Many people who find SMART Living 365 through Google or other online search engines are looking for information about Smart technologies. Others might be attracted to the blog thinking it has to do with intelligence or doing the right thing. Yet, if you stick around and read an article or two, you quickly realize that SMART is actually an acronym for Sustainable-Meaningful-Aware-Responsible and Thankful—and those ideas are what I mainly explore here. Plus, now and then I come across information that ties brain science to awareness. So when I found a book at the library titled, You Are Not So SMART, how could I not check it out? My big take-away? Clearly I am not as smart as I like to think I am (none of us are really!) mainly because who we think we are, our memories, and how we see the world often has very little to do with reality. Another way of looking at it—believe or like it, or not—we are continually making it up! [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.
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.”
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…]
One of the best things about reviewing new books for this blog is the opportunity to be exposed to titles and authors I would normally never select. Such is the case with The Book of Mistakes—9 Secrets To A Successful Future by Skip Prichard. My first reaction was, “What? Who wants to learn more about making mistakes?” But when I was told the book was a business parable I couldn’t resist because parables are a favorite of mine. After all, just about any message, when told well as a story, has the potential to offer insight and inspiration—even a book about mistakes. Plus, no matter what our age, or how we describe success, each of us can use positive reminders to create the kind of future we hope to live. [Read more…]
As I mentioned last week, I confess to watching a certain amount of television in my ofttimes. While I tend to avoid reality programing, I do admit that every now and then I flip on HGTV. A few of the shows I’ve seen in the past are, House Hunters, Love It Or List It, and The Property Brothers. Yet even though I realize that these shows are meant as entertainment, I still find my husband Thom and I asking ourselves: “What are those buyers thinking?” Or even worse, “Who can afford that kind of house—and why would they want to?” If you have ever watched one of these shows and reacted like us, you might also wonder if the messages being portrayed are actual “reality” and whether the shows should come with a disclaimer attached. With that in mind, I came up with five SMART disclaimers that I think every program on HGTV should include. [Read more…]
As every writer knows, words matter. But what about the words that come out of our mouths or the words we hear in our heads when someone is talking? Perhaps one of the greatest things we can learn, and teach one another, is how to speak and listen with empathy, kindness and connection. Sound simple? It’s not. In fact, after reading Say What You Mean—A Mindful Approach To Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer, I am convinced that I have much to learn and years to practice. Ultimately it’s SMART to remember that communication, especially the mindful nonviolent kind, is far more than figuring out the right words to say in any given moment. Thankfully there are books like this that offer perspectives and tools to increase our awareness, fulfill our mutual needs, and build relationship.
Some of you might not know that I have been a licensed real estate broker for the last 35 years. While I did sell a number of homes in my time, I am a far better researcher than a salesperson. That’s why I first began writing about real estate, and then eventually created my own writing business from there. And although I have written volumes about that topic over the years, I gradually transitioned into writing about other subjects I enjoy even more. Still, real estate has been very good to my family, many of our friends, and where we hold our primary retirement funds. So it always surprises me when I read so little about the advantages of real estate investment as a great strategy for retirement. Why? Maybe there aren’t enough of us pointing out how real estate investing can be a golden goose for your retirement over stocks and other investments.