Journey to bliss paved with discipline
Gretchen Rubin, a 40-year-old living in New York, gave herself 12 months to improve her life.
Her book Happier at Home is an account of her "happiness project", focusing on the concept of "home".
You might struggle, as I did, to cope with her American approach, not least a vocabulary rich in such psychobabble as "mindful" and "experience" . Yet underneath are nuggets of good sense.
"You spend most of your life at home. You may as well make it the happiest place you can," she reasons.
Here is Rubin's guide to domestic bliss.
Rubin starts with redecorating the "self", which requires a spot of housekeeping - in the form of decluttering.
"Outer order contributes to inner calm. If you get rid of everything you don't need, like or use then you're probably going to be happier."
Her theory that messy areas stay messy while clear areas stay clear is backed by research suggesting that throwing away unwanted items could diminish housework by up to 40%.
So far so good, particularly if, like Rubin, you have a husband who is tidy. But what if you share your house with a Neanderthal?
She recommends setting aside a room or area for them to leave their mess in, preferably somewhere you can close the door.
Next step is to reorder all those possessions you treasure in a way that allows you to engage with them. If something is important to you, create a meaningful space for it, Rubin says.
"We can all feel trapped by the possessions we love. You have to figure out an inspiring way to deal with them - start small."
GET SOME SLEEP
"If you're just too tired to do anything except watch television, then go to sleep," she orders.
Once we are disciplined about going to bed - Rubin is now "addicted" to early nights - we will feel more in control of our experience of home.
KNOW YOUR NATURE
To help meet our goals, whatever they may be, Rubin introduces the "abstainer/moderator" rule.
It categorises us into two groups: abstainers are those who must avoid any guilt-inducing indulgence, while moderators are the few who have the willpower to enjoy half a brownie.
"The more honest you can be about what makes you happy, the more you make your home reflect that. It's got to be based on your own nature," she says. - ©The Daily Telegraph