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Saturday, February 16, 2013

I'm Obsessed with this Book, You have to Read it NOW!

A few months ago, I was stuck in an "I don't really like being a stay-at-home-mom slump"... to the point where I was much more likely to call myself a "stuck-at-home" mom, at least in my head.  I was praying that God would help me have more of that heart for my home life that I once cherished... and I found it in a suspiciously coincidental highly providential trip to a bookstore later that week.

Last year, at the recommendation of my sister, I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. And I just loved it! Gretchen has such a great, energetic passion for learning and discovering and writing... and researching the ins and outs of happiness.

Jesse and I were walking aimlessly through the bookstore on base (a favorite tag-along to most of our date nights) and I saw Gretchen's new book on a shelf:  Happier at Home .  I immediately added it to my Christmas list.  And I'm so glad I did!  It's not just for stay-at-home-moms... it's for anyone who has a home.  Which is all of you.

Gretchen says, "Behind our unremarkable front door waits a little world of our own making, a place of safety, exploration, comfort, and love." 

And I love this quote from William Butler Yeats:  "Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that thing, but simply growth.  We are happy when we are growing."

Here are some of the ways she wanted to grow that I want to copy pretty much 100%:

- cultivate a shrine (set up your possessions in a way that makes you smile)
- kiss in the morning, kiss at night (cultivate closeness with your spouse)
- make the positive argument (apply positive thinking to your relationships)
- under-react to a problem (especially with kid-tastrophes)
- enter into the interests of others (try to learn to love the things your family loves)
- give warm greetings and farewells (again, show your family you care)
- resist happiness leeches (don't be a snob, but take care to surround yourself with people who build you up)
- guard my children's free time (I would add, guard my free time as well)
- suffer for fifteen minutes (tackle an unpleasant project for 15 minutes a day and it will be done in no time)
- embrace good smells (our sense of smell is strongly connected to our emotions and memories)
- jump (being silly makes you feel happier!)
- plan nice little surprises (I want to be constantly thinking of small but meaningful blessings for my family)
- be a tourist without leaving home (appreciate your neighbhorhood... easy enough when I live in Germany!)
- practice nonrandom acts of kindness (be real and kind with the "familiar strangers" you see week to week)
- focus on now (be present in each moment of the day... so much easier said than done!)

In her research on her two happy-project books, Gretchen has come up with "Eight Splendid Truths" and these are my four favorites:

- the days are long, but the years are short
- I'm not happy unless I think I'm happy
- the only person I can change is myself
- now is now

I learned so much from Gretchen and I ended the book feeling so energized and excited and HAPPY about my home!  I've already applied quite a few of her great ideas.  And even just thinking more mindfully about our home life has made our home life happier.  It's a great book kids, you should go get it right this second!

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