleasure of reading Gretchen Rubin’s last book, The Happiness Project, which chronicled her quest to spend an entire year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life while working to build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps along the way. In fact, she’s maintains a blog over at the www.happiness-project.com, where she continues to write about her happiness adventures.

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    So when I learned she had a follow-up to The Happiness Project, I jumped at the chance to give it a read. Today marks the launch of that book, Happier at Home, and while my initial curiosity was all about whether or not there would much of her previous work reappearing within its pages, that isn’t the case. Instead, the author builds upon her previous book, and as result she makes both books all the more accessible to a wider audience.

    Happier at Home describes her second Happiness Project, which ran from September to May — which essentially mirrors the school year. As with The Happiness Project, Rubin devotes a chapter — consisting of one habit — to each month, outlined as follows:

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    1. September — Possessions
    2. October — Marriage
    3. November — Parenthood
    4. December — Interior Design (Renovate Myself)
    5. January — Time
    6. February — Body
    7. March — Family
    8. April — Neighborhood
    9. May — Now

    As a writer and a stay-at-home parent, Happier at Home really resonated with me. Rubin strives to make her home as pleasant a place as possible through measurable means and provides a guideline (and guidance) for the rest of us. Much like A.J. Jacobs has done in his work, Rubin acts as a sort of “guinea pig” for the readers, so that we can see what can happen if we follow through with an experiment like this. And in this case, an experiment like this one well worth giving a try. No matter whether or not you work at home or not, it’s important to make your home a place where you can thrive — and by working to improve on nine aspects of her home life Rubin has provided a roadmap for us to follow.

    Rubin’s writing style is quite anecdotal, but many of the stories are easy to relate to. Her style makes Happier at Home a very easy read, even if taking on the project within isn’t quite as easy.

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    If you were a fan of The Happiness Project, then you’ll like how Happier at Home takes things one step further. But if you haven’t read Rubin’s previous book, then this book is a great place to start.

    We’ve been given the opportunity to giveaway copies of Happier at Home to 3 lucky Lifehack readers. To enter for your chance to win, simply leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page mentioning what one of the nine areas of home life mentioned in the book that you feel is the most important for your to improve to achieve greater happiness. You will get one entry for a comment here and one for a comment on our Facebook page, giving you two chances to win if you do both.

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    We’ll select the winners at random on Sunday September 9th at 11 p.m. Pacific time, so be sure to enter by then and to leave us with a means to contact you. Good luck!

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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    Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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