Picture your home and your life as a river, rather than a lake. It flows over time. If you don’t block the flow, it will always be fresh. You don’t even have to stay where you are. You can follow the flow to another place. You can even choose if you want a slow-flowing wide river, a splashing stream, or a rushing waterfall.
- You can choose what flows into your house. You can have things stay for as long as you wish. If you feel that you have to keep gifts even if they are not useful or beautiful for you, ask your friends and family to give you the gift of time together instead. You can go our to lunch or to a show together rather than unwrapping a vase. If you don’t want to spend time with them, maybe you would not feel bad about donating the unwanted gift. Why pick up that free pen/flashlight/kitten? Because it’s free? Remember, whatever it is, you will have to find a place for it and take care of it.
- You can choose who enters your house and your life, and for how long. Fill your life with those people who bring you happiness and make you a better person. We all have only 24 hours in a day. Why not spend most of it with the people we care most about?
- You can choose what you do in your house and your life. If you are spending much of your time out of a sense of obligation, you won’t have enough time to reflect on what you need, and what you really want to accomplish. This means that others are setting your priorities for you. What is really important to you? Do that first!
Photo Credit: Connor395
I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.
I hesitate to use the word minimalist to describe myself. I have never counted my possessions, I don’t live in a tiny house, and I don’t make my own laundry detergent. In a way, I don’t feel that I live up to the examples that many have set for a minimalist life. These examples are inspiring, though. I do have a secret dream of living in a house made from recycled shipping containers with a view of the ocean like Carlana’s and this one, but for now, my life will not support this goal.
The core values of focusing on the people, activities and things that bring you joy and fulfilment, and eliminating those that do not, are the same. Reducing the clutter in my house has brought me a shocking amount of happiness. I only wish I knew this sooner. Reducing or eliminating the time I spend on activities that are done out of guilt or the desire to please everyone has brought even more happiness. Choosing to spend time with people who are moving towards their own dreams has been the best part of all.
Fortunately, we don’t need to live under a label, and there is room for every shade of simplicity.
What’s your dream?
Photo Credit: One Cool Habitat
I was sitting around a bonfire with friends last night, and we were all recounting the week at work. Everyone in the group works hard, does their job well, and tries to treat people kindly. Every one of us, however, was struggling with people who make that difficult.
You know the ones:
- The one who never gets the job done, and always has someone or something to blame.
- The one who always seems on board with a plan in the meeting, and then does what suits them best, leaving the rest of the group to deal with the fallout.
- The one who has nothing but bad things to say about others.
- The one that puts things off until there is a crisis, and then tries to get you help them make the deadline.
- The one who is always outraged by something the boss did, and wants you to be angry with them.
Clearly, work is the important thing to focus on, not the drama. How can you change focus without seeming unsympathetic to your co-workers?
You don’t have to be friends with everyone at work. If you try, you might find that you are working harder to be liked than you are at your actual job. A key strategy to accomplish this is to take one small emotional step back.
You can simplify your job (like your agenda and your shopping) by changing your focus:
- Be Aware. Take note of those who always leave you feeling resentful or sap your energy. When they are gone, think about why. This will give you some perspective when the angry one comes with tales of outrage, or the procrastinator tries to get you to help with their overdue project. If you can give yourself even a few seconds before you respond, you could avoid getting caught up in the emotions completely.
- Avoid. You can make an excuse or pick up the phone when you see them coming.
- Avert. You can just listen with a neutral face.
They might not come back.
- Acknowledge. You can say something to show that you understand their pain, and regret your powerlessness to make it better.
- Resources (Is there an “A” word for this?)
Interested in identifying and avoiding manipulators?
Interested in avoiding complainers? Here is a whole book about that.
Want to be more focused at work? Try this.
Seth Godin writes about focus quite a bit on his blog.
Ever go to the grocery store because you are hungry and there’s nothing to eat at your house? Have you ever wandered the aisles in a daze and randomly put things in the basket?
Ever go to the store resolved to buy only whole, healthy food, only to toss it away weeks later when it gets slimy in the veggie bin?
Related: What did I do wrong to deserve this gloppy frozen dinner food?
Don’t do that. The grocery store is designed to get you to do stay a long time, travel down every row, and buy what they offer you. They put the veggies, bread, milk and meat in the back and sides of the store, as far apart as possible, so you will walk past the ice cream, the deli and the picnic basket display.
Plan what you will eat. Think about your schedule, and each meal you need to make.
Go to the store alone, if possible. Don’t stay any longer than necessary. This means you should avoid shopping on Saturday afternoon, unless you can’t live without free samples (see below.)
Bring a calculator. Figuring out which size is the best deal is why you took algebra.
Go to the store armed with a list, and stick to it. If you read the circulars first, you can save money by planning your meals around the sales. If you don’t worry about the prices, just plan your meals based on whatever you like, but buy only what you will really use.
Use your pantry and freezer to their best advantage (besides holding ice cream.)
One more thing:
Don’t go to the store and hang out at the end of each row to sample all the food while leaving your cart in the aisle. No, it’s OK for you to eat everything, but quit blocking my way to the coffee aisle.
Photo Credit: The Consumerist
Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. —William Morris
One of the most powerful ways you can begin to simplify your life and make room for the things that are really important is to build your surroundings to support your needs and reflect your priorities. But for most of us, our home is either designed around convention or by habit, where things just sort of evolve. Yes, some people even have new ecosystems developing under the stacks of their life’s artifacts.
Maybe your bedroom has become a gym/family room/office/closet, and you get no rest when you climb into bed at night.
This exercise could help:
- First, leave the room. Go somewhere where you can’t see into the room, and where you can take a few moments to think. Maybe this is at the coffee place down the block.
- Next, write down everything you use this room for. You can use this form. Or print a form and write it out by hand. The most important things: Be honest, and no peeking!
- Then, write down everything you need to have in the room to support these activities. Make sure to include furniture, lighting, tools, outlets, internet or cable connections.
- Now, start again. Use the second column for this. Write down everything you WANT to use this room for, and only those things. List the items you need for these activities.
When you go back into the room, what is in there? Magazines you didn’t get around to reading? Declare amnesty and recycle them. Clothes that no longer fit? Donate them to an organization that desperately need them.
If there are items supporting things that you must do (for example printer paper on the counter, when you don’t want to do office work in your kitchen), find a place dedicated to that activity elsewhere.
Did any other activities occur to you when you went back to the room? If the answer is yes, this is a message. If they were important enough to deserve space, you would have listed them. You can choose to make them important, or let them go.
This is a simple way to find what is important to you, and what is not important, but is lurking in your life. You can use the exercise for every room, or start with one small corner of your home that you can use as a retreat.