Anyone who knows me knows that I like things to be simple. Regardless of the restaurant (for the most part) I order a cheeseburger first. If they can make a good burger, chances are it is worth it to try a more complicated (read: expensive) item next time. My vehicle purchase only had 2 requirements: 4-wheel drive and 6-cylinder. Granted, I do work from home, but my daily clothing includes the same pair of pants and my favorite sweatshirt.

A friend of mine went back home for the holidays and left his dog with some friends of his. When he returned his dog “Buddy” was obviously not happy with being left that whole time and clearly did not like where he was. After further chatting with my friend, he noted that the house where Buddy was living for the week was in a constant state of chaos. There are 2 other dogs and a cat. There are always dirty dishes in the sink. The homeowners are almost always bickering or yelling across the house to each other. And there is random stuff (clutter) strewn about the home in every room. As you can imagine, this home would be “fingers on a chalkboard” for me.

We all don’t like the same things and we all keep our homes in varying states of order and cleanliness depending on how we like it and the time we’re allotted by “life”. Today the goal is to explore a few ideas about simply being happier at home. While we can all agree that no two people are alike, my hope is that most of these suggestions will appeal to a broad audience. Considering this is an article in the paper, I suppose that should be self-evident. I just don’t always hit the mark! Let’s dig in.

The first item today is in the spirit of Kermit the Frog in that we should go green! I’m not talking about eliminating plastic from your life or starting a local recycling entity. More simply just incorporate some houseplants into your home. Not only is it quite satisfying to keep something alive and see it prosper, there are actual health benefits to keeping plants in your home. Turns out NASA discovered that plants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours. (Maybe you could just plant-sit for a couple days!) Plants and flowers also liven up a room and can even be a highlight of a corner depending on the size and shape of the plant.

I’ll be quick on the clutter front since you’ve all heard it before, but clean up your stuff and put it away. Thrive Global have found a direct link between stress and clutter. De-cluttering leads to eating better, improves air quality and you’ll simply feel better. Beyond the mental and physical health benefits, putting all extraneous stuff in its place makes the area feel larger and more welcoming for your presence and certainly that of your guests. There’s nothing more awkward than visiting a friend’s house and not knowing where (or if) it is OK to sit down.

Another fun and easy way to make yourself happier at home is to put on your creative hat and paint something. It can be as small and simple as a canvas with your own creation on it or as large as painting a whole room or hallway. A good friend of mine (with far more talent than I) actually painted an entire wall white and then, over the course of a few weeks, painted a full mountain/forest scene on that wall. Of course this is not necessarily for everyone, but it certainly makes a statement and (more importantly) makes my friend smile every time he walks into that room.

If you are like me, you tend to procrastinate those little pesky things that need tending to. I had a taillight out on my truck for over a month. If you can believe it, I actually had the silly bulb in my center console the whole time! I just never took the time to swap it out. If there are little fixes around the house, it will increase your happiness to simply tackle them and get them out of your head. Fix the broken knob on the kitchen cabinet. Replace the dimmer switch in the dining room. Tighten up the cabinet door hinge in the bathroom. All of these little annoyances add up and begin to steal your sense of ease. Make a list and head to the hardware store. You’ll feel better, I promise.

Lastly, and one that is a reward in and of itself, is to hire a housecleaner. I’m not suggesting you need to put them on retainer and have them come every week. That could get pricey and start to steal your smile. Just hire a cleaner to do a full clean on the house. “A professional cleaning is one of my favorite indulgences at the house,” notes Badger Realty agent, Maureen Garrette. “It’s not something I do very often, but the satisfaction of time saved and a spotless home is worth every penny,” she continued.

Making your home a happier and more serene place is something I strive towards in a more passive way. I’m not frantically picking up every little item around the house or painting walls every weekend, but I am aware of when the house needs tidying up and, without exception, always feel better when the job is done. I encourage you to pick off a few of these items this weekend and see if you feel more relaxed and happy at home. You (and your dog) will appreciate it!

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