September definitely is the new January. Every year September gives me that new stationery back-to-school feeling and has always felt like a much better time to make resolutions than January. At the end of August this year I decided to spend September to Christmas tackling my health and fitness and am now a month into a new regime of healthy eating, running and personal training (and I gave up alcohol for two months two weeks ago). I am feeling so much better for it. So, I loved the premise of Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin, which starts in September and follows the school year from start to finish.
I really enjoyed reading The Happiness Project earlier this year (see my blog on Happiness) also by Gretchen Rubin, so was really looking forward to reading Happier at Home. Whilst a lot of insights were similar, I still found it packed full of nuggets that really spoke to me. She has already really influenced the way I’ve been looking at my life and helped me figure out what I really want (a life in the countryside with dogs and the benefits of London mid-week) instead of what I think I should want (to still be living in central London and be out having cocktails until 3am every weekend). So what follows are a number of ideas and reflections that particularly chimed with me.
- Driving lessons – so many people I know in their mid to late 30s are struggling with learning to drive. Next year I have resolved to re-learn, not having driven for many years, and to get used to driving again. Then I can make the most of living in the countryside and share the driving with Drew. I therefore really enjoyed her description of overcoming her fear of driving and her revelation that she didn’t have to love driving, she just didn’t want to hate it.
- Descriptions of afternoon adventures in New York reminded me how much I liked pottering around a foreign city on my own and I’ve vowed to do it again soon.
- How hugely thankful I am for my friendships.
- The ‘fake it until you feel it’ strategy really works – it’s always been a really successful strategy for me of overcoming challenges.
- Entering into other people’s interests is an important way of showing respect and affection – I love that Drew always knows the latest Arsenal news, and through being politely interested at first I have developed a genuine enjoyment of Formula 1.
- For some people (including me) it’s actually easier to abstain completely than to indulge moderately.
- Throwing away favourite tops that now have holes in them – the importance of not waiting to buy clothes until I am the size I want to be, or I may be waiting forever.
- Tiggers and Eeyores – when they come together Tiggers become more insistently cheery and Eeyores become more negative to resist the other’s influence and in a frustrating cycle they oppose and exhaust each other. Being a Tigger I really struggle with this.
- Having an overarching theme for the whole year – for me this year was new job and next year is moving.
- When people get interrupted it takes 15 minutes to regain lost concentration and they then work faster to make up for lost time, making them feel harried and frustrated. I realised this is why I really benefit from a day a week working from home.
- Paying close attention to any flame of enthusiasm. You do best what comes naturally and make quick and steady progress. If you aren’t really interested in something you won’t do a good job and you won’t stick to it.
Whilst I have taken to ebooks like a duck to water, for me this is their biggest problem – I can’t lend this book to friends and family and I very much wish I could.
I very regularly feel (always when walking outside and often when the sun is shining) how very lucky I am and how much I love my life. So I entirely agreed with Gretchen Rubin when she finished the book with ‘How breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day.’