Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you’ll have heard, or know someone that keeps a happiness journal. Similar to a diary, a happiness journal is your own private space where you can explore and understand your own mind, your feelings and emotions, which ultimately leads to a happier life.
However, if you haven’t done anything like this before, it can be difficult to know where to begin, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know in order to start your very own happiness journal, allow you to start a new chapter in your life.
Choosing a Personal Space
You can start your happiness journal any way you like and feel comfortable with. You might like to go out or search online for a dedicated notebook. You might like to start out on a Word document. You might like a mixture of both.
However you want to start, you need to make sure that you feel comfortable and can easily express yourself in the best way that you know how.
1. Write for gratitude.
One of the biggest problems we face in our everyday lives is the fact that we don’t appreciate the things we have. We’re constantly subjected to the media and advertisements showing us what we don’t have but what we do ‘need’, such as a new house, car, holiday or gadget.
However, in your journal, try and start each entry with a list of three things that you’re grateful for each day, whether that’s the birds singing, the music on your Spotify playlist, a friend or even dinner on your table.
2. Write for quality.
Of course, you can write any way that you see fit and are comfortable with writing. However, aiming to write quality and detail will be far more beneficial to your well-being. Even if you’ve only written a paragraph (a few sentences) but you’ve explored a feeling deeply that you’ve been subject to for a while, this is much better for your mind that a list of 50 vague items.
3. Write about your day.
Since you’ll want to try writing in your journal every day, it’s only natural that you’ll want to write about the things that happened. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only writing about the bad things that have happened.
“While this is good for venting and getting it all off your mind, it’s far better for your happiness if, for every bad or negative thing that you write, you also write a positive thing. This is a great way to show yourself that not everything is bad, it’s just a case of your own perspective,” shares Sarah Cattle, a writer for Assignment Help.
Writing the Perfect Happiness Journal
While most of us write in some form or another every single day, the actual skill of being able to write may still elude us. However, there are many online tools you can use to improve your writing skills, allowing you to express yourself properly;
Cite It In; Word Counter: These are two free online tools to help you format your happiness journal entries, or for setting daily word count goals.
Essayroo; Assignment Help: As reviewed in Australian Help review, these are two writing services that can teach you the necessary skills to help you write accurate, error-free sentences.
The longer and more regular that you write in your happiness journal, the more likely you are to fill the benefits. Ideally, you’re going to want to write in it once a day, but that doesn’t matter if you only do it for ten minutes a day, you’ll still start to feel happier.
Try creating a ritual for when you write to make it easy to form the habit. You could write as soon you as wake up, or the last thing you do before you go to bed.
For those of you who believe that you don’t have time to write in a journal, consider how many hours a day you spend on social media, and you’ll soon be able to find the time. However, if you’re truly finding it difficult, even starting to write once a week and then, over time, increasing that to several times a week, can be a huge step in the right direction.
Most of the time, I’m not very good at decisions. I get stuck wanting to find the best option, and don’t want to settle for one that’s just good enough. When there are 37 different things to choose from on Amazon, this can be hard.
I get paralyzed from too many options and end up not making a decision at all. And from what I’ve read, I’m not alone in this.
Barry Schwartz illustrates this idea in his book, The Paradox of Choice. He discusses a study in which researchers set up two displays of jams in a food store. One display had six choices, the other had 24. They found that 30% of the customers exposed to the six choices bought a jar. While only 3% exposed to the 24 choices did the same.
This isn’t the only study that has such findings either. I guess we all need to take the saying “variety is the spice of life,” with a grain of salt.
Too many choices can be detrimental. That’s why simplifying your life can feel so good. It’s why you hear about people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs wearing the same thing every day.
Decluttering Daily Decisions
When little decisions we make each day have too many options, it’s draining. So what can we do? Simplifying little areas of your life can be a great start. Here are seven areas to consider:
1. Your closet.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a smaller wardrobe to choose from. I’m definitely not like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg- I still enjoy having some options. But, when I have fewer clothing choices, I find I’m more creative and happier with what I choose to wear.
2. What you eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Daniel Gilbert, who wrote Stumbling on Happiness, eats the same breakfast every Sunday. When people ask him what is the key to happiness, this is his answer. More specifically, it’s what he eats. Which is fresh tortillas and raw jalapeños, but that’s not the point. The point is that variety can actually make you less happy, not more, as he covers in his book.
He says variety should only be in things we enjoy thinking about. And for him, thinking about breakfast doesn’t bring him much pleasure.
3. Your beauty routine.
Whether you are a guy or a girl, there are probably certain areas of your beauty routine that can be eliminated. Maybe you have too many choices of perfume/cologne, lipstick, eye shadow, hair products, etc. Having 10 eye shadow pallets is not doing anything for you. Cut down to the few you use often, and I bet you’ll be happier.
4. Your purchases.
Stick with what you usually buy. When I let myself consider too many alternatives, it makes me second guess the decision I end up making. Even if I like my choice. The “maximizer” in me keeps thinking there may have been a better alternative. So, try to stop looking for better options. If you like what you usually get, stick with it, and don’t worry about what you will be missing out on by doing so. Fear of missing out can be a doozy.
5. Your morning or evening routine.
We often do the same things every day when we get up and before we go to sleep. Is there something that isn’t necessary that you can eliminate? Also, if you don’t already, try doing these things in the same order every day, that way you don’t have to think about it.
6. Your bills.
Is there something you are paying every month that isn’t necessary? Maybe you have Netflix and Hulu. Do you watch them both? Also, if you haven’t already, put your bills on autopay. That’s one less thing that can come up in your day that you’ll have to make a decision about.
7. Your time.
Yep, simplify your time. As in only doing one thing at a time. I’m a big proponent of this, and not just because I’m a bad multitasker! You will increase your focus and cut down on decisions from having to switch back and forth.
It’s possible you already do some of these, or other things throughout your day, that cut down on decisions. Maybe even without realizing it. For example, I have a favorite coffee cup, and that’s the one I drink from every day. It’s a simple little area of my daily routine that I don’t have to think about.
And by the way, do you enjoy thinking about what you will make for breakfast? If a certain area like this brings you happiness, don’t feel the need to simplify in that regard. We’re trying to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Pick the areas that will work best for you.
Also, I want to point out that variety is not always bad. In fact, it can be quite good and without it, life would be boring. But, as with most things in life, too much is not a good thing.
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Think back to the last time you were immersed in nature. Maybe you can feel your toes wiggling in the sand, or the fresh mountain air against your skin. Perhaps you can sense the warmth of the sun’s rays, smell the fragrant foliage in the morning dew, or hear the pleasant crunch of leaves and twigs underfoot.
As you conjure this image, try to tap back into your emotional state too. Chances are good that you were feeling more happy than fearful, more peaceful than anxious, and more connected than withdrawn.
But why? What is it about spending time in nature that seems to set us right again? And perhaps a bigger question, why do we still get such little outdoor time in our modern life?
Spending More Time in Nature
It’s been estimated by the EPA that the average American spends 93% of their time indoors. Between the hours clocked at home, at the office, and in the car, collectively we spend less than one half day out of every week, outside. With our modern obsession with work and productivity, these numbers may not be surprising, but now scientists are trying to shore up the link between this dismal 7% of our lives spent outside, and our state of overall discontent.
Neuroscientists in the U.S. and the U.K. are using portable EEG units to measure how our brains respond to different environments, and so far they’re noticing a sizable difference between brain activity when walking in nature vs. walking through a crowded street.
Frontal lobe activity decreases when we stroll through a park, and our brain’s alpha waves (associated with a calm, but alert state) increase. David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, has demonstrated that just three days of nature immersion is enough to “clean the mental windshield,” rebooting our overstimulated brains to reclaim our cognitive abilities and emotional equilibrium.
Experiencing Happiness in Nature
Humans have long intuitively known that being outside is a boon to health—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Poets of yesteryear sung praises to the towering trees, the rushing rivers, and the majestic mountains. However, today’s human seems to be suffering from an “epidemic dislocation from the outdoors,” as dubbed by Florence Williams, author of the book The Nature Fix.
We’re spending an increasing amount of time inside, often in a sedentary position in front of some kind of screen, and it’s disastrous for our personal health and our sense of community.
Researchers have noted that, after just an hour in the wilderness, our brains respond in kind, pumping out happy hormones, and neurochemicals that work to reduce blood pressure, tamp down pain levels, and promote what we call “prosocial” behavior.
These cooperative, compassionate behaviors are pertinent to our survival, helping us bond with others through increased empathy and a reduced separation between the concepts of “self” and “other.” So, if you’re in a fight with a loved one, or stuck in a miscommunication with a coworker, a walk through the forest may be just what the doctor ordered.
The Japanese Practice of Forest Bathing
In Japan, the practice of “forest bathing” is thought to be an antidote to the overstressed but under-engaged brain. In a modern work/life environment, we typically only use two or three of our senses at a time.
Forest bathing, in contrast, is a full sensory experience, allowing us to expand our use of our neural networks in a sort of technicolor meditation. And the results are compelling: nature immersion reduces heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, while boosting levels of immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells, important in fighting cancer. The Japanese believe so strongly in the medicinal powers of nature, that they’ve already created nearly 50 forest bathing trails.
More and more countries are catching on to the link between nature time and the health of their citizens. In Finland, in a fight against depression and anxiety, public health officials have recommended that people get a minimum of 5 hours of nature time.
Other cities, like Singapore and Stockholm, are investing in more greenspace, smattering more trees, parks, and greenbelts among the concrete and brick. Proximity to nature, even in an urban environment, has been shown to reduce crime rates, as well as risk factors for nearly 15 different diseases!
The Benefits of Time in Nature
While there is still much that we don’t know about our intimate link to the natural world, the positive effects are undeniable. And unlike many drugs, the dose curve for outdoor time doesn’t follow a bell-curve; a little bit of nature is a good thing, and even more nature is an even better thing.
The best part of this is, we don’t need to alter our lives dramatically, in order to see beneficial changes. Just being around living greenery, like houseplants, can help, and a short 15 minute stroll through a natural area is enough to show measurable biochemical changes. But if you want to go for the gold, chose an activity that includes the magical trifecta of wellbeing: outdoor time, spontaneous play, and social engagement.
People underestimate the healing powers of nature, especially when it comes to happiness and life satisfaction. But our culture is slowly changing. We’re realizing that things like shopping and watching television don’t give us lasting joy, and perhaps a regular dose of sun and sand is more beneficial over the long term.
After all, humans evolved in nature. Now is our chance to reclaim our connection to the wilderness, and finally find true nourishment for mind, body, and soul.
I’ve decluttered and simplified a lot of the physical things in my life. Yet, when someone asks me how I’m doing, I find myself replying, “busy!”
I have the all-too-common problem of filling my schedule with things. Things I think I should do, things I feel obligated to do, things that I actually should do, all kinds of things. Most of which, are not that important. Before I know it, I’m busy, rushing, and overwhelmed with mental clutter.
When I get in this mindset, I even find myself feeling anxious when I take time to read and relax. I’m worried that I’m not being productive, and stress about what I should be doing instead.
I have a 13 month old little boy and he adds a crazy amount of happiness to my life. But, having a little one can also exasperate this tendency to always be rushing. He demands most of my attention, after all. Which means less time to do other things.
Yet, how great of a reminder are kids to stop piling so many things into our schedules? They simply enjoy living in the moment. He even smiles and dances when I sing. I’ll tell you right now, no adult is going to do that. I want to enjoy my time with him more, not be thinking about the ‘tasks’ that I’m not getting done.
Also, I’ll just say, I enjoy being productive. I love crossing things off my list and getting things done. It’s much harder for me to slow down than to speed up. Apparently, this time-urgency is common for type-A personalities like myself. But, it’s something I would like to fix. When I’m rushing about, I’m not enjoying the moment.
The busy, head swimming feeling is overwhelming, stressful, and can make me lose focus of the joys in life.
How to Take Back Your Time
Maybe you can identify with this. Do you find yourself busy and overwhelmed with everything you need to do? What can we do to stop and take back our time? Enjoy our lives more. Do the things we love. Just slow down.
I’m going to start with the following five ways:
1. Prioritize three important tasks to get done each day.
This will help me be a little more strategic about my daily schedule. Prioritizing three items will make me focus on what is most important. It will also keep me from doing a bunch of little tasks that don’t accomplish much. Do you ever look back on days and feel like you haven’t gotten anything done? I know I do.
2. Focus on one thing at a time.
Focus is so important when it comes to productivity and a clear mind. Yet, I constantly find myself attempting to multitask. I start a project and then jump to another before I’ve even finished the first. Suddenly, I have three things going at once and I feel like I’m treading water.
3. Be more present with one thing each day.
That might be my morning cup of coffee or playtime with my son. Rushing and busyness is a habit. By choosing to be completely present for a short while, I am breaking that habit.
4. Be more realistic about what I can get done in a certain timeframe.
I have a tendency to overestimate what I can accomplish. Doing so leads to busyness, rushing, and lower-quality work.
5. Stop opening so many tabs on my internet browser.
I know this might seem like it’s out of place. But, it’s something I struggle with. I leave tabs open in my browser for “when I have time.” Before I know it, I have 25 articles I want to read.
While having these “to read” items doesn’t necessarily make me want to rush, it does add mental clutter. This makes me lose focus and get into that busy mindset.
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”
— Francine Jay
I love this quote. It’s something I want to strive towards more in my daily life. Before piling things into my schedule, I want to stop and take a moment to think. Is this something that I actually need to do? Will it add value to my life? Will I be working towards the person I want to be?
It’s so easy to get carried away with everything going on in our day to day lives. Think about what you’ve been busy with lately and what you have stressed over. I know when I do this I find it’s often trivial things.
So, besides the above five steps, I’m going to take the time to step back and recognize what I am ‘busy-ing’ myself with. It may be an ongoing battle, but it will be a step in the right direction.
If you recently discovered decluttering, you probably also discovered the joy and freedom it can bring. After reading books, watching YouTube clips, and signing up to online courses, you did a phenomenal job of simplifying your belongings.
Perhaps it took months or even years to get to where you are now. Or maybe you just finished The Mins game. Whatever your level of decluttering and the length it took, the hype of finishing it is over, and you might be left feeling a bit lost.
This is a common experience after taking on such a big and often life-changing task. Your journey was likely difficult, emotional and rewarding, all at once.
The aftermath of a big declutter in 2016 left me feeling raw. Happy, but raw. I felt elated and exhausted all at once. But most of all, I wondered what the heck I should be doing next? Fairly new to the concepts of minimalism and mindful living, I had to make a conscious choice to keep the momentum going.
Life After Decluttering
Decluttering can be rewarding but also leave as exhausted and asking, what next? Here are some steps to help you maintain a simpler, more intentional life:
1. Celebrate your victory.
A step worth taking but often missed. Go ahead and do something to celebrate your achievement. Acknowledge the hard work you did both physically and emotionally to pare down to what you have now. Throw a party in your newfound minimal digs or simply take yourself on a coffee date and spend a few mindful moments patting yourself on the back.
2. Give yourself a break.
Ensure that you’ve given yourself a breather. Downtime to recover from such a big task. I guarantee you have a big dose of decision fatigue by now so put things on automate as much as possible and put your feet up. Give your brain a the rest it deserves.
3. Remember that decluttering is never done for good.
This is particularly true for those of us with families. It’s simply impossible to control every item each family member brings into the home. But you can start to put some boundaries and rules in place. Perhaps you could employ the ‘touch it once’ rule. Remember that free items might not be as ‘free’ as initially thought! That casserole dish you accepted from your great grandmother may cost you mental space and time in the future. Or perhaps you need a sign for your letterbox so you don’t have junk mail piling up on your kitchen bench.
4. Understand the truth about physical decluttering.
Decluttering your belongings is often the starting point for many people who have chosen to seek a slower, simpler life. Perhaps you need a digital declutter too.
5. Develop an ongoing strategy.
Spend some time considering what you need to enforce so that you don’t let history repeat itself. Maybe you need to consider a shopping ban? I strongly recommend asking yourself why you decided to declutter in the first place. Your purpose or why may have got lost lost on the way. Find your why again and let it lead your strategy. Perhaps your why was so you could spend more time with loved ones. Every time you consider purchasing something ask yourself if the thing your are buying (or the time you need to work to pay for it) will take you away from time spent with loved ones.
6. Write about your journey.
This may help you work through some of the raw emotions that came up, particularly if you were dealing with sentimental items. Writing about your decluttering will likely serve as a cathartic and enlightening process and give you some closure to this part of your journey so you can move on to the next step.
7. Embark on a creative mission.
Note I haven’t said ‘get a hobby’ here. Sometimes getting a new hobby sounds overwhelming, but choosing to do something creative everyday is far more achievable. We are all creative beings with something to offer the world. After a big decluttering journey you likely have some spare time due to the lack of organizing and cleaning you now need to do. So why not dedicate this new found freedom to creating something.
8. Use your freedom to explore the world.
Perhaps you have decluttered enough that you can use that extra time or money traveling? But even if you didn’t quite get to tiny home status then simply explore your local environment. Walk outside barefoot and use your free time to notice things you’ve never seen before.
9. Help and encourage others.
Your friends and family have likely watched your journey with a mixture of amazement and envy. Perhaps their homes are bursting at the seams and they have no idea where to begin. Well, you do. So go forth and teach them. You don’t have to be the resident psychologist on Hoarders to show them the joy in decluttering. Lead by example and be available for questions.
And above all, relish in that deep joy and freedom that can come when we let go of the things that don’t matter to make way for what does.
Your energy is a valuable resource. And you’re giving it away much too freely.
How many times have you felt like you’re the only one putting in the work in a relationship? Maybe you feel like you’re always the first one to reach out, the first one to suggest plans, the first one to make a move? While this in and of itself is not a bad thing, when it becomes a pattern, it can be a red flag. Too many of us keep pouring energy into one-sided relationships. But why??
In the zen philosophy, where you invest your energy can, in turn, create your reality. And just like how you work, how you keep your home, and how you treat your body can reflect your inner priorities, the relationships that you maintain can either help or hinder you quest for simplicity and health.
Relationships and Self-Care
We are social creatures, and we require a certain amount of interaction, support, and love from people in order to feel good. But what happens when those relationships start to drain us? What if they take away more than they supply?
Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in this position: overpacking their calendars with social events that they would really rather say “no” to, in order to have the illusion of maintaining a certain importance, standing, or feeling of belonging.
We’re taught to spread our nets wide, and to have a large circle of friends, and our culture looks up to those with the biggest groups of contacts. But this takes a lot of time and energy!
Building a relationship, whether it’s for business, friendship, or something else, requires input and commitment. And too often, this takes away from our down time, our self-care, and our pursuits of hobbies and other things that light us up.
Despite the message that bigger social networks are better, research has shown that we can’t actually maintain deep, lasting, and fulfilling relationships with more than about 12 people at any given time. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, crafting your inner circle of loved ones takes mindfulness and a willingness to let go of some of your own expectations.
I’ve seen, in my own life, and the lives of my loved ones, the expectation monster rear its ugly head and destroy what could have been a healthy relationship. Learning to let go and let people be exactly who they are is one of the keys to living a more free, happy, and mindful life. Easier said than done, I know…
Removing the Unnecessary
Living simply means cutting back to what really matters, and that extends to our relationships too. Perhaps you’ve done a “friend purge” on social media, or witnessed the slow fizzle out of acquaintances in the past. However, in your quest for inner peace, it’s important to sit down and be deliberate about who you let stay in your life.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve unfriended or unfollowed, because that energy didn’t resonate with mine; they were bringing me down in some way. I also can’t tell you how many people simply disappeared from my life when I stopped always being the one to reach out and talk or make plans.
I gave up on their half-hearted texting, their non-committal answers, their general ambivalence about me in their life. And yes, it hurt. It hurt badly with some of those people. And yes, it still hurts sometimes. I’m human, after all. But I feel SO much less shame, guilt, and discomfort about saying a hearty farewell to the people who don’t respect my energy.
Taking stock of your current relationships may sound cold or unemotional, but in truth, it’s anything but. This process requires you to become fully present in yourself and tune into your body’s energy. It invites you to define your priorities and surround yourself with people who support and uplift those priorities.
You’ll have to really listen to your higher self here, as you think about the people you keep in your circle and how they make you feel. And while it’s not always realistic to expect your friends to make you feel warm and fuzzy all the time, it’s critical to weigh your investment of time and energy.
A Mindful Invitation
What kinds of benefits do your loved ones bring to your life? How do they add value? Do you leave feeling anxious or negative after a visit with them, or do you feel awake and happy? How much energy do they demand from you, and how much energy do they invest in return?
If you are willing to take a hard look at your relationships, and make the choice to value yourself enough to pare down in this area, you’ll find that inner peace is much more attainable.
Sit down and contemplate the people you surround yourself with. Think back to how you met them, what activities you typically do together, and how you feel after you spend time with them.
Grab a journal, or simply sit in reflection, and ask the hard questions. Do these people truly know you, respect your time, and support your self-development? Take a look at your friendships, work contacts, who you follow on social media, and even your family members. Be willing to let unsupportive relationships fade, or, if necessary, cut them out completely.
I know this is a hard process, friends, and is a continual practice. Setting healthy boundaries is a critical aspect of self-care, and one that far too many of us ignore. We’re energetic creatures, and we exchange energy with each and every person we interact with, whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone, or through a screen.
But trust me, after you’ve worked these muscles long enough, it will get easier to spot the people who don’t support your best self. You deserve to find your tribe. This is your year for more mindful, intentional, healthy, and simple relationships.
I became a mom on my 26th birthday. Every year is so much sweeter celebrating my birthday with my daughter. No birthday present will ever compare. I knew becoming a mother would be fun, challenging, rewarding and real hard. But you know how it is when you know something, but you don’t really know.
Parenthood is a very special thing—you will lose a lot of sleep and be on-call 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. You may be told your food tastes bad. While whisking your child through the grocery store, you may even talk about yourself in the third person, because you’re pretending to be the babysitter.
You might go the entire day before realizing you didn’t put deodorant on. And best of all, you probably won’t be able to hear yourself think for really long stretches of time. You may be tired of being tired, and tired of all the things left undone.
So let’s say we stop raising our bar of perfection—and let go of some things undone? Maybe they are things we don’t need to get to; we just need to let go of. Maybe less really could mean more?
The Benefits of Being a Minimalist Parent
Minimalism has helped me identify those things that don’t need to be gotten to. So I can pursue parenting without feeling like I’m carrying a truck full of cement bricks around. To set more bricks down, consider these six benefits of minimalism in parenthood:
1. Less multi-tasking.
Multitasking is the nature of being a mom. And when it comes to multi-tasking, more is not better! If you’re feeling burnt out from multitasking, consider the idea that you may still be just as happy as you are today (more likely happier) if you got rid of 50% of your household possessions and deleted 40% of the activities on your calendar. Tame the burn-out from multitasking.
2. Better mental health.
There is nothing like not sleeping well for months to make you feel unwell. Maybe it’s just me, but very few things in life have tested my mental health like motherhood. Parenting is typically mentally exhausting. Many strive for the impossible ideal of the “perfect mother.”
We (raising my hand here) set ourselves up for unrealistic expectations. Being responsible for less stuff and fewer activities helps you see the unrealistic expectations you’re holding to—and how they’re affecting your mental health. How do we expect motherhood to feel when we’re taking on too much, owning more than we can take care of and scheduling activities for our family every-single-day-of-the-week.
3. Better finances.
Every parent wants to provide financially for their children. We may want to buy them all the things we didn’t have ourselves growing up. When you become minimalist, you focus your finances on the things that matter and add value. You realize if your child has 75 toys, purchasing another one isn’t going to improve their life and it certainly isn’t going to make them happier.
4. Fewer distractions.
I don’t know about you, but I can be easily distracted. Distractions have even led to awarding myself the bad mom of the year award. The nature of parenting is distracting—stop whatever you’re doing and tend to your child. Young children have immediate needs to be met. How many non-essential distractions do we want to give ourselves? A home filled with stuff can be a significant source of distraction and stress. We keep more than we can take care of and subsequently, all that stuff becomes a distraction to the very life we’re trying to live.
If our purpose is to care for our children, but the work environment is riddled with excess stuff, our job will be that much harder. We will constantly be pulled to clean this, sort that, and organize more. When you bring minimalism into parenthood, you’re removing the distractions that do not matter.
5. You will model what matters.
That old expression, do as I say not as I do, never goes very far. Children model our behavior. When you exhibit the daily habits that matter, you’re modeling to them and cultivating what is important. When you intentionally say no to all the stuff that doesn’t matter, you’re also modeling what does matter.
Shift the scale of your ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When we say ‘yes’ to needless stuff, we are also saying ‘no’ to the meaningful stuff. Giving more ‘no’ to busyness and accumulation makes it possible to give more ‘yes’ to the meaningful requests of our children.
6. More time for what matters.
You will get tired of hearing yourself say, “I didn’t get to it yet.”And when you’re sick and tired of all the things you didn’t get to, and all the stuff, I hope you will consider, maybe some of them don’t to be gotten to. Maybe they just need to be let go of.
Minimalism in motherhood is by no means the answer to all of our problems, but it can be a better path to face them. Purging many possessions brought me greater awareness for all the other things in my life that need(ed) purging.
I’m not made to have it all, do it all and be it all. And trying to meet society’s expectations of super mom just leaves me super tired.
I’ve found living a more minimalist lifestyle is a path to cultivate more space for my values, passion, and purpose in life. Maybe it would be for you too?
But, now that I’m five years in, I’ve had the chance to reflect. If I became a minimalist today, there are a few things I would do differently.
1. I would have gone slower.
After months of reading about minimalism, I finally kickstarted my journey by playing The Minimalists’ MinsGame. Over the course of a month, I decluttered over 400 things from all areas of my life (clothes, kitchen stuff, books, electronics). But, like I’ve said before, I’m both impatient AND a methodical turtle.
If I got to go back and do it over again, I’d spread it out over 2 to 3 months. That way, I would have the time to really interrogate what I wanted to keep in my life and what I wanted to pass on to someone else. Minimalism for me is all about making mindful decisions. And, I’m sad to say, I wasn’t very mindful when I first started out. I just wanted everything gone. Which brings me to #2.
2. I would have reused, repurposed, and reclaimed.
This is a big one for me. I donated and tossed so much stuff at the beginning of my minimalist journey that I’m certain I missed opportunities to reuse, repurpose and reclaim items. Riffing off of Our Next Life’s Use It Up Challenge, I truly believe we have a responsibility to utilize as much of the stuff we own, to the best of our abilities, before we minimize it from our lives.
Jars from old beauty products can be used for other purposes (I use an old deodorant jar to hold hand cream at work). Unwanted clothing can be given a new life (think t-shirt quilt). Old books can be turned into a million different useful things (Pinterest is very helpful here).
Still, some things just can’t be reworked to fit into your life. Which is where #3 comes in.
3. I would have chosen to donate the right way.
At the beginning of my decluttering journey, I dropped everything off at my local Value Village (a second-hand charity store for non-North Americans). Knowing what I know now about where our stuff actually ends up, I would be much more particular about where I donate now.
These days, I donate beauty products I can’t use to Project Beauty Share. And, when I do another closet clean out soon, I’m going to take the items to a local women’s shelter. I live in Northern Ontario, so winter clothes are at a premium for our homeless population. I’m going to hold onto those items, plus hats, mitts, and blankets until they are needed again next year.
It will take more time and effort to donate this way. But, being mindful in this crucial part of my minimalism journey will ensure my unused stuff is better utilized by those who can actually use it.
4. I would have told my family sooner.
Even though I have been a minimalist for almost five years now, I’ve never actually had the “I’m a minimalist” conversation outright with any of them. I’ve told them I don’t want/need gifts or any other material objects. But, and this is crucial to their respect of that decision, I’ve never actually told them why.
I think if I had, it would have made the “Thanks, but no thanks” conversations a little easier because it wouldn’t have been coming out of left field.
5. I would have cut myself more slack.
Over the years, I’ve found myself getting sucked into the “minimalist ideal.” And, it often left me with a feeling of inadequacy because my life didn’t look like the pictures of other minimalist lifestyle bloggers (aka white rooms, empty, modern). I’ve spoken about the issues I have with ‘minimalist design’ in a past episode of Tiny Bites. And, I stand by that.
My minimalist life looks exactly the way it should—like my life and no one else’s. If we’re all aspiring to look like the same version of minimalism that we’ve seen perfected on Instagram—how different and unique actually is that?
6. I would have enjoyed the journey.
Once I got myself out from under the mountain of ‘stuff’ that was suffocating my life, I realized I wasn’t the person I thought I was. I learned a lot about myself during the decluttering process and I wish I had savored those experiences and that learning process when it was happening in real time.
It’s a weird and wonderful feeling to realize who you actually are. And, there’s one thing I know for sure – I am not my stuff.
7. I would have started sooner.
Looking back now and realizing how much I’ve simplified my life compared to what it looked like, if I got to do it again, I’d start sooner. I wouldn’t waste another second shopping online to buying something to impress other people. I would stop saying “yes” just to be polite when “no” is what I needed to say. Most of all, I would start trusting that I know the right path for me. Even if it looks different than what everyone else thinks my life should be.
I would also start blogging about it on Day 1. I can’t imagine where Tiny Ambitions would be today if I’d taken that next step and put my journey online as soon as I started.
A Life with No Regrets
I just want to say that I have absolutely no regrets about how my minimalist journey has unfolded. Regrets imply that I did something “wrong” or that I’m ashamed. And nothing could be further from the truth.
My journey has been slow, fast, weird and wonderful. And, I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to share it with you.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you had the chance to restart your minimalism/simple life/slow living journey today?
If you’ve ever looked at your closet and felt overwhelmed by the possibilities, but still lamented that you had nothing to wear, we feel your pain.
Rather than being a simple decision resulting in an outfit that makes you feel confident and amazing, our overflowing closets have turned getting dressed each morning into a stressful and frustrating experience.
We believe there’s a different way, a better way, and that’s why I’m excited to announce the launch of Simply Worn—a weekly newsletter designed to inspire and assist you in curating a simple, ethical wardrobe you love that will sustain a life you love.
What you wear is about so much more than just grabbing a pair of pants and a shirt and throwing them on each day. It’s a declaration to the world about who you are, who you want to be, and what you care about.
What We Believe
At Simply Worn, we function under three core beliefs that encapsulate what we care about and drive everything we do:
1. We believe in quality over quantity.
That having a limited number of well-made items is infinitely better than a huge array of pieces that fall apart after one season.
2. We believe in simplicity and sustainability.
That getting dressed in the morning shouldn’t be an ordeal and your closet should be great for both you and the environment.
3. We believe in function and fashion.
That beauty doesn’t have to equal pain and you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to look and feel amazing.
We believe it’s better to patch the sweater that’s been with you through countless seasons of life than it is to buy something shiny and new just because it’s shiny and new. We believe fashion doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. We believe it’s possible to create a wardrobe you’re head over heels in love with that saves you money, saves you time, saves the environment, and saves other people.
Over the last century, fashion has become nearly unrecognizable from what it was and it’s killing our wallets, our planet, and other people, and it’s stealing our time.
We want to help you get that time back and fill your closet with high-quality, ethically made items you’re head over heels with and will last you for years, so you can spend your life doing what you love, instead of hemming and hawing over what to wear each day.
There is an alternative to all those wasted hours with nothing to wear. Let us help you get there.
Simply Worn launches this Friday, February 9, 2018.
I can remember the moment my minimalist journey began. I was a college student at the University of New Mexico, and I was organizing the clothes in my closet. At the time, I liked to organize my garments by color. It looked great!
It was a satisfying site. However, something struck me when I looked at my color organized closet when I finished and I realized it probably wouldn’t be practical to travel with this rainbow spectrum of clothing.
Writing and traveling are two of my greatest passions. Because of the latter, packing my suitcase is an exciting thing for me. I was traveling a lot during my college days to L.A. to be with family and friends during summer vacation or holidays. The traveling made for great writing material.
Creating a Life I Love
It was there, when I was examining my closet, that my journey toward minimalist began. Here are some things that I learned along the way that made downsizing less daunting and more realistic.
1. The closet is a great place to start.
After that lightbulb moment, I began incorporating more neutrals into my wardrobe. The question I would ask myself when shopping was is this something that would be practical to travel with? If the answer was yes, I’d add it to my collection and thus my love of wearing neutrals began.
Many of us have accumulation in our closets, as our clothes can give us a certain feeling when we wear them. By dressing ourselves a certain way, we feel a certain way: powerful, sloppy, successful. So as an aspiring minimalist that feels a certain way when costumed, it was a great way for me to start my journey. I felt like a minimalist when I dressed in chic neutrals.
It wasn’t until a little way down the road that I discovered the concept of minimalism and when I learned a little more about it, I felt like I was on my way there already because of my change of perspective with my clothing.
I had decided that this was a journey I was meant to take, but I didn’t feel like my brain was in it—even though my heart was. I went on to graduate from UNM and stayed in New Mexico. My dream of working in film to become a screenwriter was more realistic in New Mexico than if I’d moved back to L.A. Fortunately, I landed a great film job just months after graduating.
2. Minimalism isn’t just for your home life.
A minimalist mindset can be applied to every category in your life and make it better. I worked in film for almost two years. It was great money. I felt like I was living the dream. I was working for people that won Emmys for their writing.
At first, it seemed the 12+ hour days we worked were worth it, but then it started to feel exhausting. I slept every chance I got. I drank a lot of coffee, which wasn’t so bad, but I was eating a lot to keep myself from being tired. The film industry has a department just for snacks called Craft Service. There was always food!
Worst of all, I wasn’t writing every day anymore. I know we all have the same number of hours in a day, but 12-16 of those hours were spent working and 6-8 were spent sleeping during that period of my life.
Yes, I had the weekends, but my brain was just off. After a couple of negative experiences, I felt pushed to the edge. I didn’t see this as a dream, because I wasn’t doing what I loved. It was time to get back on track.
3. Recognize what is important to you.
In February, I quit the industry and started looking for other jobs. My first thought in my job search process was it would be great if there was a little job at the senior center that’s across the street from my house because then I could walk to work. It turned out there was: a full-time position as an activities coordinator.
I applied and got the job. I now work 8 hour days and I have a lunch hour! It’s a fun job. I’ve planned tea parties and trips for the senior community and best of all, I get to write little articles about these activities for the newsletter and I work alongside a published children’s author. Not for a successful writer: with.
This new job has also opened up time for me to pursue my master’s degree in creative writing, something I have always wanted to do. I started in April. My minimalist mindset allowed me to recognize what was really important to me.
My shopping habit became more mindful along the way, and I now have a capsule wardrobe that I love, a job that I love, and I’m doing what I love. My road to minimalism isn’t finished yet, but I don’t think it will ever be finished.
4. Don’t see minimalism as something that has a finish line.
It took me a while to realize that minimalism is a lifestyle, not something that has check points or a measuring scale. It is an ongoing journey. The way I see minimalism will change as my life changes.
I consider myself a minimalist, even though my desk could use some tidying up. Because I weave minimalism into my life, my cluttered desk isn’t so cumbersome, like something I needed to clean in order to actual be a minimalist.
Currently, I have a lot of things listed on eBay and Poshmark. I’m selling a lot of things that are no longer of use to me so that my fiancé and I can live in a vintage Airstream full-time. The journey continues, as life always does.