A positive change we can make in our lives, and the world, is how we eat. Amongst a number of chefs Jamie Oliver is transforming the way we feed ourselves, and our children. We love his Ted talk.
They say it only takes small changes to make a big difference. What has been the best lifestyle change you have made? Ours has been composting and growing our own veggies for our summer salads.
Last week we offered some ideas on how to spring clean and declutter your belongings; this week we turn inward to look at how we can declutter our minds. Do you ever feel exhausted just thinking about change?
It’s easy to procrastinate when we feel anxious about the amount of disruption and effort we’ll need to make lasting change. Decluttering our minds means letting go of these preconceived ideas and anxieties, which can then help us welcome in fresh thinking and opportunities. These authors are here to guide you towards greater clarity, focus and calm:
Declutter Your Mind by S J Scott and Barrie Davenport
Do you feel overwhelmed easily? As if your mind is spinning from too many thoughts? Do you find it hard to get motivated? Or feel there is too much negativity around you? If you answered YES to any of these then you may be experiencing mind clutter. Mind clutter gives rise to anxiety, stress and frustrations – issues that can only be solved by changing mindsets and behaviours. S J Scott and Barrie Davenport show how to use mindfulness techniques to declutter our thoughts, obligations, relationships and surroundings. Declutter Your Mind is concise and readable, packed with ideas and advice.
Unstuffed: Declutter your Home, Mind and Soul by Ruth Soukup
Unstuffed helps with spring-cleaning of both our physical and mental spaces. Following Ruth Soukup’s bestseller Living Well, Spending Less, Unstuffed continues to help us reduce those cravings for more of everything – possessions, relationships, responsibilities. She encourages us to think deeply, identify our most important values and prioritise accordingly, shedding unimportant stuff in the process. She also advises on how to deal with the guilt associated with letting go! For those interested in faith and spirituality, there is also a unique section on decluttering your spirit. Unstuffed comes with an app that offers further tips and support on this decluttering journey.
The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight
Sarah Knight penned this irreverent but heartfelt anti-self help guide when she realised her perfectionist “good girl” tendencies were the cause of her constant stress and anxiety. So she learned to give fewer f**ks – to feel OK about not being perfect, to say yes only to things she cared about. The result is letting go of everything except the things that actually matter. With a decluttered mind and fresh focus, Sarah Knight then takes us to the next level in Get Your Sh!t Together, which shows how to “win at life” – start prioritising and doing the things you actually want to do, while still managing all the sh*t you have to do.
Let it Out: a Journey through Journaling by Katie Dalebout
Journaling can be as simple as jotting down a To-Do List, or as complex as expressing your innermost feelings. In either case, it is a powerful way of relieving a load from your mind. Let it Out is both an inspirational story and a how-to guide to Journaling. Katie Dalebout has been journaling since her teens, discovering that her writing can be a plan, a review, therapy as well as life coach. She credits journaling in helping her to recover from an eating disorder. After sharing her life story in the Introduction, Katie sets out a range of journaling topics / exercises to suit different moods and purposes. Katie’s young age and experiences make this a great book to share with the teens / young adults in your life.
Mindset: the New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
When Bill Gates writes a detailed (glowing) review of a book then you know it deserves attention. Carol Dweck is a psychology professor who popularised the idea of fixed mindset versus growth mindset. A fixed mindset assumes ability is innate and thus success is largely predetermined; while a growth mindset believes that ability is the result of effort and persistence, and thus can be attained by anyone. A growth mindset makes us more resilient and helps us maximise our potential. I’ve included Mindset here as inspiration of what can be achieved when our minds are unburdened by anxieties, bad habits and negative self-talk, which tend to contribute to a fixed mindset.
S J Scott advocated mindfulness in Declutter your Mind, but, if you’re like me, you might prefer to learn mindfulness while listening – this is where Smiling Mind comes in. Smiling Mind is a non-profit organisation aimed at making mindfulness techniques accessible to all ages. They have two excellent free apps (one for smart phones and a web-based app for computers) co-developed with psychologists and health professionals. These apps offer something for everyone – there are guided practices of different lengths, separately aimed at kids, teens as well as adults. My local school uses Smiling Mind in the classroom and I know many parents who use it in their children’s bedtime routines. The Smiling Mind website also offers tips on how to use mindfulness meditation at schools or in the workplace.
It’s Spring time and with it comes blossoms, daffodils, lambs … and that niggling sensation to get up and clean the house from top to bottom! But where do you start…and where do you stop?
There is a lifestyle revolution happening and it is gaining momentum at record speed. It’s called minimalism; the Millennial generation are leading the charge and it is changing the way we live, what we keep in our homes, how we treat those around us, how we perceive media, what we do to enrich our lives and how we focus on our passions. At its core, being a minimalist means investing your time in the important things in life.
And since it’s now the beginning of spring here in Australia, let’s look at how we can adopt a little minimalism in our annual spring cleaning.
Everything That Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn
What if everything you ever wanted isn’t what you actually want? Twenty-something, suit-clad, and upwardly mobile, Joshua Fields Millburn thought he had everything anyone could ever want. Until he didn’t anymore. Blindsided by the loss of his mother and his marriage in the same month, Millburn started questioning every aspect of the life he had built for himself. Then, he accidentally discovered a lifestyle known as minimalism… and everything started to change. That was four years ago. Since then, Millburn, now 32, has embraced simplicity. In the pursuit of looking for something more substantial than compulsory consumption and the broken American Dream, he jettisoned most of his material possessions, paid off loads of crippling debt, and walked away from his six-figure career. So, when everything was gone, what was left? Not a how-to book but a why-to book, Everything That Remains is the touching, surprising story of what happened when one young man decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately. Heartrending, uplifting, and deeply personal, this engrossing memoir is peppered with insightful (and often hilarious) interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn’s best friend of twenty years.
Berlin-based style blogger Anuschka Rees will change your attitude and approach to clothes and shopping with her new minimal method. She rejects the cliched fashion rules and instead encourages you to look in your wardrobe and at your life, as well as in the mirror. Using interactive prompts, infographic-style questionnaires and helpful check lists, all beautifully illustrated with photography and mood boards, create you own individual style guidelines that truly speak to you. A must-have guide that will help you discover and develop a strong sense of personal style.
One Year to an Organised Life by Regina Leeds
Who would you be if you felt at peace and had more time and money? An organised life enables you to have more freedom, less aggravation, better health, and to get more done. For nearly twenty years, Regina Leeds, named Best Organiser by Los Angeles magazine, has helped even the messiest turn their lives around. Anyone can get organised and she’ll prove it to you! One Year to an Organised Life is a unique week-by-week approach that you can begin at any time of year. Regina helps you break down tasks and build routines over time so that life becomes simple, not overwhelming. Regina reveals her magic formula for organising anything, plus her method to stop the chronic cycles of clutter, misplaced items, and lateness. Whether you’re living in chaos or just looking for new ways to simplify, this essential book will help you get the whole household organised and stay that way.
It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh
When Peter Walsh, organisational guru of TLC’s hit show Clean Sweep and a regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show, appeared on national television shows and told people how they could reclaim their lives from the suffocating burden of their clutter, the response was overwhelming. Peter’s unique approach helped people everywhere learn to let go of the emotional and psychological clutter that was literally and figuratively choking the life out of their homes. With his good humour and reassuring advice, Peter shows you how to face the really big question: What is the vision for the life you want to live? He then offers simple techniques and a step-by-step plan to assess the state of your home, prioritise your possessions, and let go of the clutter you have been holding on to that has kept you from living the life you imagine. The result is freed-up space, less stress, and more energy for living a happier, richer life every day.
Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionised homes and lives across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organised drawers and closets.She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep necessary items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.
Clean living is now widely considered a lifestyle approach that incorporates not only what we eat but how we live our lives, clean our homes and wash our face. There have been numerous books published on how to eat cleanly but here are our top 5 books on how to extend the clean living ethos into your home.
Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson
Bea Johnson transformed her family’s health, finances, and relationships for the better by reducing their waste to an astonishing half litre per year. It’s all down to the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order!). Zero Waste Home shows how these key principles can be applied to every area of your house from the kitchen to the kids’ room, and it’s packed with easy tips for all of us: from buying in bulk and clever meal planning to simply refusing unwanted freebies and using your plants as air fresheners. Johnson shows, by inspiring example, what green living looks like and offers a practical, step-by-step guide to diminishing your environmental footprint and improving your life.
Edible Garden Design by Jamie Durie
Practical and inspiring, Jamie Durie’s Edible Garden Design is a book for our times. As more and more of us recognise the environmental, financial and health benefits of growing our own food, all over the country flower beds are being transformed into vegie patches and empty windowsills into flourishing windowboxes. Here Jamie shows you how to create productive edible gardens that look great. He gives you the lowdown on the design function of each plant, and reveals how to incorporate edibles into even the smallest of outdoor spaces without sacrificing style. Whether you live in an apartment block, in a rental, home, by yourself or with a large family, this book will give you inspirational and delicious design ideas. Create your own edible utopia . . . no matter how big or small.
Simple Home: Calm Spaces for Comfortable Living by Sally Bailey
A beautifully illustrated guide to creating a home interior free from clutter and joy of keeping things simple. The simple home is calm and uncluttered, with each item carefully chosen. It’s in tune with the current desire to buy well-made, well-designed items that will grow old gracefully, and to create homes that are sustainable and stylish. This doesn’t mean a minimalist home – it’s about living in comfort in a carefully considered space. The Philosophy of the simple home explores Mark and Sally Bailey’s design ethos. Their colour scheme is inspired by nature to create a feeling of tranquillity. Materials are reclaimed or reused, and ethically sourced. Calm reigns in the simple home – a haven from the stresses of life. Above all, Bailey urge you to surround yourself solely with the objects that you really love and to enjoy the beautiful calm of an uncluttered home.
Pragmatic and philosophical, Simple Matters is a nod to the growing consensus that living simply and purposefully is more sustainable not only for the environment, but for our own happiness and well-being, too. Erin embraces the notion that “living small” is beneficial and accessible to us all, whether we’re renting a tiny apartment or purchasing a three story house. Filled with personal essays, projects, and helpful advice on how to be inventive and resourceful in a tight space, Simple Matters shows that living simply is about making do with less and ending up with more: more free time, more time with loved ones, more savings, and more things of beauty.
Hello Glow Natural Beauty Recipes for a Fresh New You by Stephanie Gerber
Forget paying big bucks at a spa, or slathering on overpriced “mystery cream” that contains who knows what. Make your own fresh, organic, and effective spa, skincare, hair maintenance, and cosmetics recipes at home with these beautiful, tried and tested tutorials, brought to you by the popular DIY beauty and wellness website helloglow.co. Stephanie Gerber, founder and editor of Hello Glow, believes the journey to well being can and should be simple and beautiful, natural and stylish. Which is why her site is the trusted destination for organic wellness, nutrition, and skincare ideas. From masks of all flavours and for all skin types, to soothing bath oils and invigorating scrubs, and from treats for your tresses to beauty boosting DIY cosmetics, Hello Glow has you covered.
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As we are packing more and more into each day, the act of eating is simply another task that is completed while we are online or engaged in another activity. As a result, we’re not fully aware of what food is being consumed.
The practice of mindful eating is about focusing and minimising distractions so you are paying full attention to the foods you are eating: by taking this more slowly you can really savour the food and pay attention to how much of it you are consuming. Reports indicate that many consumers base their food choices on taste first, followed by the price and finally the health benefits of the food. There are many resources that can support the practice of mindful eating, including cookbooks and guides that help us slow down and engage with our food. Here are some of our recommended reads for this genre:
Every bite affects the world by Catherine Verrall
Every Bite Affects the World is a guide that helps connect our bodies to the external world around us.
Verrall’s book helps us to be mindful of the connections between what we eat and the health of our bodies, as well as the health of the soil, water, climate, communities and farmers both here and far away.
Featuring many vegetarian recipes, ‘Every Bite’ also contains the imperative for meat eaters to obtain their food locally and from humanely raised sources.
Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays
Ever feel that you really taste the first few bites of a meal and then, seemingly on auto pilot, find that your meal has been eaten and you have not even tasted the rest? This book is for you.
Drawing on recent research and integrating her experiences as a physician and meditation teacher, Dr. Jan Bays offers a clear presentation of what mindfulness is and how it can help with food issues. Particularly interesting are the 7 different types of hunger and how they impact your food choices: eyes, nose, mouth, stomach, mind, heart, and cell hunger.
Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
This book is based around common sense thinking with respect to our eating but backs it up with research, which makes it a comprehensive read.
Every day, we each make around 200 decisions about eating. But studies have shown that 90% of these decisions are made without any conscious choice. Why? Wansink explains the hidden ‘persuaders’ that are used by restaurants and supermarkets to encourage you to eat more. Even music choice and the colour of a room can influence how much and how quickly you eat. ‘Mindless Eating’ will change the way you think about your next meal.
The Alkaline Cure: The remarkable 14-day diet and anti-ageing plan by Dr Stephan Domenig
Want to lose weight, improve your health and look younger, all in 14 days? Who doesn’t??
Our bodies function best with a pH balance of between 7.3 and 7.5. According to Dr Domenig, our modern lifestyles upset this balance by making our bodies too acidic. His book aims to rectify the balance.
‘The Alkaline Cure’ is a clinically tested fourteen-day plan designed to help establish acid-alkaline balance in the body. It includes daily menus and more than 40 recipes to give your body a kick start.
A former steak-lover himself, Chef Tal struggled for years on a vegan diet that left him filled with cravings for meat and dairy. Frustrated by the limited options available and unwilling to sacrifice the delicious flavours he associated with eating meat, he created vegan meals that could hold their own at the centre of the plate. Chef Tal found that by applying traditional French culinary techniques to meatless cuisine, he was able to create delicious meals full of rich flavour.
The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon
‘Oh She Glows’ was written after Liddon struggled for over a decade with an eating disorder and ate predominantly low-calorie processed foods. Seeing the benefits of changing her diet to whole foods, she spent time perfecting cooking and eating the right foods in the right way.
‘Oh She Glows’ contains over 100 vegan recipes that are easy to perfect. Whether you are a vegan or you simply want to incorporate a few vegan meals into your week, Angela’s recipes are a must-have for anyone who longs to eat well, feel great, and simply glow!
The act of reading a book is a time-honoured way to connect us to the simpler things in life. It helps us make sense of the world in which we live. The age-old habit of sitting down in a quiet place, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee, and opening the pages of a book is in itself conducive to relaxing, learning and, as a result, relieving stress.
But what about going one step further? How about reading books that inspire you to engage in mindfulness and the slow life? Books, ebooks and audio books teach, inspire and help us to find our way to a simpler, more fulfilling life.
One of the surest ways to relieve stress is to opt for a simpler, happier lifestyle; one closer to that led by our previous generations. All of these books help teach us to slow down, to practice stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, minimalism and mindfulness. In other words, to take time out to smell the roses!
Here are a few titles to help you learn and practice methods of reducing stress in your life and reconnect with the simpler things in life.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama is possibly one of the most respected spiritual leaders on our planet. His gentle lifestyle guidance and teachings are directed, not just at practitioners of Buddhism, but the whole world. In The Art of Happiness, His Holiness — in collaboration with psychiatrist Howard Cutler — teaches us there is a path towards happiness. The key is being able to recognise what in our lives causes us to be happy and then, by cultivating the right mental practice, we can achieve a balanced, contented state of mind.
Through stories and meditations, he shows us how to beat daily insecurities, anxieties and stress, leading us gently towards what he describes as “the purpose of life”, that of true happiness.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s classic guide to mindfulness is still considered one of the classics in its field, over thirty years after its original publication. Originally written as a letter to a fellow brother suffering under atrocities during the Vietnam War, Buddhist monk Thich uses stories and allegories to urge his brothers to continue on the mindfulness path.
The book has served as an instruction manual for the now widespread practice of meditation and has become recognised as a powerful guide to (in His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s words) “show us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth”.
The Miracle of Mindfulness is full of thought exercises, allegories and wonderful examples of how to practice mindfulness in everyday living in commonplace acts such as washing up and drinking tea.
Clea Danaan’s book Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens is a quirky, entertaining and informative book about how raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment can help get you back to the simpler things in life and reduce stress.
Written to make you smile as much as inform, the author nevertheless points to a few truths about chickens. Namely how their personalities, habits and idiosyncratic ways slow us down to their rhythms. Chapter titles such as “The Sound of One Wing Flapping” and “The Mind of the Chicken is Ungraspable” underline the way their “chickeny” characteristics can make us relax and laugh. Anecdotal evidence is (thankfully) abundantly documented by the author who also shows us the practical, healthy side of raising chickens in your own backyard.
Original and full of wit, yet containing a central truth about how keeping chickens can help ground us in a healthier, less stressful, more mindful lifestyle; Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens inspires and teaches as well as entertains.
Interested in learning more about simplicity and the power of meditation to change lives? Mindfulness in Action takes you to the very core of simplicity and awareness through meditation exercises and teachings. The author uses wisdom and insight to teach us to simply sit still and reconnect with the very concept of being human in our ever faster-paced world.
The book is edited by Carolyn Gimian, a longtime student and expert chronicler of Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings. This remarkable book offers something for everyone, whether a novice or experienced meditator.
The art of minimalism revolves around doing more with less. In this fascinating account, author Francine Jay points to the benefits of decluttering your home or workspace, in a way that brings us back to simpler, more satisfying living.
Not only does the author give tips on how to save money by ridding your space of excess material, she also demonstrates how living with less can be a path to greater happiness and simplicity.
Reading is the ultimate activity in enjoying “quiet moments” that centre our days and help to reduce the stress in our lives. In doing so you are joining the generations of people before you, from mystics, to learned scientists, to poets and professors, to just lovers of a good book, all who have used the written word to learn, relax and relieve stress.
Join them and find out how books can change you to appreciate a slower, more relaxed and fulfilling life.