Happiness Tidbits From Gretchen Rubin

by Katy on January 22, 2014 · 15 comments

Happier at Home paperback

Although I’m normally averse to accepting wintertime evening invitations, I forced myself to break from my sedentary routine and attend a reading last night by Happier at Home’s Gretchen Rubin. (Even though it was in the suburbs, and I hate venturing from my urban oasis.)

And I’m glad that I did.

Instead of a traditional reading from the fresh new paperback of Happier at Home, Gretchen chose to give what was clearly a smooth and well rehearsed talk about happiness. Of course I took notes. A smart blogger would take advantage of all the sparking ideas to flesh out a dozen new blog posts, but I need to leave for work in an hour, so here are the main points that resonated with me:

  • Happy people have habits that work for them.
  • Anything that broadens or deepens relationships leads to happiness.
  • The days are long but the years are short. <– One of my favorites!
  • Although excessive possessions have a tendency to drag us down, possessions do serve to project our identity into our environment.
  • When choosing what has a place in your home ask yourself these three questions, “Do I love it, do I use it, do I need it?”
  • People often approach Gretchen to ask “What is the key to true happiness?” and although there is no one all encompassing answer, she does believe that self knowledge is a close approximation.
  • Happier people are more altruistic, and unhappy people tend to focus more inwardly on their problems. Although negative emotions play an important role in how to be happier.
  • Allow yourself permission to let go of unfinished projects. Gretchen’s example was to scoop up all the origami paper packets and donate them to her daughter’s school.
  • Ask yourself these questions, “Who do you envy?” and “What do you lie about?”

I wish I had time to flesh out these points, but I know that being fired from my job for excessive tardiness would definitely harsh on my happiness. 😀 So please, share your thoughts and responses to these happiness prompts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn January 22, 2014 at 11:32 am

So nice! Oh, how I wish she would come to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Perhaps in summer, when the temperatures are not below zero at night.


Maureen January 22, 2014 at 2:07 pm

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the line “When choosing what has a place in your home ask yourself these three questions, “Do I love it, do I use it, do I need it?” I’m going to share that one with my sister and mother who live together. They need to start asking themselves these questions rather than buying every cheap product on the market. You would think their house is the “As Seen On TV Store!”


Kailey January 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

The last one that says ‘ask yourself what do you lie about?’ SO INTERESTING! I’ve never thought about anything from that angle before.
I’m also intrigued ‘habits that work for them.’ Is this like working in work outs throughout your day?


Karen January 22, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I also liked to last point, but the who do you envy question captured my attention. I thought about some people I knew and figured out, I might envy someone for their job, or their hair or their husband’s high income. But I did not envy anyone for their entire life. Because if I envied them for one thing they had, I did NOT envy them for something else they had or did not have. Hope this makes sense.


Pollyanna January 22, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I love Gretchen’s books, they are so insightful and give you great nuggets to think about. How I would LOVE to hear her in person, what an opportunity. For me right now, the message about letting go of unfinished projects is speaking to me! I have to — my word for the year (Gretchen’s idea) is LESS — less stuff, less waste, less eating, less worrying, you get the idea!


Megyn January 23, 2014 at 6:38 am

Some very interesting points/questions! I wholly agree with the aspect of your physical possessions projecting identity. The minimalism world would like you to think otherwise, but the book Snoop by Sam Gosling really got me thinking that every little thing down to the way I keep my toothpaste says something about my personality.

As for the point about the 3 questions, I have to disagree with the “is it something that you?” one. As a pro. organizer, that gets tricky. Usually clients “love” too many things. If you quickly ask them that question, they usually say a strong YES! to so many more things that I think those questions are a little too superficial. Humans’ sentimentality screws them over when it comes to stuff, in my opinion.


Megyn January 23, 2014 at 7:10 am

something that you love***


Katy January 23, 2014 at 8:17 am


Interesting point, although I would think that anyone who gets to the point of hiring a professional organizer is not your average person, and more likely to have hoarder-ish tendencies. Although I could be wrong here.


K January 23, 2014 at 8:37 am

I just read this advice somewhere, and the point of the three questions was if you answered “no” to any of them, it should go. I think that’s extreme, but if you really have too much stuff if probably works.


Megyn January 23, 2014 at 9:16 am

Most that hire me are not hoarders. They may be closer to keepers, but I would say everyone I have worked for thus far has more of a typical American house. They seem to be typical American shoppers, which I think is one of the main problems along with being typically sentimental.


Trish January 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

glad to find someone else who doesn’t like to go out of a winter evening! I live way out in the country, at least an hour from St. Louis, and people are always harassing me for my refusal to go out with them. The drive over is one thing, but that long drive home through the frigid country darkness overshadows any fun I may have!


Jean January 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I would definitely have braved a cold winters night to hear Gretchen Rubin. I loved Gretchen’s first book, and just this week ordered “Happier at Home”, and now can’t wait to read it.


Jo@simplybeingmum January 24, 2014 at 10:28 am

I’ve recently embraced letting go of unfinished business. It’s liberating! Lots of project clutter got culled. Phew!


Holly January 24, 2014 at 11:57 am

I was lucky to get to hear Gretchen speak last night in California! She had basically the same talk as you heard, and I loved all the practical advice she offered. Even after reading her blog for years, plus both of her books about happiness, it was great to be reminded of some helpful tips. One slogan of hers that I have really resonated with is “Identify the problem”. When I figure out what the root cause is, it is so much easier to find numerous possible solutions.


Anne January 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I heard her speak last week in Arizona too and it was so fun! Lots of good points and stories especially about feeling free to let go of projects and things that aren’t making you happy. I was re-inspired to clean out my closets and reevaluate what I truly want my home to be like. Thanks for sharing your feelings about the evening!


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