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More Magic, Less Mania

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If you've ever gotten sick or felt run down over the holidays, you've experienced the results of holiday stress.  You could blame it on cold weather, or the dehydrating effects of indoor heat, or being around other people who are sick, but at this time of the year you are likely cleaning planning spending socializing eating  drinking and doing more while resting and recharging less . If self-care isn't something you usually do, and you keep insisting on putting everything else before your own needs, you probably go into overdrive during the holidays.  You go out of your way to make sure that everything is perfect, and that everyone has "the best holiday ever."  Sound familiar? If you fall into that mode, or you're just interested in enjoying more magic and less mania during the next several weeks, try one or more of these simple tips. 25 Ways to Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season 1.  Create a morning routine. Take a little time for yourself first thing

The 12 Days of Uselessness

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I've been becoming minimalist for many years, and yet I still acquire useless stuff. Whether it's unsolicited mail, a gift from someone who doesn't know me very well, or something I buy myself because it looks interesting or useful when I see it in the store, I just can't seem to stop adding useless stuff to my life.  It almost seems unavoidable in our culture. Most of what I own is stuff I really need or is something I enjoy having, but I'd estimate that even after all of these years of living with less I could probably part with at least one-quarter of what I own and never miss it.  I guess these items felt essential when I acquired them, but they turned out to be the opposite.  As I get older, that 25% unneeded inventory will grow and grow until the day I die, at which point 100% of my stuff will be useless, since I won't be taking it with me.  What I will do is leave my children with a few more things that are probably useless to them. It turns out even COVI

100% Off

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It's almost here!  The biggest shopping weekend of the year (Black Friday through Cyber Monday).  In the mall, crowds will be pushing and pulling to buy stuff they didn't even know they wanted until they saw the "huge sale prices."  And even if we don't go crazy at Target or in the high street, we might work at filling an online shopping cart. It's ironic and disturbing that we follow the holiday dedicated to the spiritual practice of thanksgiving with a spending orgy.  It's as if that short pause for gratitude makes us all the more determined to get back out there and grab more stuff.  We had to miss one day without our usual fix. Of course, we "have" to shop for Christmas, but we struggle to come up with gift ideas for all of the people on our list because pretty much everyone we know already has everything they need and most of what they want.  This makes us especially vulnerable to ads and sales and "must have" gift lists.  "Wh

The Nitty-Gritty of Gratitude Journaling

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Keeping a gratitude journal is the most well-known gratitude practice for good reason:  It's very simple and highly effective. But maybe you're staring at your pretty new journal and wondering how to start.  How can you make this practice as meaningful as possible? 7 Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal 1.  Write twice a week. I used to think that writing in my journal every day was best for cultivating thankfulness.  But Robert Emmons , the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, suggests twice per week.  Why?  Because making daily entries seems to cause what Emmons calls "gratitude fatigue."  It becomes too routine, just one more thing to cross off a to-do list, and doesn't stimulate the desired response. I suggest you choose two specific evenings so that you don't forget – perhaps Sunday and Wednesday. 2.  Be specific and detailed. Journaling works because it takes the thoughts that flit through your brain and makes them concrete.  But you don&#

Through the Lenses of Gratitude

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Given the very real benefits of practicing gratitude, why do we so often struggle to develop the habit?  A survey done by Janice Kaplan, author of The Gratitude Diaries (paid link), found that while "more than 90% of people think gratitude makes you happier and gives you a more fulfilled life... less than half regularly express gratitude."  It's yet another case of knowing what's good for us and failing to do it. What are some of the obstacles to developing a grateful mindset? We're busy and distracted.   We may feel thankful for someone or something, but then the phone pings, or a child needs attention, or a colleague asks a question, and we move on.  We felt the impulse to say thank you, but it got buried under a to-do list. We notice the negative over the positive.  This might be an evolutionary adaptation, since our ancestors had to pay attention to potential threats in the environment in order to survive.  But in modern times it means that ten things can go