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Showing posts from April, 2021

Friendship Worth the Name

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As more of us get our Covid vaccines, and the time comes closer when we will be able to resume an active social life, we might have some choices to make. I used to have some friends who loved to go out on the town.  They spent money constantly.  We went to restaurants and bars just to see and be seen.  We went shopping together, and encouraged each other to buy stuff.  (I got my first credit card because of those friends.)  We never stopped talking about what we wanted to buy, and tried to "one up" each other with new possessions.  It was a competition that carried a steep financial cost and tied my self-image to what I owned. I also had several friends who did things differently.  Instead of going out, we would get together at each other's apartments, eat potluck or maybe order a pizza, and play board games like Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit .  Instead of going to the movies, we'd hang out and watch a rented video together.  Instead of going to a professional sport

The Value Test

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I've received the first shot of my Covid vaccine and have an appointment for the second dose.  Many of you may have already been vaccinated or are anticipating your opportunity soon.  So – fingers crossed – we may be coming to the end of the Covid era. But 44% of Americans predict it will take at least three years to recover economically from the pandemic, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in January.  Approximately 10% believe their financial situation will never recover. Most of us saw significant changes to our spending during the Covid era.  Perhaps we experienced a loss of income, or had less opportunity to spend because of the closure of services and businesses.  Maybe we stopped commuting and paying for child care.  Or maybe we did more online shopping, especially when we felt sad or bored . So much has changed in the last thirteen months, and so many things we took for granted have been overturned.  But the incredible tragedy of Covid does hold some seeds of oppor

Embrace Uncertainty

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There's a task I'm avoiding right now.  So far, I've procrastinated for most of a week.  Why?  I'm filled with uncertainty about dealing with it.  It's something I've never done before, and I'm afraid I won't be able to figure it out.  It's an important task that needs to be done, and I'm worried I'll mess it up.  When I even think about tackling it, I get anxious.  I feel the tension in my body – my neck tightens and my pulse speeds up.  So I look for something else to do. I think most of us respond this way to something we don't know.  We desire certainty, so we tend to limit ourselves.  Why step out of the old familiar path that has always worked before?  Why not just stay in that comfortable rut? If you think about it, too much certainty is boring.  Who wants to read a book or watch a movie when you're absolutely certain of the outcome?  Even if you have some idea that all will be well in the end, you crave those twists and turns,

Three Little Words to Help You Keep Tidy

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For the sake of simplicity, let's put everyone in the world into two groups: First, there are the Naturally Neat.  And then there are the Not Naturally Neat. While the Naturally Neat person may live with a lot of clutter (that is, unused and unloved items that do not contribute to the quality of his life), that clutter is usually organized.  Baskets, bins, shoe bags, spice racks, and elaborate closet systems are essential to this person's home.  There may be a ton of extraneous stuff, but you better believe it has a place to be. When the Naturally Neat person decides to become more minimalist, he may struggle to decide what to keep and what to remove because all of his stuff is "good" and he doesn't want to "waste" it.  However, once he achieves an uncluttered home, he's happy to continue his long-time cleaning routines and other habits to keep his space tidy. The Not Naturally Neat person is not prone to organization.  Her things may be very random

You Can Declutter Gifts

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You find yourself holding an object that does not "spark joy," but you feel guilty about removing it from your home because it was given to you by a beloved family member or friend.  What do you do? First of all, remember that people are not the things they give you.  The gift is a token of friendship or love, that's all.  The object is a symbol, no more. Now I realize that some symbols, such as wedding rings, convey feelings and promises that are profound.  Of course these belongings are cherished, and their loss would be devastating.  In fact, the choice to get rid of something like this is an emotional and significant statement of its own. But the vast majority of gifts we will receive are not intended to communicate so much, and we don't need to cling to them so tightly.  The teacup Grandma gave you isn't an embodiment of her love. So if you're holding an object you don't use or want, but feel you can't declutter it because it was a gift (especiall

How to Become a Minimalist Without Decluttering ... Yet

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One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a minimalist is summoning the energy and making the time to undo what we've done for so many years. Now, I loved the process of decluttering once I did it, the lightness I gained as I finally let things go, and the feeling that the items I was keeping were only my most useful and favorite belongings.  The whole process was illuminating, and made me appreciate what I kept even more. But it did take time and effort, evenings and weekends, deciding what to keep and how to responsibly donate or discard the rest.  And the longer you've been accumulating, the more there is to remove.  Sifting through all of that clutter is a big job. But just imagine if we could snap our fingers, make the mess go away, and start over today! Unfortunately, that's not how it works.  If we want to live with less, eventually we have to do the hard work of letting go.  There's no other way. But if you are someone who is struggling to let go, we can try a di

11 Reasons to Declutter Today

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Has decluttering been on your radar for a while, but you just haven't started?  You know you need and want to do it, but you're busy.  Always busy, and decluttering takes some time.  It's pretty easy to do the "get rid of one item each day" method, but you feel like that will just take forever, and you want to see meaningful results soon.  But busyness, lack of energy, that TV show, those social media posts, and a touch of good old procrastination are getting in your way. Maybe these eleven reasons to declutter will help give you the motivation to start today. 1.  Save time. A clutter-free home makes it easier to find what you need when you need it, without fruitless searching.  Because everything has a place to belong, it's easier to see when you need to restock or replace something.  Plus, having less stuff makes your home quicker and easier to keep clean.  You can spend time on other things you like to do better. 2.  Save money. You shop less when you becom

How to Say No

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This is a chapter from my latest book, The Minimalist Tool Kit: Habits and Strategies to Help You Find Freedom and Happiness with Less (paid link). Many of us are "super busy."  We're like hamsters in a wheel, struggling to keep up.  We go for quantity, and miss quality.  We spend time recklessly, even though it is our most precious and non-renewable resource. Learning to say no is essential for our happiness. But it's not so easy to do when you were raised to be polite.  Many of us are people-pleasers, and even when something isn't right for us or we're already overloaded with tasks, we struggle to say no.  If we do manage to get the word out, we feel guilty. In part, we can blame our culture, which makes it easy to compare ourselves to others who seem to be accomplishing more than we are.  It's very easy to believe that we just aren't good enough.  So when people ask us for our time, we feel like we have to step up. We can also blame evolution.  Our

The Habits that Changed My Life

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A blessed Easter to all of you this weekend! Of course I struggle with bad habits, as we all do.  But like brushing and flossing, washing my hands, and saying "please," I have plenty of positive habits that make my daily life better.   Sometimes it's good to focus on what we're doing right, rather than continually trying to self-improve.  These are the habits I'm proud of. 1.  I read every day. This habit started in first grade and I've maintained it forever after.  I read fiction and non-fiction books, some news, and favorite blogs.  I always encounter food for thought and inspiration.  2.  I write every day. My goal is one sentence, which I can do no matter what else is going on that day, but I usually write much more.  This habit has led to letters, gratitude journals, blogging, and writing books (I've published eight so far). 3.  I pray every day. I concentrate on offering prayers of thanks, although of course I ask God for help, guidance, and forgive