By Gretchen Rubin
Even though I haven’t been in school for a long time, for me, September marks the beginning of a new year. Orange is the new black, breakfast is the new lunch, Monday is the new Thursday, pork is the other white meat, and September is the other January. (And yes, it’s still September, even though most schools start in August nowadays—and of course, this is true only in certain parts of the world.)
January is the official start of the new year, and I always get a burst of renewed zeal at that time, but here in the United States, for me, September also gives the same feeling of an empty calendar and a clean slate. The air seems charged with possibility and renewal.
Back-to-school is a time of self-evaluation and reflection—and also a time when I feel the urge to clean out my office.
Because of the new year feeling of September, when I wanted to do a a happier-at-home project, I decided to start it in September.
So many of the elements of a happy life come together in the idea of home: marriage and parenthood, in my case, though certainly not in everyone’s case; time; possessions; body; neighborhood; and, perhaps most enigmatically, the idea of now. I wanted to set aside a time to focus on the aspects of my life, to try to be as happy as I could be.
If you’re thinking about doing a happiness project yourself, or you want to work on your habits, now is always the best time to start—but if you do like to pick a particularly auspicious time, September is a good one. Think about it! From September to May, in one school year, you could take some steps to boost your happiness.
Summer is over, and the fall brings fresh beginnings and new possibilities. Now is now.
This feeling of beginning is a good time to start new habits; we can take advantage of the Strategies of the Clean Slate and First Steps to tackle our habits. In Better Than Before, my book about habit-formation, these two strategies are in the section on “The Best Time To Begin.”
Do you feel inspired to turn over a new leaf in September? Or is this just me? (For readers in other zones, please substitute your beginning-of-school-year time. The same principle applies.)
About the Author
Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential writers on the linked subjects of habits, happiness, and human nature. She’s the author of many blockbuster New York Times bestselling books, including The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide, in more than thirty languages. On her award-winning podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she shares insights, strategies, stories, and tips that help people understand themselves and create happier lives.