A Fantastic Read for this Quasi Expat: Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project was one of the best books I read last year.  It was also one of the best books I re-read this year. The book is uplifting; just reading it makes me feel joyful.  I also enjoy implementing Gretchen Rubin’s ideas on how to be happier into my everyday life (I wrote a little bit about that here).  When I found out she was coming out with a new book I was very excited.  My anticipation mounted when I discovered that the book was about one of my favorite topics: home.  Despite the fact that the past couple years of my life (and the couple coming up) have been spent largely abroad, I think home is one of the most amazing things in the world.

I had no reservations about the topic of the book before reading, but I can imagine that some people might.  Gretchen Rubin is tackling another happiness project?  Yep, but this one is very different than the first.  While The Happiness Project is a broad study of what it means to be happy and how one can boost their general overall happiness, Happier At Home delves into a specific topic that was only directly touched upon in the first book.  While some of the same points come up, the specific angle of Happier At Home means that they are examined in a very different light.  A spoiler alert for what you’re about to read, I liked this one better.

Happier At Home is more than just Rubin’s attempt to make her home a more inviting place.  It describes her quest to discover what home really means and how she can make sure that home is always a place that fosters happy memories as opposed to uncomfortable ones.  While her approach to her home is unique — I personally would want a well-equipped kitchen in my perfect house — the steps she goes through in realizing her dream can be applied to most living situations.  She makes her office a place that fosters work (I should probably clean my desk come to think of it), she takes opportunities for fun even if they require extra work and she discusses her relationships in-depth with the people in her home.  Ultimately, the book suggests that being happy at home isn’t just being content with the space that you inhabit, but creating an atmosphere filled with love.  The people, the environment and the items in your home should foster a loving ambiance.

My words may make Rubin’s message resemble a generic statement embroidered on the throw pillow that the cat sits on, but Rubin provides plenty of evidence to support her assertions.  One of my favorite aspects of The Happiness Project was Rubin’s ability to interweave research-elements and memoir-elements.  Happier At Home achieves the same beautiful balance.  If you like home and like thinking about home, this book will no doubt be a welcome addition to your book shelves.

As I’m abroad, I’ve been thinking about home more and more.  I love New York and consider it to be my home above anywhere else; however, sometimes I ask myself if New York is my home because I feel genuinely attached to the city, or if the people and the memories I have in New York make the city feel like home.  It’s a distinct grey area.  My familiarity with New York leaves me to feel free to experience the city without judgement.  My friends are there, my parents are there, my culture is there, my favorite cafes are there: the city is slowly becoming a tribute to my life.  Yet, there’s something to be said that home is a state of mind.  Rubin does a fantastic job of blending the two ideologies to help you remember that home has components of both.

Where do you feel the most at home?

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