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Category Archives: lifestyle

The Cold Hard Truth about Happiness

Happiness is a choice.

Not a “Folgers commercial” type of choice. You’ve seen it.  It goes something like this: The person gets out of bed and looks as if they are saying, “Today, I’m going to be HAPPY!” (Cue the sun rising over snow-capped mountains and a golden retriever jumping around their legs on the front porch of a palatial log cabin over-looking a dewy meadow.)

It just doesn’t work that way.

If your life is off track, that’s just a really hard thing to do.  And then we feel guilty because we’re “supposed to be” grateful and in control of our thoughts and moods, because happiness is a choice, right? Many self-help books and blogs will mention choosing gratitude and happiness but if the deeper meaning of that idea is misunderstood it can lead to a futile effort that leads to more guilt.

The cold hard truth is that happiness is a choice…but then you have to make that choice again…and then another time after that.

I worked with an accountant years ago. He was getting ready to retire.  He had a wonderful family, grandchildren, and a beautiful home with lots of financial security. Someone commented to him how lucky he was to have such a lovely family, such a happy life.

He smiled and agreed.

Then after that person left he exclaimed that it made him really angry when people said he was lucky to have his life. He said luck had nothing to do with it. He went on to explain how he and his wife had both worked really hard to make that life and that it took a lot of hard choices along the way.

We aren’t in control of everything that happens to us in our lives, but we do have much more control over our happiness than we give ourselves credit for.

It’s our choices that pave the way to happiness.  Everyday choices made again and again, day after day, moment by moment that lead us to a happier place.

It’s a choice:

  • To eat in a way that supports a healthy you
  • To go to bed at an hour that allows you to have a good mood and energy the next day
  • To say something positive instead of negative
  • To find the lesson in criticism
  • To walk instead of watch
  • To be different when it’s hard
  • To speak up when you’re the minority

The cold hard truth is that choosing happiness is more like hiking up that snow-capped mountain in our fabled commercial. Choosing happiness is hard work. It’s a step by step, daily decision-making process, but the hard work is worth it when you get there!

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

I had to take some time off this year to get back on track to my own happiness. It’s been a journey that I’ll share more about in the coming weeks.

Kel at women making changes

Photo credit: Kel Wilson

3 Responses to The Cold Hard Truth about Happiness

  1. Carol says:

    Welcome back! I’ve missed you.

    You are so right about these choices happening over and over – and the importance of small choices which over time make a big difference.

  2. BeeNZ says:

    I agree that happiness is often a choice and needs to be worked on if a person has habits of negative thinking. I will add that things will ALWAYS happen that will eat into your happiness. You can of course lessen their occurrence by planning and having good practices, but even then, as you say, the unexpected will crop up. This is not negative thinking – it is just life.

    The only true way, in my opinion, to be happy, or at least content, through everything is by the practice of acceptence and living in the present moment and through not having mental attachment/neediness to anything or anyone. This doesn’t mean (as many people think) that you become passive or you love any less, but that you give up trying to control or anticipate things you have no control over. You ‘go with the flow’ a bit more and when anything happens (good or bad), you accept it as life’s rich experience and know that it will one day go as it one day arrived into your life.

    It is also our labels that we attach to people and experiences that make things worse – if we accept negative experiences as part of life’s rich tapestry and things we just have to go through, and on the positive side, things we grow and gain experience from, then that giving up of resistance to the situation makes it easier. Granted this is a LOT harder with very personal experiences. Learning this mode of thinking is an ongoing skill to be learnt and it takes many years to master but in my opinion is a journey worth taking. :)

  3. Karen says:

    Welcome back, Kel. We’ve missed you!

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’tis the season

This time of year, it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness, to keep rushing, to think that hectic and frantic are the signs of the season. Maybe it’s no surprise that colds and flus seem to be a part of the mix–it’s one way to “force” yourself to slow down a littleContinue Reading

One Response to ’tis the season

  1. Looking forward to joining you on your getting started series!

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rebuilding a life

Growing up, going to school, marriage, giving birth, all these things are the building blocks of our lives. But what happens when you realize that you aren’t happy with the structure of that life? What if that structure you built is taken away from you? I was left with these questions a few years ago.Continue Reading

One Response to rebuilding a life

  1. […] in our lives that is distraction free.  In my life and that of my co-creators, we have experienced the amazing, self-perpetuating impact this can have.  This is our way to provide this experience to […]

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what not winning the lottery let me see

Like many people in the US, last week I indulged in a little Powerball-induced fantasy. I had quite a few ideas of what I would do if I suddenly had millions of dollars, some more outlandish than others! One of our family dreams/goals is to design and build a house, and I actually spent someContinue Reading

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How I accidentally accomplished something big…

…or, that one time I got rid of over a thousand things. You might remember that Kel set herself a goal of getting rid of 500 things in her home. I never set a goal like that, but I found that rearranging my office to better suit my needs naturally led me to go throughContinue Reading

2 Responses to How I accidentally accomplished something big…

  1. Nin-Carol says:

    Yes! A mindful home. That’s exactly what I’m working toward. Thank you so much, Tracy!

    And, it’s funny. Between the beautiful woman post (I’m working, um, procrastinating, on my own beautiful woman post right now. It’s the next tab over on my bar) and this one, you’ve nailed where I am right now. I’ve gone through my closet so many times but I’m only now really *getting* it – and getting rid of the perfectly serviceable things that don’t really fit (I don’t really fit a size exactly) or make me look washed out.

    Maybe in another year or two, I’ll have this part of it whipped into shape. :P)

    • Tracy Richardson says:

      I think it’s like an onion. (Shrek was right! LOL!) We think we got it, but there’s more to do. I keep finding more to go. I’m glad I’m not doing it alone in the world!

      I’m particularly glad to hear you’re going through your closet as you are. I think not quite fitting a size…and yes, I hear you!…or feeling flattered by the things we wear is somehow grating. Not as painful as a cheese grater, but over time just as eroding to our selves. Dang it, since when was there one size and shape of women? Since NEVER.

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The October Tech Decluttering Challenge…Now What?

October was dedicated to cleaning up my tech clutter.  All things related to my computers and my desk were the target of my scrutiny.  What I didn’t plan on were 2 surprise visits to Wisconsin to visit my 16 year-old daughter who’s in a one-semester boarding school.  I spent roughly the first two weeks ofContinue Reading

2 Responses to The October Tech Decluttering Challenge…Now What?

  1. […] week Kel and I talked about her decision to extend her Tech Clutter Challenge. I personally was all for her doing that. She was enjoying what she was getting out of it, and I […]

  2. carolburris says:

    I’m with you on this one, as it will be three and a half weeks that I’ve been gone. In fact, I’ll probably give myself all of the month of November. :)

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Creating Clarity Challenge update

At the beginning of the month, Kel posted about the October Creating Clarity Challenge, which is tackling our tech clutter. I thought I’d give you a glimpse at how I’m working through it, and what I’ve realized because of it. That is an actual screenshot of my desktop, taken in mid-September. Nice and tidy, isn’tContinue Reading

2 Responses to Creating Clarity Challenge update

  1. Nin-Carol says:

    I so hear you. And I’m also making small steps to get things better arranged for me. After all, I spent an hour and a half looking for something Tuesday – which, by the way, I found last night – and then some time this morning looking for something I saw while looking Tuesday – and still can’t find today.

    That being said, I have organized some of those things from Tuesday so there is a net gain – and a lot of motivation to make it happen!

    My electronic mess is still a mess, though. Not managing this challenge very well – yet.

  2. Tracy says:

    I am pretty certain I won’t be “done” when October ends, either. My mom is coming out for 10 days and I’ll be darned if I’m spending a lot of time on my computer while she’s here! But I figure that 1) anything we do this month means we end it in better shape than we started, and 2) every little thing done now is one less thing we’ve put off until that never-happens “later”.

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30 Small Steps to Tackle Office Clutter With Humor-A Guest Post

The following is a comment sent to me by one of our long-time readers, Andi-Roo.  The really hilarious part (besides her list that follows!) is that she sent this to me the day before we posted our list for tackling tech clutter for the month of October.  I guess it is true:  great minds think alike! 😉 Continue Reading

3 Responses to 30 Small Steps to Tackle Office Clutter With Humor-A Guest Post

  1. Aw, guys — you turned it into my offhand comment into a great post! Thanks so much for the encouragement to “do the work”. Have I told you lately how much I LOVE your blog?!?

  2. miri says:

    OOH, who was peeking in my office? Anywhat, thanks for making the list for me!

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Paper Trail–4 Lessons I Learned From My September Paper Declutter

“We tend to think of decorating as adding things, but one of the best ways to get started on your living-space autobiography is by subtracting – ridding your home of objects that make you feel bad.” –Martha Beck (Note: I did not start my changes by decluttering. I started by adding something I love toContinue Reading

6 Responses to Paper Trail–4 Lessons I Learned From My September Paper Declutter

  1. Nin-Carol says:

    I guess I’m dealing with paper clutter, too, this month, in the form of a huge pile of quilting magazines. What I’m doing (right now, in fact!) is scanning what I want to keep and then taking the rest to my quilt guild meetings where other quilters are happy to take them home. What doesn’t get taken after two months goes to the library book sale. I think I’ve gone through about 2/3 of my pile now. It’s only going to clear off a small part of one book shelf, but the psychological space is much bigger than that.

    • Kel Wilson says:

      I agree with your last statement so much Carol. The psychological space created by dealing wtih some of this stuff is enormous. So many books, magazines and piles that I would look at and think, “I really need to…(read it, save the pictures that I want, file, etc.)

      I find it interesting that this month has resulted in the most noticable amount of peace and simplicity in my life.
      Kel

  2. Thank you for sharing my post, Kel. I’m glad you found it helpful!

    • Kel Wilson says:

      Alyson,
      I’m not sure you remember, but we met in the hallway in Portland at World Domination just before entering the class rooms. :)
      I adore your blog and have found it SO helpful.
      Thank you for all the tips and help you give.
      Kel

  3. Isn’t it nice to have everything you need for a certain task in one spot? And where you know it should be? I am enjoying having all my crochet stash (yarn, books, etc) all in one room and organized! Kudos to you, Kel, for getting all that paper weeded down and under control!

  4. […] paper clutter-files, books, magazines, art word, receipts, and general piles of white stuff.  You can read more about this category here, and here. […]

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a decluttering conversation with Kel and Tracy

We decided to step out of our comfort zone this week and do an audio post!  Hearing your recorded voice is always a little weird but mine really is this time. I have a pretty bad sinus infection, and it sounds pretty hoarse. But since being perfect has nothing to do with making change and pushing your boundariesContinue Reading

7 Responses to a decluttering conversation with Kel and Tracy

  1. Nin-Carol says:

    Loved hearing your voices and the give and take of the conversation. Helps make you into real people. I also liked the summary that you had in the blog to go with the tape.

    • Kel Wilson says:

      Thanks Carol!
      We were a little nervous about doing it but thought we would just give it a go and ended up having fun doing it.
      :)
      Kel

  2. Did I hear the word “Beach”??!! So jealous!

    I enjoyed your conversation and, like Carol, it was nice to hear your voices. I may have to listen again, though. I’m such a lousy listener that I rarely remember the high points unless I take notes! Other than that word “beach,” of course! That I will remember.

    • Kel Wilson says:

      I KNOW! It’s totally unfair that she is there on a beach and we aren’t there with her! LOL
      😉
      So happy you enjoyed it. I tried to highlight some of what we were talking about to help with that. I think there is a way to get a transcript of the conversation. We’ll have to see if we can do that next time.
      Kel

  3. Bronwyn says:

    It’s a great motivator hearing your podcast on decluttering. I’m ramping myself up to do a SERIOUS declutter of my home. I have done some decluttering over the past few years but it has been too slow and I’m tired of ‘stuff’ taking up my visual and mental space! I have finally found that actually setting up a schedule with set times to do things during the day works better than just making a list. Also dealing with office or organisation tasks 1st in my day works better than doing cleaning 1st and the rest later. My mind is too tired later in the day and I get a greater buzz out of making progress earlier on because lets face it, housework is ongoing and is often a bit like treading water! I am not naturally organised and can be quite a big procrastinator so I am so happy this works for me. After homeschooling for some years I finally have some time to play catch-up on all those major tasks I’ve put off and have decided to focus my attention on just 3 main areas of tasks I have to do (aside from housework) and decluttering is top of that list. When any big task is completed and only then, can I add something else. Aside from that I have printed off your workbook and plan to make ‘me’ time during the day :o)

  4. Kel Wilson says:

    Girl Friend!
    You said, “I’m tired of ‘stuff’ taking up my visual and mental space!”
    I am SO with you on that! That is the exact reason I started getting serious about decluttering.
    I think your thoughts on house work in the afternoon/evening is brilliant! It doesn’t require the same amount of brain work as the other stuff so it’s easier to putter with it then. Love that!
    So happy you have joined us here!
    😉
    Kel

  5. […] been to eliminate some of the things that don’t really matter so much.  This year I have “cleared out” 500+ things, 100+ books, and pounds of paper from my […]

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