The importance of JOY

George E. Vaillant, a psychoanalyst and research psychiatrist at Harvard, directed a 30-year study on adult development. According to Vaillant, joy, love, compassion, happiness, and delight “help us to broaden and build. They widen our tolerance, expand our moral compass and enhance our creativity,” as well as help bind us to others. Vaillant’s experiments document that while negative emotions like shame, guilt, anger, and hate narrow our attention, positive emotions, especially joy, make thought patterns far more flexible, creative, integrative, and effective.

On the flip side, when you dwell on negative feelings, you damage your physical and spiritual well-being. Negative emotions cause stress on your body – and you’re less pleasant to be around so they can have a huge effect on relationships. Continue reading

How to ask for help

A participant in a talk I gave last week shared a great story. She’s a single mom who worked full-time while raising her daughter. For them, there was no question that household chores had to be divided or they wouldn’t get done. To survive, they made a list of weekly chores and put them into a hat. Each week they would draw to see who did what. And here’s the fun part. If you got something you really hated, you could attempt a trade. FYI: She said cleaning the cat box was always worth at least two chores in a trade. 🙂

Most of us who raised kids tried a mix of ways to get them to help out around the house – from charts and graphs to outright bribes! The “hat” method adds suspense each week. And I picture cheering as you draw certain chores or avoid drawing others.

This conversation got me thinking about how much most of us hate asking for help. We feel like we should be able to do whatever we’ve taken on and don’t want to appear weak or needy. At the same time, most of us love offering a helping hand. Think back on a time when someone really needed help and you came to their aid. Can you feel your energy rise remembering that? Continue reading

Decluttering with a mission

I get more questions about decluttering than any other organizational issue. What to me is great fun is, apparently, quite a chore to most people. If you’ve got a drawer, closet, room, or HOUSE to declutter, it helps to have motivation and a deadline.

I had two brilliant motivators descend on me this week: a theater where I work is holding a garage sale and is looking for items to sell, including clothing items. And our library asked for art supply donations for an upcoming project.

My house is mostly decluttered but two areas where things seem to stick are my potential-costume rack, and my art closet. The potential-costume rack includes things I’ve worn in past shows, dress-ups for the kiddos, and clothes I “demote” until I’m ready to part with them. The art closet includes bits and pieces of recent and past craft and sewing projects. Continue reading

The Room Around You

Last week, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see Matisse in the Studio. The exhibit shows the objects Matisse had on display in his studio and how they influenced his art. The exhibit was beautiful – which I expected. What I didn’t expect was an “ah ha” reminder of how important it is to surround yourself with things you think are cool, that make your happy, and that inspire you.

On the left is a part of a gorgeous “curtain” Matisse had in his studio to cover a large window. Imagine how the light in Nice, France would have beamed in through these cut-outs and how that might have inspired his cut-out art.







Continue reading

Choosing energy

It’s so easy to waste time. Look at all the temptations! TV, Netflix, Facebook, email, computer games, movies, parties, magazines… What’s your poison?

Distractions can be fun and have social elements to them, but are they the best use of your time?

It’s hard to hold the line, once and for all because your time demands and needs change. For me, the #1 reason to not do an activity is if I lose energy even thinking about it. Continue reading

How much of your life do you choose with intent?

How much of your life do you choose? And how much is you walking down a path you’re on?

Before you roll into weekend plans, I challenge you to pause and think about what your intent is for a myriad of aspects of your life.

Did you choose, or did you happen upon:

  • Where you live
  • Who you live with
  • What you eat
  • What you do for work
  • The people you hang out with
  • What you do with your free time
  • What you watch on TV/Netflix/Hulu, et al.
  • What you read – books, magazines, newspaper, and online sites
  • How you spend other time online and/or on your phone
  • What you do for volunteer work
  • How you present yourself – what you wear, how you hold yourself, when and how you speak; is your driver fashion, comfort, to make a statement, to blend in?
  • How you decorate and keep your home – precise, comfortable, colors, textures, style, messy, neat, etc.
  • How you tend to deal with others – speaking, listening, teaching, being directive, being kind, sharing knowledge, being funny, etc.
  • How you get around – walking, biking, in a car, using mass transit, running, etc.

Continue reading

Choosing to be consciously cozy

Think about some of the best times in your life. How many of them were times you spent with family or friends, cozied up in a quiet place enjoying simple times with good people? Candles were lit. Maybe there was a storm outside. Maybe there was a game. There was definitely great conversation. Everyone felt included and everyone loved being part of the group.

If you’re like most Americans, these times “just happen”. In Denmark, hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), is about striving to create these times, to be “consciously cozy”. What an awesome choice in a time of uncertainty, unsettling change, and elitism.

Here’s how the Danes define hygge: Continue reading

Organizational Tips for Kids

When I give talks on Organizational Zen, I’m often asked by frazzled parents if I have tips for helping kids stay organized. My best advice is to lead by example. If your stuff isn’t in order, your kids see it, so why should they get their own stuff in order? Right?

If you’ve got that down, then I’d add these seven guidelines to help your kids create their own Organizational Zen. Continue reading