Why a Clean Closet Makes You Happy: 9 Questions For Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin authored the No. 1 New York Times and international bestseller The Happiness Project — an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. A Yale Law School graduate, she recognized her calling as a writer while clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. She lives in New York with her husband and two daughters.


1. What gives you a sense of purpose?

Building a loving home for my family and researching and writing my books and blog.

2. What personality trait have you had to work on in yourself (if any)?

I’m very irritable and snappish, so I try to be more patient, light-hearted, and easy-going.

3. What are your 5 favorite foods to eat right now?

Greek yogurt, Greek salad, frozen blueberries, beef jerky, and Tasti-D-Lite (a kind of frozen dessert that is sold in NYC).

4. What is your most effective strategy for managing stress?

Getting enough sleep.

5. Is there a figure you admire or find inspiring (either historical or currently living)?

St. Therese of Lisieux, Winston Churchill, Julia Child, Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Virginia Woolf.

6. How do you stay connected with other people?

I’m in four book groups, three writer’s groups, and a group related to my daughter’s class. I love groups!

7. What do you think is the secret to longevity?

Being active, not smoking, and seeing friends.

8. What book are you reading right now?

Memories, Dreams, Reflections by, Carl Jung. I’m re-reading it for the third time.

9. If you could give one piece of advice to people, what would it be?

Be yourself.

“One of my great realizations about happiness is that for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should. After all, in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet is trivial. And yet over and over, people tell me, and I certainly find this, myself, that creating order gives a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity. So I’m a big believer in the value of clutter-clearing.”

Watch for Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life, September 2012.

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