6 Ways You Can Be Happier at Home … Right Now

Happy has a surprisingly bad reputation.

“There’s an assumption that people find happy people offputtingly chirpy,” says Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The Happiness Project and now, Happier at Home, which hit the bestseller list at number two on September 12. “But studies show that people are drawn to happy people. Happy people make better leaders and teammates.”

Is it selfish to want to be happy? No way, Rubin says. Happy people not only spread good vibes, but do good deeds. And since home is where we base our lives, why not start there?

According to Rubin, who was on the North Shore to speak at the Winnetka Women’s Exchange on September 19, it doesn’t take a mansion to make you happy.

“I don’t think becoming fabulously wealthy will take you to a ten and being poor won’t take you to a one,” Rubin says. “People adapt to negative or positive. I’m not sure that external conditions are that tied to happiness.”

So if money and mansions won’t make you happy, what will? Here are six things Rubin advises you can do right now to get a happiness boost for you and your family.

1. Sing in the morning. Wake your kids up singing “good morning, sunshine” or a ditty you create. Who cares if you’re off key? Your happy tune sets the tone for the day.

2. Give warm welcomes and farewells. Rubin noticed that family came and went, noted only by a grunt from someone who refused to look up from an iPad. Instead, stand up and kiss your spouse hello. Perk up and act happy to see your kids. Remember another of Rubin’s adages: Act the way you want to feel. And pretty soon, you’ll feel it for real.

3. Embrace good smells. Smell the coffee, smell the roses—no cost, no calories, just pleasure.

4. Get enough sleep. You might think you are functioning on four or five hours of sleep a night. News flash: You’re not; and you’re probably cranky. Step away from the Internet and get at least seven hours of sleep tonight.

5. Put something purple in every room. “That is me being whimsical,” Rubin laughs. “Other friends said it should have been orange or red.” No matter the shade—put something unexpected in each room of your house, to make it personal.

6. Keep stuff, selectively. Rubin is not about simplifying for the sake of simplifying. Instead, she says, “For most people, possessions have a role to play in a happy life.” Rubin advises spotlighting mementos that are full of memories. But if, like her, you’re hanging on to a half-used tube of Orajel as a baby memory? Keep something else that represents that era, like a sippy cup—and dump the Orajel.