Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rethinking Treats and Other Life Lessons from the Happiness Project

Lately, I’ve been keeping our house a lot cleaner and more organized than usual.  The inspiration came after reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  In the book, Rubin talks about her own efforts to get organized.  Though it’s clear from the start, she’s more naturally inclined to be orderly and organized, some of her tips have helped me tremendously in my quest to have a warm and welcoming home for my family.

One of the things Rubin discusses often and openly in her book, is the concept of treats.  She says that for herself, when she tells herself she deserves a certain treat, the thing she’s indulging in is almost never really a treat. This applies to so many things, a food binge, too much to drink, and  Rubin explains that often if she’s had a really hard day or if she’s feeling really tired she’ll “treat” herself to a night off from chores.

The problem?  Those chores she neglected sit waiting for her to do them.  So, as they pile up - her intended indulgence actually results in more work, more frustration, and less relaxation...the very thing she was trying to accomplish.  This really hit home for me.  I often “treat” myself to an hour, a day, or even a week of not accomplishing a certain task that I find particularly harrowing.  But, the thing is it never actually IS a treat.  A true treat (if I really need or want some time off from a chore) would be to hire a service or a kid in my neighborhood to do it- not neglect it entirely. 

The second thing that really hit home from me is a much simple revelation: if you can’t find something, clean up.  In the day to day, this means that if I have a basket of laundry and I’m looking for a particular shirt, instead of dumping out the pile, I fold it.  You’d be surprised (or at least I was) that it takes just as long to rummage through a pile of laundry ten times looking for something as it does to just fold the pile!  This also means in the broader sense that if day after day I’m struggling to find a dish or a certain spice- it’s time to rethink, rearrange, or pair down.  I know, I know, so simple!  But these few tips have proved extremely helpful for a very, very disorganized person like me.

I’m curious, what tips have helped you to stay orderly and organized?  How do you keep your home a warm and welcoming place to be?


  1. I love this. I've been trying to be more conscious of my efforts around the house. One thing I've found particularly helpful is looking at my schedule for the week and essentially scheduling in when (and what) I will clean and when I will work out...two things that tend to get neglected when I'm busy (or lazy). I've found that if I have planned ahead, I'm more likely to do those things. Also, every morning physically jotting down on paper what I'd like to get done helps. Because I've not made certain chores a weekly habit, I tend to forget about them completely.

    1. Yes, a list has been helpful for me, too. Although for day to day things, I know what needs to be done, it's just a matter of doing it! I've found, though, we have a lot of little projects here and there around the house that we keep saying that we are going to get to but never do! It's important to just get those written down so not only I know what I want to get done, but I also remember to share those things with Lucas!