How to Hygge: A Lesson in Self Care

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I love rules.

Clear cut, simply defined rules.

I also love a good mantra. You know a few words to remind you of your goal or purpose.

These two things are most perfectly combined in Marie Kondo’s idea of realizing if an item in your home sparks joy for you.

It’s a simple yes/no question that evokes an emotional response.

I’m doing research for my new book, Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You, and I came across the idea of hygge, which I quickly became obsessed with. I first heard of it from my media-training client Melissa Coleman, who is the author of The Minimalist Kitchen.

What is Hygge?

It’s a Danish word pronounced “hoo-ga,” which is broadly defined as a feeling of cozy contentment. Read more

Never Drink Cold Tea Again

Let me guess – this has happened to you.

You’ve made a cup of tea or coffee, then got so absorbed in your work and it went cold. Right?

Or found that there’s a small window of time when your drink is at perfect drinking temperature and then you miss it and keep running back to the microwave.

This has been my reality and it drives me nuts. It’s so unproductive.  

I absolutely HATE drinking cold tea!

Ok fine – it’s a minor inconvenience, but it’s also one I don’t have to deal with anymore.

This past Christmas my parents bought me one of my favorite gifts ever – the Ember cup!

The idea is that it allows you to keep your drink at the precise temperature that you set.

No more cold teas!

I know it seems kind of crazy to spend $80 bucks on a mug but I’m telling you it’s been a game changer for me.

I’m much more productive actually because I’m not always running back and forth to the microwave. And it makes me happy to drink tea at the perfect temperature. It makes the experience that much more joyful.

I’m spoiled for all other tea cups!

If I could change one thing I would prefer a slightly less plain cup. I’m a sucker for a pretty tea cup. And sometimes the app is a little wonky. You use it to time how long your tea will steep and what temperature you’d like to maintain.

But I’ll overlook it all for a cup that stays a perfect 137 degrees. The Ember cup also comes as a travel mug as well.

The Case for Becoming A Minimalist

Since my book Listful Thinking has been published in 12  different languages I have been able to connect with list makers across the globe. In particular I often receive messages from people in China and Japan who want to talk about their love of lists.

It’s become clear to me that while  we may have different approaches and styles, being more productive without overworking ourselves is a common human goal. In fact, in my search for a more minimalist lifestyle, I have often been inspired by ideas from the other side of the world.

As you may know I am a huge fan of Marie Kondo, who brings a simplicity to clearing clutter. She has you ask a simple question as you hold items from you home in your hand, “Does it spark joy?” It makes you really think about the stuff you  choose to keep, not just in your closets, but in your life in general.

I’m not the only one who has been inspired by eastern minimalism. Raymond Tang felt overwhelmed by his fast paced technology driven lifestyle and sought change elsewhere. He was inspired by the classic poems of by Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher. These poems are thousands of years old, but as Raymond explains in his TED talk they offer advice that we can embrace today.

Lao Tzu encouraged people to act more like water, which fills the shape of its container. t doesn’t fight against the obstacle in anyway. In the same way, all of us can be more open to opportunities and rather then force ourselves to be a certain version of success, we can just go with the flow.

It’s easier said than done, of course and I struggle with this on a daily basis. I really like order and structure and when I’m in a chaotic situation it makes me anxious. But I’m trying to be more open to chance and circumstance.

Minimalism is big  in Japan as well, where  young people are trying to own fewer and fewer things. Inspired by traditional Zen Buddhism, they have reduced the amount of physical things in their life to free up time spent cleaning or decluttering to be used elsewhere. When explaining the difference between Eastern and Western styles one person said, “In the west, making a space complete means placing something there. But with tea ceremonies, or Zen, things are left incomplete on purpose to let the person’s imagination make that space complete.”

In that same article one Japanese man explained that he only four pairs of pants, three shirts and four pairs of socks. If that makes you nervous, it shouldn’t! There’s something really freeing about having less stuff.

When you think about you probably use the same clothes over and over again anyway. So why are you holding onto it?

Forget FOMO and Embrace the “Joy of Missing Out”

You’ve probably heard of the term FOMO or “fear of missing out” – possibly in the context of someone making fun of millenials who say things like “I can’t believe I’m not going to Coachella this year I have so much FOMO”.

But it’s not just millennials who have this problem!

I used to get FOMO and it drove me a little crazy.

I couldn’t say no to any networking event or opportunity without feeling that if I didn’t go I would not only miss out, but be negatively affecting my business or the launch of my book.

We have this weirdly held belief among entrepreneurs that just around the corner is our big break or big meeting that can turn everything around. We just have to go to enough events or connect with the right people to find it.

It’s technically true but it can drive you insane. Or in my case make your appendix burst.

It’s time we started to admit the truth. Read more

To-Do List Wisdom from Mindy Kaling

It’s graduation season, which leads to plenty of people thinking about their long-term goals, not just college students. Often when we reminisce on the goals we had at graduation we focus on all the things we haven’t done.

But are we being too hard on ourselves?

Mindy Kaling thinks so!

When speaking at the graduation ceremony at Dartmouth College Mindy’s final advice to the graduating class was to “let it go.”

We may have a dozen goals in our head when we graduate and some of them may happen and some might not. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or strayed from your path, just that life often doesn’t go the way you planned.

In previous posts I’ve talked of the importance of evaluating your long-term goals. It’s okay to accept that a goal might no longer be what you want or that you need to put it on the back burner while you focus on more important things. A perfect example of this is a woman I interviewed, author Karen Rizzo, she continually put “Learn Italian” on her list and guess what – never happened.

When evaluating long-term goals there are a few things to take into consideration:

Priorities – What we think is a top priority and what we actually spend most of our time and energy on can be two very different things. Depending on where we are in life our biggest priority can be different things, focusing on family, career or even our health.

Does your top priority line up with your daily habits? Check out the book Essentialism for ways to do this better. Maybe you want to get a new job, but you haven’t been to a networking event in months. Or you’re trying to take a step back with work, but still find yourself emailing at 10pm! Make sure your actions line up with your priorities. If they don’t then it might be time to reassess.

Diminishing Returns – The law of diminishing returns is used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

Essentially the more effort you put into something the less you get out of it. How annoying is that?

It’s good to remember though, when you feel like you’ve been pushing a goal or idea for too long – maybe it’s time to ease up a bit?

For example, how many times have you heard people say they found their romantic partner once they stopped looking? The same can be said for many other goals. I know a few people who have been stuck in the ‘research’ phase of writing a book, because they keep finding more and more information pulling them in different directions. At some point you just have to draw a line in the sand and start writing!

When it comes to your goals it’s as Mindy Kaling said –

“Don’t trust any one story of how to become successful.”

Find the path that works for you, it doesn’t have to look like what your 21-year-old self imagined.