Decluttering our homes and lives

Accumulating possessions is not always associated with an improvement in wellbeing. It can actually lead to stress and health issues.

On the other hand, giving, donating and getting rid of stuff are usually described as positive experiences. Decluttering homes even has health benefits.

A new Netflix series, Tidying up with Marie Kondo, brings a powerful message across: organising our homes and offices comes with rewards.

Marie Kondo, dubbed the Japanese Mary Poppins, creates happiness by helping people throw away stuff they don’t need and organise their belongings. As a result relationships seem to improve and families live happier together.

The concept is of course not new, as professional organisers, unclutter clinics and clean-up blogs have been around for a while. But there is something appealing about watching this show.

Whether it is a desire for simplicity, a need to create organised spaces to think, work and live, or just guilt reduction, the slowly disappearing clutter towards the end is satisfying.

Marie Kondo makes decluttering homes, and lives, a fun activity. But she does something else. By asking whether objects spark joy she reminds us about our priorities and what life is all about – something we occasionally forget.

7 amazing health benefits of positive thinking

7 health benefits of positive thinking

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 things that do not work.”

This quote from Thomas Edison oozes positive thinking. Optimistic people have a favorable expectancy of their future, and not without reason it seems: studies indicate that optimism leads to a longer, healthier life.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic identified seven potential health benefits of positive thinking:

  1. Increased life span
  2. Lower rates of depression
  3. Lower levels of distress
  4. Greater resistance to the common cold
  5. Better psychological and physical well-being
  6. Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  7. Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress.

We can train ourselves to turn a half-empty glass into a half-full one. Positive thinking is not about ignoring problems. It’s about changing your perception of negative experiences.

Here is a simple exercise to practice positive thinking:

  • Look at what you have achieved on a daily basis. Don’t look at what you could’ve done better
  • Every night write down 3 achievements
  • Try to analyse why they went well
  • Give yourself a compliment for your achievements.

We don’t always control the events in our lives, but we can train ourselves to be more optimistic. And it appears to be healthy too.


The secret of happiness

The secret of happiness

Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Most people will answer ‘no’ to this question. Yet we often want what we don’t have. And against better judgement, we sometimes hope that happiness lives on the other side of the fence too.

The commercial world thrives on selling happiness: it’s not the new phone, car or dress, but the dream of a better life that’s on offer. And we all fall for it, thinking that somehow we will be happier after the purchase.

The reason for this is that we’re not good at predicting what makes us happy. Unfortunately, happiness as a result of a treat, purchase, or even winning the lottery, is short-lived – probably less than three months. Spending money on others makes us happier than spending it on ourselves, according to a study published in Science magazine.

Interestingly, happy people enjoy themselves without expensive treats. One happiness study showed that it’s the simple, cost-free things in life that matter, like listening to music, reading a book, going swimming, or enjoying a hobby.

We can spend a lifetime searching for happiness, not knowing that it’s right on our doorstep – because we’re too busy looking at the grass on the other side of the fence.

What makes you happy? There’s a good chance that it’s an inexpensive, relaxing activity, or an act of kindness.

Live your dreams (don’t wait until tomorrow)

Live your dreams

Over the years I’ve known several people who became ill shortly after their retirement. I remember one hardworking business man who suddenly died after he signed off. He left his wife behind with the tickets for their world trip.

My personal motto is Live your dreams. Our emigration to Australia was part of our dream. My wife and I feel privileged that we have been able to find a place on earth where we are truly happy. I teach my kids to do what they love and to enjoy the journey.

It’s a recurring theme in discussions with patients: how to give passion a place in your life, now, not later. It is easy to do and can be as simple as blocking off a few designated hours every week.

But sometimes I forget. It’s easy to lose myself in daily routines, busy schedules and tight deadlines. The day-to day-business sometimes seems more important that my dreams. There are always plenty of reasons why not to do something I’m passionate about.

So I remind myself, like some businesses do by writing their mission and vision on the wall. My motto appears when I switch on my iPhone (see image).

Make that change in your life that makes you happier and healthier. Take up your old hobby again. Organise the trip you’ve been dreaming about. Whatever it is: start today. Don’t wait until tomorrow.