Because of the subject of my next book, Happier at Home, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about—you guessed it!—how to be happier at home. Here are a few very simple suggestions. These aren’t the most profound things you can do to make your home feel more serene and organized, but they’re steps you can take fairly quickly.
1. Be wary of bargains, sales, hand-me-downs, and give-aways. Do you really need this thing? Or love it? Beware: because of the “endowment effect,” we value things more once we own them. Once that thing enters your home, it will be tough to get it out again.
2. Never label anything “Miscellaneous.”
3. Remember: most decisions don’t require extensive research. Aim to be a satificer, not a maximizer.
4. Don’t let yourself fall into “empty.” Keep cash in the house. Keep gas in your tank. Keep an extra roll of toilet paper squirreled away. Keep your phone charged.
5. Don’t keep excessive amounts of anything. Those glass vases that come from florists. Those ketchup packets that come with take-out food. A house with two adults probably doesn’t need fifteen mismatched souvenir coffee cups.
6. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Lower the bar. Actually spending ten minutes clearing off one shelf is better than fantasizing about spending a weekend cleaning out the basement.
7. Clean while you cook (literally and metaphorically).
8. Put things away in a specific place. It’s much easier to find things later, and it’s oddly satisfying to slot things into their precise places. “Ah, this particular basket on this shelf is the place for the AAA batteries.”
9. Make your bed. I know it sounds trivial, but it’s a bigger happiness booster than you’d expect.
* Hey everyone: a New York City-based production company is looking for people who’ve been inspired to start their own Happiness Projects—and who want to share their stories. Does this describe you? Do you live in the greater NYC/tri-state area? Could you spend a few hours filming, at a convenient time?
If so, email a brief description of yourself, your Happiness Project, and how your life has changed as a result to THNKcasting@radicalmedia.com.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. Gretchen is also on Facebook and Twitter.