When I received my advance copy of Gretchen Rubin’s new happiness project Happier at Home I was psyched. Rubin’s first book was a beautifully organized manifesto on creating happiness in every area of life. Methodically, she tested theories, research and hypotheses to cultivate her own happiness commandments, credos and resolutions. Utterly approachable, she created happiness rubrics by way of new habits and the self-awarding of gold-stars for everyday she was able to abide by her personal agreements. I identified with the epiphany she had on a city bus that she was content but could be happier. Her life was meandering by like the rain soaked pavement. Life was FINE (Feelings Inside Not Expressed). I interviewed Rubin before the first book came out for an article in Forbes.com, and something she said that stuck with me was this: “To be happy, you need to consider feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.” To me, this meant forward movement was an essential component, a sensation even, to happiness. All the efforts to create more happiness, in and of themselves, foster that atmosphere of growth. All of a sudden, you’re an active participant in your life.
In Happier at Home, Rubin sets her sights on her home. “Home is the center of our lives,” she writes, “for good or for ill.” I’ve lived in the same home for eleven years, in New York years, that’s like approximately 22. I’ve lived in my apartment for as long as I lived in the house I grew up in (into which we moved when I was 7!) I LOVE our apartment. But, after so much time, and all the memories and energy it holds, the old girl could use some TLC. So, as I read the book, and implement Rubin’s happy home resolutions, I’ll blog about it here.
September is dedicated to “possessions.” And the first resolution: Cultivate a Shrine
We recently sent a whole bunch of stuff to my parents house in New Jersey so many of our shrines have been dismantled. We had a book shrine, a collection of books spanning two bookcases and many stacks on top of those that sat nicely on the shelves. The bookcases held books from my husband’s catalogue as well as my own. Looking around our apartment, and bearing in mind our efforts to stay clutter-free, I find the only suitable space for a shrine is my workspace.
Rubin creates a shrine to family and a shrine to work. I could create a shrine to work, especially since I’m cultivating a new work life. I recently bought a new computer that feels so unencumbered by old files and back-up contingencies and who knows what mucking up the cogs she’s as flexible as a baby that can touch her ear with her foot. I don’t want a lot of chackas sitting around collecting dust. I already have enough piles of papers, books, journals, bills, and notebooks…
…by George…I think I’ve got it.
Perhaps my shrine should be one of organization. My offering to my work is decluttering. There is a file cabinet next to my desk that had so much paper in it that I am grateful for a particularly thick bill because I can shove it in there with more success than a flimsy single piece of paper. My offering to my work is clarity by way of cleanliness. I resolve to clean out that file cabinet, eliminating the multiple copies of the novels I’d worked on, the old bills and statements…and if that’s all I can think of that might be in there, I am sure there’s a whole lotta crap that I am sure I never thought I would find. In her book, Rubin talks about a book weight that holds a book open to a particular page so you can copy your notes. She loves how perfectly suited it is for its job. Its handiness became apparent to me as I started to reference her book, while trying to type at the same time. I would like one of those. Maybe I will find one as part of my Shrine to Work. First resolution is taking shape. Shrine to Work initiative is underway. Rubin’s next resolution is go “Shelf by Shelf.” Back soon with more on that.