While warmer temperatures and sunnier days have many of us breaking out the short sleeved t-shirts, it also makes us notice all the clutter and dust that has collected in our homes over the winter months. Giving your living space a good spring cleaning lets you hit the refresh button, helping you feel less mentally cluttered and ready to take on the year. It can be hard knowing where to get started, but by picking a task and just getting going you can make the most of your spring cleaning efforts. Start with these five easy ways to get started helping your surroundings to feel cleaner and more conducive to productive living. Continue reading
“Temperament does not predestine one man to sanctity and another to reprobation. All temperaments can serve as the material for ruin or for salvation…It does not matter how poor or how difficult a temperament we may be endowed with. If we make good use of what we have, if we make it serve our good desires, we can do better than another who merely serves his temperament instead of making it serve him.”
–Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
This passage from Merton caught my attention, because of my Four Tendencies framework for personality.
In that framework, I divide all of humanity into four types: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. (Want to find out what you are? The Quiz is here. Almost 500,000 people have taken it.) Continue reading
Whether you write all the time, or only occasionally, you’ve probably thought about how to write better.
One of the best books about writing is The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White. It has been in print for forty years.
I don’t know anything about Strunk, but I’m a huge fan of the writing of E. B. White. I love his children’s books of course — masterpieces like Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan — and I also love his brilliant essays, like Here Is New York, and the Letters of E. B. White.
So I pay close attention to whatever he says about style.
I’m very interested in the role of TV-watching in our happiness. After all, after sleeping and work, it’s the biggest consumer of the world’s time.
So I was interested to see that new research suggests that for couples who don’t have lots of mutual friends, watching the same TV show (or reading the same book or going to the same movie) can help both people feel that they inhabit in the same social world.
It turns out that couples who have lots of mutual friends tend to have the strongest bonds, and for those who don’t have a lot of mutual friends, having “shared media experiences” helps them to feel connected. Continue reading
“We conceive…a sort of gratitude for those inanimated objects, which have been the causes of great or frequent pleasure to us. The sailor, who, as soon as he got ashore, should mend [build] his fire with the plank upon which he had just escaped from a shipwreck, would seem to be guilty of an unnatural action. We should expect that he would rather preserve it with care and affection, as a monument that was, in some measure, dear to him.”
–Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
I love this passage, but the old-fashioned language may make it difficult to understand Smith’s point: when some object has done us great service, we’re reluctant to get rid of it.
Do you feel this way? I sure do. Continue reading
“One lives in the naïve notion that later there will be more room than in the entire past.”
–Elias Canetti, The Human Province
I continually remind myself of this truth. Too often, I tell myself, “I’ll have time for this when summer comes,” “Things will slow down in the fall, and I’ll be able to tackle this,” “Next year, I’ll do it.”
No. Now is the time to do the things that are important to me.
It’s false to believe that there will be more time in my future than there has in my past.
How about you? Do you promise yourself, “I’ll do this — later?”
Recently I had a bad night of tossing and turning. I was up for a few hours, then overslept the next morning.
And while I was lying there, unable to sleep, I knew I was violating some of the beat-the-insomnia advice that experts give. Though, true, to give myself credit, I was following some advice.
These tips were on my mind, because I’d just read Andrea Petersen’s Wall Street Journal piece “Middle-of-the-Night Insomnia Blues.”
I violated one of the most basic back-to-sleep tips — the tip to get up, rather than toss and turn.
If you have trouble with insomnia, here are some of the tips from the article: Continue reading
How many times each day do you try to work yourself up to tackle some undesirable task? If you’re like me – several times.
For instance, I’ve been refining my Four Tendencies Quiz. Almost 500,000 people have taken the quiz — which is extraordinary — and I’ve made adjustments to it, along the way, to make it better.
Analyzing the Quiz results takes a very different kind of brain work from the kind that I usually do — and it’s not the kind of brain work I like to do. And so I put off that work, and put it off, and put it off. And then when I finally do the work, I get through it quickly and am so relieved to have it done. So why procrastinate?
If you face similar struggles, try these strategies: Continue reading
When it comes to figuring out happiness and good habits, I don’t think it matters much if you’re a man or a woman.
It’s easy to assume that certain aspects of ourselves matter more than they do. For instance, birth order. People believe that birth order has a big influence on personality — but research has disproved this. Birth order just doesn’t matter for personality.
Now, whether you’re a man or a woman matters in some situations, sure.
But in general, in my observation, for any particular person, individual differences swamp gender differences. Continue reading