4. Thank Your Items for Their Service (Then Give Them Away)
Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, offers this strange but effective tactic: Say goodbye and thank you to items that you need to let go of. Sometimes sentimentality is the root of a lot of clutter, so think utility first and ditch the guilt. Thank your old coat for keeping you warm, your kids’ stuffed animals they no longer play with for bringing them joy, and your collection of duplicate computer cables for connecting your stuff once upon a time. Then you can move on. It might also help to think “this isn’t my stuff” when you’re decluttering.
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Serotonin: The Feel Good Hit for High Status
The most important neurotransmitter connected to status is serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate appetite and sex drive, as well as one’s mood. Individuals with low serotonin levels are often cranky, aggressive, and depressed, which is why they are sometimes prescribed antidepressants designed to boost this neurotransmitter.
Serotonin levels are influenced by genetics and lifestyle factors like stress, sleep, and diet. But one of the biggest factors impacting the amount of serotonin in the brain is whether you think others perceive you as having high status. Serotonin feels good, and whenever we experience boosts in our status, serotonin floods our brain, and we become more confident, relaxed, cooperative, and pro-social. That groovy, connected feeling encourages us to seek more status.
Get moving. No you don’t have to do an hour of cardio or run 4 miles each morning (unless of course you want to!). A short, targeted workout, or even a walk with your pet, can energize you for the entire morning — and yield fitness results. Research shows that getting in just 21 minutes of activity a day (150 minutes per week) results in reduced sleepiness throughout the day. Plus, knowing you’ve done something good for your body (and maybe your dog’s too) can set a positive tone for your entire day.
So here are the rules I’m going to try to follow:
One browser tab open. I want to focus on reading one thing, responding to one email at a time, doing one task in my browser at a time. I realize that I might have to open multiple tabs to work on something, and that’s fine, but if I have tabs open that don’t have anything to do with my current task, I’ll bookmark them for later, add to Instapaper, or add the task to my to-do list.
Know what I’m focusing on. When I open a tab, I have to consciously pause and think about what I’m trying to accomplish. That might be looking up some info, or writing something, or answering an email … whatever it is, I have to try to pause and make sure I’m being conscious about it.
To do this, we must spend more time with happy go-lucky people and less time with those that drag us back towards our negative tendencies, whether that is cynicism, gossiping, or belittling others.
Spend more time with the people that make you smile. Mix it up with the kids at your next family event. Enjoy your weekend afternoons doing anything but work. Let go and laugh away your stress.
As you fill more of your time with the good in life you’ll also be tempted by less of the bad. But if an alcoholic walks into a bar, he’ll drink. If a busybody goes for coffee with the town gossip, tongues will wag unproductively.
Enough is enough. Temptations, obstacles, and bad behavior do not serve us. Eliminate them from your life.
Take the high road.
Your Friends Should Respect You And Your Choices
Frugal Hound’s friends respect her choices
Real friends who are worth spending time with will respect your life choices. Mr. FW and I have discovered over the course of our extreme frugality quest that being honest with our friends and family about our financial proclivities goes over very well.
Our friends are clued into what we value in life, and they’re respectful of the decisions we make. We take a non-judgmental approach to discussing finances and our friends–many of whom spend money very differently than we do–have no problem with the choices we make. They respect the journey we’re on and we, in turn, respect the journey they’re on.
4. Store things off the kitchen counter. Messes attract messes and clutter attracts clutter. The better we get at storing clutter out of sight, the less likely it is to accumulate. The kitchen counter is a good example. When countertops become an acceptable place to store things, more things begin to collect there. But a clean countertop communicates calm and order, promotes opportunity for its intended use, and is probably easier than you think.
We know what it is. It’s the stuff that constantly gets in our way because it is not where it belongs. It’s that disorderly mess of items that end up complicating even the simplest tasks. Papers, clothes, shoes, books, backpacks, dishes, gadgets, toys, bicycles, magazines, laundry, jackets, tools…you get the idea. It’s anything and everything that’s in the way because it has not been put away properly.
While we may excuse our clutter as a lack of storage or being too busy, its threat to our life’s priorities is greater than most of us realize. We try to dismiss it as no big deal – a mere inconvenience – when, in fact, it is robbing us of the valuable time and energy we should be leveraging toward more productive purposes.