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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 August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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