New Season, New Habits
For many of us, lovely autumn is finally here. For those who live in the southern hemisphere, it is the beginning of another spring.
Either way, it's a fresh start.
You might already know that I get tired of heat and summer sun, month after month. Here in northern California, it's almost a miracle to have temperatures lower than 90℉ or to receive any rain at all between May and October. I think it is almost as difficult as a long, cold, snowy winter, and my husband and I lived in Denver for a while, so I have experienced that type of climate as well and have some basis for comparison.
I am quite ready for cooler temps, cloudy skies, and the variety of color and change that autumn provides (it's just like spring in that respect). I always feel a surge of energy at this time of year, and I'm ready for a new project or challenge.
Does the change of seasons make you feel the same? Are you itching for change and a challenge? Rather than focusing on a new fall wardrobe, autumn décor, or pre-Christmas shopping, consider one of these activities that let you practice a new habit.
4 Seasonal Shifts
1. Swap your house.
Not your house, exactly, but its contents. Try a new furniture arrangement and/or swap wall art, rugs, lamps, throw pillows, knickknacks, side tables and chairs between one room and another. While you're at it, clean corners, baseboards, windows, etc. you may not have touched for a while.
I did this last weekend, and I'm really enjoying my "new" living room and bedrooms. I bought nothing (I even decluttered a couple of things), but with items in new spots I notice and enjoy them more. It's amazing how a simple swap refreshes and renews your home!
After your swap, evaluate. Does being “bored” with your house usually cause you to buy something? How else might you respond to boredom? Did the swap help you notice things you'd been overlooking (clutter, unfinished projects, unmade decisions)?
For more help in making your home a haven, check out my newest book, Comfortable Minimalism: Create a Home with Plenty of Style and a Lot Less Stuff (paid link).
2. Freeze shopping.
Do this for one week or up to a month for a real learning experience. Yes, you can still buy soap, batteries, toilet paper, etc. Yes, you can buy food and drink from the grocery store. Yes, you can buy gas for the car (or repairs if that becomes necessary), public transportation, and doctor's visits and medications.
What you won't buy is clothes, shoes, home décor, or gadgets. No books, take-out coffee, restaurant meals, or purchased entertainment. No additions to your fabric stash or toolbox. Use what you have, rent or borrow if you must. Stay out of stores, actual and virtual.
If you want to socialize, make a phone call, have friends over for a meal, meet for a walk or a bike ride, or volunteer for a cause together. If there's a "forbidden" item you think you need, add it to a list, along with what prompted your desire (boredom, jealousy, fear of missing out, "oooh, that's cute," or actual need).
At the end of your shopping freeze, evaluate. What made you want to shop? What did you do instead to entertain yourself or get creative, and how do you feel about your efforts? Did you socialize more, less, or about the same, and what were those interactions like? Did you ever actually need any "forbidden" items, or do you already have enough? Will you plan another shopping freeze?
3. Observe a fast.
The purpose of a fast is to develop self-mastery by being more mindful about our choices rather than letting habit or temptation be in control. Many people associate the idea of fasting with food, but the concept can be applied in other areas as well.
Is your response "I could never give up _________!" Does the question make you feel defensive? If you enjoy something so much that it would be difficult to give it up, does that mean you have a problem with it? An addiction?
Only you know the answer to that, but if you want to be living life on purpose rather than in thrall to something else, it's a question you should try to answer.
Choose a period between one week and one month to give up one of the following:
- sugar and refined carbs
- sodas (including diet soda)
- meat and/or dairy
- fast food
- checking news updates more than once a day
- TV and streaming
- video gaming
- going to the casino
- being "super busy" (take a break from some commitments)
After your fast, evaluate. Was the challenge difficult, or easier than you expected? In what ways was it beneficial? Did you experience drawbacks? Would you want to make this a permanent change (with or without periods of exception)?
4. Practice gratitude.
For 30 days, really focus on all of the good in your life.
- Every morning when you awake or every night before bed, write a list of 3-5 people, opportunities, abilities, beauties, comforts, or epiphanies you appreciate.
- Write one thank you note, email, or text to someone each day.
- Verbally thank each person who helps you in some way, including clerks, servers, co-workers, neighbors, roommates, children, and spouses!
- Make giving thanks the focus of your spiritual life.
At the end of 30 days, evaluate. Do you notice a change in your level of contentment, hope, and/or sense of entitlement? How about a change in your relationships? Do you want to continue a mindful gratitude practice?
As we welcome a new season and enjoy the natural changes that occur, let's see if we can experiment with our personal surroundings and habits to make daily life better!
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash