Author Gretchen Rubin on Her Latest Book, Happier at Home
Gretchen Rubin's follow-up to her bestselling book The Happiness Project was 2012's Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life, which chronicled her attempt to delve further into the realm of happiness, specifically in areas at home.
Courtesy of Dave Cross Photography Gretchen Rubin
The paperback version of Happier at Home was released in December 2013, and Rubin will visit Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe Friday, January 17, to talk about the book and sign copies. Earlier this week Rubin talked with Jackalope Ranch about what inspired her to write about happiness, exploring other storytelling media, and how her books are all related -- even the ones on Winston Churchill and JFK.
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What inspired you to write about the topic of happiness in regard to home?
It was a very inconspicuous event in my life, I was unloading the dishwasher -- a task that I do not particularly like -- and my husband's watching sports in the next room, and my daughters were playing, and all the sudden I had this intense wave of homesickness, which is such a weird thing to feel. Why did I feel like I was going away to summer camp for the first time, when I was standing right the middle of my own kitchen? And it was as if I'd been flash-forwarded 25 years, and was looking back on what I had right now. And that got me to focus on the idea of home for the first time, because I'd been reading and writing about happiness at that point for years, but I'd never looked at it through the lens of home. So many different things related to happiness are really central to home, and just about everybody wants to have a feeling of home. So that got me thinking. I was just immediately enthralled with doing another happiness project, but this time really focusing in on this experience of home.
How long did you spend writing this book?
Between two and three years, but I've been thinking so much about happiness so I had kind of a running start because a lot of the groundwork I'd already done. So I was just doing what I needed to do to take it deeper and go further into the subject.
What do you hope your readers will gain from reading your books?
Well, I always felt that by writing about my own experience it would help people figure out what they would want to do differently in their own lives. You would think that people would get the most help from big scientific studies, or philosophical treatises that talk about all of human nature, but what I found for myself -- and I think is true for most people -- is that it's actually really helpful to read about one person's idiosyncratic attempts to come to grips with these big ideas and put them into action. 'Cause when you see how one person does it, you can kind of compare and contrast your own experience. And somehow one person's story feels like it relates more to you than a story of everyone, which is perhaps counterintuitive. But I think people read my particular own situation, which is idiosyncratic to me, [and they] seem to be able to adjust it for themselves and be able to get ideas for the kinds of the things that they would want to try, fleshing the kinds of things that I tried.