How to edit your life for increased happiness. White flowers in vase on wooden side table next to white covered bed.

How to edit your life for increased happiness

‘Could I do with a little Life Editing?’

This is the question posed by Graham Hill in his TED talk ‘Less stuff, more happiness’.

It inspires us to take a closer look at what we have, why we have it, how we live and, most importantly, how we dream of living.

When life is weighing us down with physical clutter it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, burnt out and ready to quit.

So, what is physical clutter?

If you say the words ‘physical clutter’ aloud, what images spring to mind?

You might visualise a hoarder living in dark, dingy accommodation packed from floor to ceiling with ‘stuff’, or a garden filled with old bikes, broken fence panels and a rusty fridge.

Of course, this is an extreme case and probably only enters our minds because of television shows we’ve seen. 

Perhaps you visualise an older person surrounded by years of memorabilia, photos, hundreds of books and a shed filled with bric-a-brac that’s sure to ‘come in handy one day’. 

Or maybe you picture a large family home with each room bursting at the seam with endless toys and games….

A kitchen filled with every gadget and electrical item.

A garage so full that the car can no longer enjoy its rightful home.

Bathrooms packed with multi-coloured plastic bottles for every body part, for each member of the tribe. 

And it’s not just physical clutter…

In this digital age, we’re bombarded more and more with data clutter. Newsletters, sales emails, special offers and messages all enticing us to ‘sign up NOW!’

We have multiple tabs open on every device; not to mention upgrading these devices every 18 months just to keep up.

It’s time to stop cluttering our lives and instead enjoying more freedom and joy.

In his TED talk, Hill primes us with the notion of the joys of less.

When you’re travelling and only have an overnight bag in a hotel room, how do you feel?

I’m guessing…

Free. Relaxed. Creative. Enthusiastic. Calm.

How do you feel when you walk back through your front door and straight into the noise, clutter and chaos? 

It’s draining.

Like your life source is instantly sucked out from within you and leaves you feeling weak, tired and numb or stressed, angry and impatient for change.

So, what can you do? 

In addition to considering living ‘smaller’ and more efficiently in a multi-functional space that suits your needs, Hill suggests we should ‘edit ruthlessly’.

This is not just about getting rid of stuff, but reducing the flow of new items into your space and being far more aware of what you buy and how it will make you feel. 

(Read more about my personal journey in this blog ‘Why I love thrift shopping’.)

Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home, suggests a similar first stage to living a more efficient, joy-filled life by learning to REFUSE and REDUCE the quantity of goods you acquire. 

Simply recycling and selling or donating what we have isn’t enough.

This is about a complete mindset shift towards being aware of how we act as consumers and the intention in how we live our everyday lives. 

Still not convinced? 

In America the average family has three times more space they had fifty years ago and commercial storage units have become a $22 billion industry! 

We’ve now each got more debt, a higher carbon footprint and considerably more stress than ever before. Plus, we’re not even as happy!

I believe that now is the time to take drastic action and begin living a life that feels aligned to your soul and good for your family. 

It’s the time to live happier lives with less stuff, more experiences and more of the important stuff that actually makes your heart sing. 

We must make a pact to live intentionally and to share that knowledge and experience with others.

Stop. 

Breathe. 

Because it’s time to live the life you deserve and the life you truly dream of; a life filled with joy.

Are you ready to edit your life for increased happiness?

Lorraine xx

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5 Steps To Simplify Your Life

It’s a true fact that we’ve all got too much stuff!

  • We have too much stuff in our homes that we’re constantly moving around from room to room, from small box to big box, from one pile to another.
  • We have too much stuff in our minds that leaves us feeling overwhelmed, drained and unable to think clearly or truly relax.
  • We have too many tabs open on our laptops, too many unopened emails and constant digital overload.

It’s time we stopped collecting, consuming and drowning in possessions.

It’s time to make our lives more simple, more rewarding and more healthy – for our own well-being and for the health of our planet.

Here are 5 easy steps to bringing more ease and flow to your life …

Step 1 – Decide how you want your life to look.

I realised many years ago that I didn’t want to spend every evening sat watching television. I needed to find activities that stimulated my mind and my creativity. I slowly replaced my previous TV favourites with a combination of learning new skills (tech stuff, graphic design, an Open University degree, courses in sales, money mindset and more…) and eventually sold the television set! (You don’t have to be that extreme, but it worked for me!) Looking back, all I did was to swap the things I didn’t want in my life for the things that made me happy. Now I get to spend all my time doing the things I love and in turn, I’ve been able to create a business that helps other people and together, we’re part of a ripple effect that’s slowly changing the world. What could your life look like if you made simple changes every day?

Step 2 – Declutter your home

Whenever we think of decluttering, we tend to visualise a garage or wardrobe filled with junk and objects we’d long forgotten about and we feel a sudden sense of dread about the enormity of the job. Which is probably why we put it off for so many months (or even years) and why DIY shops sell so many storage boxes! But there’s so much more to the decluttering process than simply reorganising possessions into neatly labelled boxes. There’s a lovely little book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo which shows us how to sort our belongings by type instead of by area. (E.g. clothes, books, stationery and paper items). Kondo believes we should hold each item and ask ourselves whether it brings us joy. Of course, there are some essential exceptions to this, but on the whole, we should be surrounded by possessions that we love or that make us happy or our lives easier in some way. When we reduce the amount of clutter around us we feel a sense of lightness and renewed energy. This is particularly true of the things we notice every day, like the clothes piled up on the exercise bike in the spare room, the kitchen cupboard that is so fill something falls out and smashes or makes a mess every time we open it, the boxes in the corner of the bedroom that were meant to be sorted when you moved in … a year ago.

Step 3 – Digital declutter and detox

If you run your own business you’ll know what I mean about having multiple tabs and documents open all the time, endless pings of notifications and an inbox with unread emails in their thousands. Even if you’re not a business owner, chances are a lot of your world now revolves around technology – everything from controlling your heating to planning your holiday, reading a book or keeping in touch with friends. It’s healthy to schedule plenty of time away from your devices as it will bring you better sleep, a calmer mind and better posture. Check your emails just once or twice a day instead of responding to every notification; ditto for Facebook and other social media. Have a strict no-phones rule at the dinner table and try to charge your devices away from the bedroom. Once you remove the temptation you’ll soon realise how much you don’t need to grab your phone the minute you wake up!

Step 4 – Think about food waste

So while we’re busy over-consuming on a daily basis, we often fail to consider the amount of food that gets wasted every year in our homes. From food scraps leftover when we’re full up (because we cooked too much) to bendy carrots and mouldy lemons or packets of unused dried food or spices that’s sat at the back of the cupboard for years! There’s a healthy balance somewhere in between being overstocked and understocked. No-one wants bare cupboards, but equally, having a fridge and freezer so overstuffed is often a recipe for stress and the quickest way to get a family ordering a take-away because the cooking choices are overwhelming. Plan your meals ahead of time and take a shopping list to the supermarket to ensure you’re not buying stuff you don’t need. Also, run a quick audit of your fridge before you go out so you don’t double up on items that perish quickly. Use up slightly-past-their-best produce in dishes such as curry, casserole or pasta sauces.

Step 5 – Gratitude

In fact, this really should be step one because we’re all guilty of forgetting how much we value the simple things in life. Starting now, write a short gratitude note every day to allow yourself time to reflect on what’s really important in your life and the things that light you up. You may choose to start a gratitude journal, write little notes and fold them in a jar or perhaps you want to share them with the world on an Instagram page. It doesn’t matter how or where you write them, what matters is the intention behind every word. The more you approach life from a place of gratitude, the more you’ll realise that you don’t need things to make you happy.

How will you begin simplifying your life today?

Lorraine xx

 

Busyness v. Stillness

Once upon a time I was a mother of two little children, rushing around from one activity to the next, surrounded by a sea of plastic toys and answering hundreds of random questions every day.

I was always busy, always thinking, always moving. I never stopped. A ‘mummy drink’ of Bacardi and coke and a generous portion of reality TV simply numbed the senses but didn’t really allow me to switch off.

I got irritated really easily, kicked toys, drove too fast and ate a lot of chocolate.

My body, mind and soul were constantly swept up in a tornado of ‘doing’ and ‘stuff’.

Fast forward a few years and in contrast to busyness, I now enjoy stillness.

The change did not happen overnight. It’s been a long process of aligning to my inner truths and core values; a journey of learning to understand and love the real me on the inside.

Because, the truth is this…

Sometimes we just get swept up with life. The boyfriend, the house, the wedding, the baby, the nursery, the toys, the school, the activities, the jobs, the money, the food, the shopping, the socialising. The endless accumulation of stuff to do and stuff to own. We find ourselves constantly irritated by minor things and filling the void with food, alcohol, caffeine, sugar or substances. (Because stuff does not equal contentment.)

I realised I had enough stuff in my life. In fact, I had too much. All this stuff was drowning my spirit and making me stressed and overwhelmed.

There wasn’t one point at which I suddenly said ‘that’s enough!’, it was a gradual process; a mirror of the process it took to get there. The layers piled on and now they needed peeling off again.

When I moved from a bungalow in 2013 I had ten years of stuff in the loft to clear out. Every painting and drawing the girls had ever made, every pair of shoes they’d ever worn, every outfit, every toy, every blanket, every photo … plus there were boxes of mine and my ex-husband’s that we’d not looked at since the late 90s! Emptying the loft took longer than emptying the actual main living space. (Although, carrying boxes down a ladder every day for three weeks is great for your legs and bum! #silverlinings)

In the last five years what’s changed the most is the realisation that I need stillness, calm, peace and time to reflect every day. Not just once a week for an hour between other activities, I need it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

When I’m out with friends, networking or at an event, I love being with people. I love listening to their stories and finding out what lights them up and fuels their creative passion. When I’m with my children I love to listen to their stories of school, work, social media and friendships and understand what makes them tick as they grow into amazing young adults. And when I’m by myself I love to just BE. To look up at the clouds and watch the trees swaying in the wind, to spend quiet time with a purring cat on my lap or watching my bunnies wash their faces or eat daisies – stem first (it’s the cutest thing!).

As a small business owner I’ve tried making schedules and timetables and plans but I’ve realised that they don’t work for me because they don’t allow for time to just be. This precious time (and precious moments with children, partners and pets or in nature) can’t be allocated within a spreadsheet. Sometimes you have to seize the moment or the opportunity when it presents itself. If you’re trying to stick to a schedule then you’ll always feel like you failed, even if you actually took time off to do something that made you feel great.

So, what really changed over the last five to ten years? How did I get from overwhelmed, rushing, stressed out mummy to calm, serene business owner?

  • I switched my mindset. I read The Gratitude Diaries, Eat Pray Love, Big Magic and countless other books that helped me to live life from a place of gratitude, not scarcity. I wrote daily gratitude lists and made more time to enjoy the simple things in life. 
  • I cut drama and negativity out of my life. I stopped watching the news, daytime TV, reading newspapers and reading the negative comments across social media. I actually sold my TV too! Now I watch just the documentaries, movies or programmes that I choose, online, at my preferred time.
  • I began decluttering. I realised that simply tidying the stuff from one room to another or rearranging it into yet more plastic storage boxes simply wasn’t working! The stagnant energy was still sitting there. Slowly, I’ve reduced our possessions to perhaps a tenth of what we had back in 2013. I’m working on creating a capsule wardrobe where I love everything in it and every item fits me well and makes me feel great. This stops that ‘I have nothing to wear’ scenario and reduces the stress of washing mountains or packing for holidays.
  • I stopped trying to make everything fit and just tuned in to ME. I realised that I was happiest when I wasn’t constantly trying to be something that I wasn’t. I shared more of the real me online which attracted more of my ‘tribe’. Now with an amazing, extended group of like-minded people all around me, I feel supported, respected and loved. And the best part is that I get to make others feel good too! #connectionsandcommunity
  • I switched back to a mainly vegetarian diet somewhere around 2012 … and then tried four months as a raw vegan before ending up at a 95% plant-based diet that suited me and my family really well. In the last year I’ve committed to a completely plant-based lifestyle and the last pieces all fell into place. Love, compassion, peace, kindness, stillness, nature, lunar cycles and Mother Earth – it all fits together like a beautiful hand made wooden puzzle.
  • Plus (and you may not like these!), I stopped drinking diet coke, rarely drink alcohol and never drink black tea or coffee. Before switching to a plant-based diet I’d also stopped eating over-processed milk chocolate bars (like the ones in purple wrappers) and switched to dairy-free dark chocolate instead. So, basically, cut the caffeine, sugar and alcohol and you’ll feel much less stressed! Eating a healthy, vegetable and fruit rich diet with primarily home cooked foods will support and nourish your body.

So that’s me, now it’s over to you…

  • What can you do today to bring more stillness, calm and joy into your life?
  • What can you do today to reduce the amount of stress and overwhelm you feel? Where do you need to be honest with yourself? What difficult conversations do you need to have? Where do you need support?
  • What can you do today to connect with people that will lift you up, support your goals and make you feel great? How can you make other people feel loved, respected and heard?

 

Lorraine xx