Have you ever heard the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy?” That great quote comes from former President Teddy Roosevelt. And I completely agree. But this week I realized that comparison is also a thief to feeling grateful—and without gratitude, how can we feel joy? Of course, like so many issues of awareness, this seems obvious. The key is to remember it on a daily basis. Because if you are anything like me, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of seeing and comparing what others have or are doing—and then overlooking the good in my own life. Fortunately this week, two great examples popped up to drive this idea home. Even better perhaps, they happened to others rather than me. Ever notice how we can often catch behaviors in other people far more easily than in ourselves? [Read more…]
Are you a victim of “lifestyle creep?” No matter how good a rightsizer you are, and I tend to think I’m usually pretty good at it, chances are you occasionally find yourself slipping into the creep now and then. I know I do. That’s because in our culture, nearly all of us are continually lulled into slowly but surely living just a little more comfortably, a little more extravagantly, a little more indulgently than in the days, weeks and months before. How does that work?
Slowly over time, any spending that starts out as a splurge—like a $4.50 latte at Starbucks to treat ourselves, a pricey bottle of wine to celebrate, or going out to dinner on a special occasion—can gradually become an almost daily necessity if we make them routine. Those acts are often triggered when we start making a good salary or get a raise. After all, we have the extra money, right? And as that “creep” of spending just a little more than yesterday becomes a new norm, we often find ourselves needing more and more such “rewards” to keep us happy and satisfied. If we aren’t careful, we can reach retirement with nothing to show for it. Fortunately, I believe a good cure for the dreaded lifestyle creep is to stay as mindful and focused on rightsizing as possible.
Every summer for over 25 years Thom and I have rented a house in a small mountain town named Idyllwild for a month. Originally planned as a way to escape the summer heat in our desert valley home, it quickly became an annual retreat of sorts. This sojourn helps us to recapture the joy of summer, hike familiar local trails, and to connect more with nature. The trees, the nearby running creek, the privacy and the quiet are something that feels as familiar as any place we have ever lived. [Read more…]
I don’t normally think of myself as anxious. I tend to see the bright side of most things and utilize lots of techniques I’ve picked up over the years to handle stress. But truth be told, every now and then something will happen, and I find my mind spinning out of control. Certain triggers will spark, and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a crazy loop spinning like a monkey in my head. How about you? Fortunately this week I listened to an online lecture explaining how our minds work in relationship to habit, addiction and obsession. During that talk I learned about the biological process our minds typically use. Even better I discovered a fairly simple way to reduce any thoughts of worry, fear, anxiety or attachment—including those crazy monkey thoughts in the middle of the night. So, if you prefer a good night’s sleep, or are interested in letting go of any fears or stress that might plague you during the day, you might find it helpful as well.
Most of us are uncomfortable talking about our money. I know I usually am. After all, few of us think we have all we could ever need—even the super wealthy. And if we are lucky enough to feel fairly comfortable about it, we don’t usually bring it up because we don’t want to appear insensitive to those who have less. Or maybe worse, we don’t want to jinx what we have. But, is it possible that how we feel about money is directly related to how we feel about life in general and ourselves in particular? In other words, is our relationship to our money happy, affectionate and at peace? Or is it sad, fearful and distrustful? Getting to the heart of those questions is the focus of a new book by Ken Honda titled, Happy Money—The Japanese Art of Making Peace with Your Money. And some of his perspectives may surprise you. [Read more…]
Ever had someone say something to you that felt like a punch in your gut? Even worse, ever have someone you care about do something that felt like a sharp knife in your heart? Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my extreme reactions are now further and further apart. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every now and then I still react in ways that are viscerally painful. Then this last week I was listening to a podcast interview of author Brene Brown and she shared something I found brilliant—as well as a perfect exercise to counteract those painful moments that catch us by surprise. And that practice is to remind myself not to believe my “shitty first draft.”
Happy Birthday SMART Living 365! Yes, it was exactly eight years ago today (April 26th, 2011) that I conceived the idea of creating a blog around the letters S-M-A-R-T. In case you don’t know it, those letters are all part of an acronym that stands for Sustainable-Meaningful-Aware-Responsible & Thankful. At the time I wanted to create something that would help me focus on, and then write about, topics that are very important to me. I didn’t actually write my first post until May and it took me another month to get the site up and running. But, here I am, eight years later.
One of my favorite parables is the story of the light wolf and the dark wolf. Most of us know the light wolf as those parts in the world and in ourselves that are kind, loving, peaceful and hopeful. At the same time, the dark wolf represents all that is angry, fearful, greedy or hateful. Which one is most prominent in our lives? Simply—the one we feed. In other words, whatever wolf we focus on the most—nourishing it with our attention, time, words and Facebook posts, that’s the one that grows and multiplies. The good news is of course that even if we realize we’ve been feeding the wrong wolf for far too long, it’s never too late to make our light wolf strong, healthy and the biggest part of our lives.
This parable came to my mind after finishing a new book by Mary Pipher called, Women Rowing North—Navigating Life’s Currents & Flourishing As We Age. Some of us may remember Pipher as the author of Reviving Ophelia. That book, written back in the 1990s, shared thoughts on the [Read more…]
If you opened the SMART Living Blog post email last week you probably noticed it was different. Rather than publish a full article like usual, I decided to take a short trip down to Baja Mexico with Thom and enjoy myself. And while that might not seem radical if you haven’t followed SMART Living 365 for long. But it was actually the first time in over six years that I’ve given myself permission to not post an article. And guess what? The world did not collapse and (thankfully!) you all did not unsubscribe. What it did do was allow to me pause and consider why I have felt so driven to stick to such a strict self-imposed schedule. More importantly, it reminded me that my definition of success and happiness as I enter my third-act of life is the guidepost that I want to follow at the present time. And perhaps my thoughts on this are something all of us can use regardless of our age. [Read more…]