Category Archives: Habits

Why It Doesn’t Matter Much Whether You’re a Man or a Woman, for Happiness and Good Habits

genderWhen 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

Got the Urge to Do Some Spring-Cleaning? Avoid These 5 Classic Mistakes.

Spring CleaningIt’s spring! (In my part of the world, at least.) And with spring comes the urge to do some spring-cleaning. The warmer weather and the fresh breezes make me want my home to feel orderly, spacious, and clean.

So far, I’ve tackled three kitchen cabinets, a closet, and my pile of white t-shirts. It feels great.

One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command. I write about this connection in Better Than Before, in The Happiness Project, and inHappier at Home. (All New York Times bestsellers, I can’t resist adding).

This connection fascinates me; in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box is trivial, and yet such things weigh us down more than they should. And clearing clutter is so energizing and cheering!

I’ve learned the hard way, however, to avoid these classic mistakes during spring-cleaning, or clutter-clearing generally:

Continue reading

Are You Clutter-Blind? Or Do You Know Someone Who Is?

4494987374_36e21d0849_bOne thing that continues to surprise me about the nature of good habits and happiness is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. More, really, than it should.

In the context of life of a happy life, something like a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box seems trivial—and it is trivial—and yet I find that I get a disproportionate charge of energy and good cheer from clearing clutter.

An orderly environment makes me feel more in control of my life, and if this is an illusion, it’s a helpful illusion.

Many people feel that way, and even people who thrive on a little chaos tend to have a limit, and enjoy orderliness to some degree.

Oblivious to Clutter

However, there’s a group of people who seem oblivious to clutter. They don’t appear to see it at all. Just as some people are color-blind, these folks are clutter-blind.

“Clutter-blind” doesn’t apply to the people who can stand to see dirty dishes scattered around, because they know if they wait, a spouse will collect the dishes — perhaps complaining all the while; see these crucial facts about shared work.

The fact is, very often, people in a couple or in a group have different levels of tolerance for clutter, and the ones with the least tolerance end up doing the most tidying, and the ones with more tolerance end up doing less. Again, this is a problem of shared work. However, in most cases, the messier ones would eventually cave and do some clutter-clearing, too. They want to be in environments that are reasonably orderly (though others might disagree by what is “reasonable”).

But some people don’t seem to register clutter, ever. A friend told me, “My husband never notices anything. As an experiment, when we got back from a trip, I left a suitcase full of his dirty clothes right in front of the front door, so he’d have to step over it to get in the house. I wanted to see how long he’d put up with it.  After a month, I called off the experiment and dealt with the suitcase myself.”

Have you found anything that works?

Continue reading

Are You a Worrier? Three Tips to Worry Less.

8422339152_4403e7cd77_zI worry to some extent, of course, but I don’t think I worry as much as a lot of people.

Many people worry about how much they worry!

Today, the New York Times had an interesting article by Roni Caryn Rabin, “Worried? You’re Not Alone.

In it, Rabin points out several intriguing findings in a Liberty Mutual Insurance research paper, the “Worry Less Report.”

Apparently Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). People worry less as they grow older.

Some people — for instance, like my sister Elizabeth — feel that if they do worry about something, they’ll somehow prevent a bad thing from happening. Rabin points out, very sensibly, “Researchers say this notion is reinforced by the fact that we tend to worry about rare event, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen, but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.”

Rabin also distinguishes between “productive worry,” which helps us solve a problem, and worry where you’re just, well, stewing in worry.

According to the report, here are some ways to tackle worrying: Continue reading

“There Is in This World No Function More Important Than That of Being Charming.”

1346726316_a91f3a31b9_m“There is in this world no function more important than that of being charming. The forest glade would be incomplete without the humming-bird. To shed joy around, to radiate happiness, to cast light upon dark days, to be the golden thread of our destiny, and the very spirit of grace and harmony, is not this to render a service?”

— Victor Hugo, Toilers of the Sea

A thoughtful reader sent me this quotation. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines, from G. K. Chesterton, which I quote several times in The Happiness Project“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

Though I must say, it seems to be slightly overstating the case to say that there’s no function more important than being charming. I think I can think of a couple of functions that are more important.

Agree, disagree?

Continue reading

Sleep to Win! Seven Ways to Gain the Competitive Edge

sleep

By Dr, James B. Maas and Haley A. Davis

Whether you’re a pro-athlete or haven’t run, or hit or touched a ball since your high school days, you have no idea how your abilities can dramatically improve overnight. And the best part is – it’ll be the easiest and most enjoyable change to your workout routine. All you need to do is get more sleep!

Most people don’t realize how significant a role sleep plays in daytime performance. Research regarding sleep and athletics is gaining more attention than ever and many new findings are coming to light. Here are seven ways to get the right quality and quantity of sleep to maintain your competitive advantage. Continue reading

How Far Will Your Arrow Fly: Reaching Beyond the Possibilities

sky

By Dan Castro

The next time you are tempted to say, “I’m out of options.  I’m defeated.  There is nothing left that I can do,” step outside on a clear, starry night.  Look up.  Recall that at one point in time, humans believed that all that existed was that which we could see with our own eyes.  The earth, the sun, the moon, and a sea of stars.      

As you look up at the stars, single out one star among all you can see.  Focus on it.  Zoom in on it with your mind’s eye.  Now mentally transport yourself to it and stand on it in your very own specially designed space suit.  Look deep into space.  Deeper.  Into the inky black night.   Isolate the darkest spot in the night sky.   

Now let your mind wander through that dark spot to the furthest edge of space you can imagine.  Stand there at that edge and reach out your hand.  What do you feel? Continue reading

5 Quick, Easy Habits That Have Actually Strengthened My Relationships.

love-urban-300x197When people think about changing their habits, they often think of the diet-and-exercise family of habits.

Also, as much as I personally love habits, I know that many people associate habit-change with having to make a lot of effort.

But habits don’t have to take a lot of time or energy to form, and they can help us with any aspect of our lives. I have to admit, even now, after spending years thinking about habits, I’m astonished by how much a truly tiny habit can boost happiness.

For instance, here are some examples of a few quick, easy habits that I’ve adopted to strengthen my relationships. They’re all practically effortless, they all make me happier.

These kinds of habits are particularly helpful to me, because the truth is, I can get lost in my own head, and become so focused on crossing something off my to-do list that I neglect to make time to connect with the people who are most important to me. In the tumult of everyday life, I find it all too easy to overlook what really matters.

So I’ve made these habits: Continue reading

Save Money With Tips From The TV

tv

Keeping track of personal finances and establishing responsible money-management habits is never easy. Just the thought of creating a budget or learning about financial planning makes some people’s heads spin, making it difficult to move forward onto bigger and better experiences in the future.

There are plenty of books and websites out there with helpful tips and tricks, but with television still being the second-biggest time commitment in the lives of everyday Americans, it’s there we turn our attention to today. Here are just a few great programs that give viewers practical advice and information to improve their financial well-being: Continue reading

Eating Clean: How to Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body

NoriWrapsLaurenVoloMy journey to eating clean started ten years ago when I was suffering from numerous health issues and throughout the last ten years I have learned how to heal my body from a range of symptoms and diagnoses from Lyme disease to Hypothyroidism and C.Diff colitis. I started my website, TheHealthyApple.com to help people suffering from everyday minor symptoms such as a headache to ailments and chronic illness; my hope is that my new book helps change lives and gives people hope that they can get to the root cause of their illness and find the light at the end of the tunnel. Something I learned, that no doctor ever told me (and I’ve been to over 500 doctors) is the fact is that nothing changed until I started to clean up my food and my environment (personal care products, cleaning products and beauty products) because our skin is our biggest organ- so it’s important to look not just at what we are putting in our bodies but also what we are putting on our bodies, as well. I also realized that I had to put my health in my own hands and be my own doctor to navigate through the world from illness to wellness and vitality!

In my new cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body, I talk about how to start cleaning up your food and your life from chemicals and toxins that are in our everyday lifestyles from our food to our cleaning products. Detox is not what you think. In this book I outline what you need to do to detox your body on a daily basis and how to eat clean to support your overall health. I want to show you that eating clean feels amazing- not because you should, but because once you see life this way, you’ll never go back. There’s not a processed piece of candy I’d eat to give up for how incredible I feel. If more people realized what an important role they plan in their own health, they could change the quality of their life forever.

This cookbook is filled with over 200 plant-based recipes that are free of gluten, dairy, soy, refined sugar, eggs, white flours and processed ingredients. No xantan gum, no binders, no fake ingredients- all pure, whole foods. And you’re going to love every single recipe! Continue reading

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