Book Review: Happier at Home


Who wrote it: Gretchen Rubin

What it’s all about:

In Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin outlines her efforts to create a happier home for herself and her family. The book follows the same format as The Happiness Project: every month has a set of resolutions that Gretchen strives to achieve. The difference is that, in Happier at Home, Gretchen starts the project on September instead of January, pointing out that September is a start of something new for many families because it’s when kids go back to school. Throughout the book, Gretchen discusses how she wants to improve her relationship with her husband, become a better parent to her two daughters, appreciate her possessions more without being mastered by them, and achieve other goals.

Why I like it:

I was excited to read Happier at Home, but I wasn’t really expecting that I would like it. I know it sounds crazy, but I wanted to read it simply because Gretchen wrote it. I never thought I would like it, though; in my mind, The Happiness Project will always be the best.

But how wrong I was. Happier at Home is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Through it, I realised just how important it is to be happy at home. Just think: no matter how satisfied you are with your performance at work or school, and no matter how many exciting holidays you take to exotic countries, you still won’t be completely happy if your home life is miserable.

Gretchen has written many wonderful, thought-provoking points throughout the book, though two chapters do stand out from the rest: “September” (which discusses Possessions) and “January” (which talks about Time). I love Gretchen’s suggestions on how to glean a lot of happiness from your possessions without being controlled by them as well as her tips on how to make the most of your time to do the things you want to do. These two things are my weakest links: I find it hard to clear the clutter in our home and manage my time wisely so I won’t get burned out by work.

I also like the part where Gretchen talks about our sense of smell and discusses how we can use good scents to be happier. I definitely agree with her: I feel happier and more confident when I use soaps, body washes, and perfumes that leave me smelling good, and I become happy when I get a whiff of a scent that triggers good memories in my brain. The sad part is that I have allergic rhinitis, so I almost always get a stuffed nose when I come near strong scents, no matter how heavenly they smell. That sucks.

Where to buy it: I bought my copy at National Bookstore in SM City Cebu, though I’ve also found the book in National Bookstore in SM Consolacion and in Fully Booked in Ayala. Of course, you can buy it on Amazon.

Favourite quotes:

“I couldn’t make them happy, no matter how I desired to, and they couldn’t make me happy, either. We all have to find happiness for ourselves.”

I actually have a lot of favourite quotes from the book, and this is one of them. I like it because it reminds me that other people’s happiness is not my responsibility — which is something that I often forget. I have this tendency to want to please people, to make them happy. If I had the power and the money, I’d use them to improve the lives of my friends and family. But I can’t. Even if I give them millions of pesos, they will never be happy if they themselves don’t want to be.

So, instead of trying to become a fairy godmother to other people, I should focus on making myself happy. As what Gretchen wrote, “The only person I can change is myself”, so I must concentrate on making changes in myself that will make me happier in the long run. The list is miles long (there are lots of things I need to change in myself, starting with my weight) and it’s overwhelming, but at least it’s a start.


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