I was grateful to Gretchen Rubin when she offered me a review copy of her new book, "Happier at Home."
Happiness is probably my favorite subject in the world. I've been an avid reader of positive psychology books for over a decade (you can find a summary of some of the things I've learned in this slideshow), and have written about the subject on numerous occasions. I even had the privilege of being interviewed by Gretchen on her blog. I have a secret ambition of being referred to as "the happiest man in Silicon Valley."
In other words, "Happier at Home" is right up my alley. I actually read most of the book while flying to and from Los Angeles for some business meetings, but things got so busy that it had been sitting on my desk for long enough that I was feeling guilty for not finishing it and posting a review. So naturally, in the spirit of Gretchen, I set about finishing the book this week, and resolved to sit down and write my review as soon as I was done.
This explains why I'm writing a book review at 10:13 PM on a Saturday night.
The good news, for both me and Gretchen, is that I enjoyed and benefited from reading the book. There are a few reviewers on Amazon who didn't like the book as much as its predecessor, "The Happiness Project."
The issue, I think, is that Happier at Home is a much more personal book. Unlike "The Happiness Project," which has served as a best-selling introduction to positive psychology, this book places less of an emphasis on specific research and techniques, and more on Gretchen's very personal quest to apply principles of happiness to her home life.
For me, however, this makes it an even more important book. Family is very important to me--you'd hardly expect less from someone who's favorite book is "Why Do I Love These People." And getting the chance to dive in much greater depth into Gretchen's relationships with her sister, her in-laws, her parents, her girls, and her husband was welcome.
Gretchen and I don't have very similar lives or even personalities. But reading the book made me feel like I had lived a year with her. And her specific experiences definitely triggered urges and responses in me.
For example, Gretchen's work on assembling photo albums convinced me to do the same for my family, something which has proved very important after the passing of my beloved Kobe. One of things I do to comfort myself is to look through our Kobe photobook, a process I go through on a near-daily basis.
The overall message I took away is the importance of tackling the concrete things in our lives, and that spending even small amounts of focused time being intentional about our home lives can have a major difference.
I heartily recommend Gretchen's new book, and hope to be reaping the harvest of its lessons for years to come. As usual, you can buy it on Amazon.