Ignore Your But(t)

This time of year makes it incredibly easy to be negative.

Think about it, we’re totally in limbo. Past the good parts of Winter – namely Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/awesome time with food, family & friends – and waiting for the beginnings of Spring. We stay inside most of the time, it’s difficult to find motivation to go to class, let alone to see friends. We’re marooned on a snowy island, waiting for a rescue boat! No, this isn’t exactly the time of year we tend to be optimistic and cheery.

Which is why it’s the perfect time for this message I’ve been ruminating on for a couple weeks. (Keep in mind, these ‘advice’ articles are just as much [if not more] written to remind myself of things as they are to ‘advise’ you). And the message is:

Focus on the wells, forget about the buts.

I will give you a few examples:

  • Well, I love most of my body, but my butt is too big”
  • Well, it’s bright and sunny outside, but it’s -20 degrees”
  • Well, my boots keep the slush out, but they’re kind of ugly”
  • Well, I love my boyfriend, but he works too hard”

I’m not saying that ignoring the buts is easy, because it’s not. The buts are the things that stubbornly invade our “otherwise happy” days. They shout out for our attention, distract us from the positive, and seem to constantly take up more of our thoughts than the wells. But I would venture to say that happiness is in the wells. Think of it this way: most of the time, the buts are things we can’t control. They’re constant. You can’t change them. So what’s the point of fixating on them? They’re not going away. You can’t alter the weather, no matter how much you try, and your body will always have the same basic shape, no matter how much you work out. So why waste so much time and energy focusing on the buts and ignoring the wells?

Another way of putting it: practice gratitude. It may sound all hippie and new-agey, but I honestly think one of the very best ways to find happiness is to learn to be grateful for what you have right now. Sure, you may strive to achieve a better life for yourself, more cash money, more clothes, etc, and that’s all well and fine – it’s great to have goals. But the real happiness comes with acknowledging every day how great your life already is. Focusing on the sweet spots of your day, reminding yourself to be positive, diverting your attention from buts to wells.

For a ton of perspective, please read this amazing article from Danielle Laporte on why you’re privileged. Two of my favourite quotes from it:

Really, what’s the worst of your problems?

We have so many rights, must we exercise the right to complain?

As much as possible, we should try to pull ourselves out from under the rubble of negative thoughts that crowd our minds. The way I see it, if the negative things are there to stay, and so are the positive ones, I’d much rather expend my energy stubbornly reminding myself to stay positive, stay grateful, stay happy. And no, I’m not being happy-go-lucky about this, it’s not always going to work, and there’s no such thing as being happy all the time. You can’t have light without dark after all! But in those everyday situations where we have a choice between acting/thinking/speaking negatively or positively, I think we should always try to choose positive.

  • “Well, I love most of my body!”
  • “Well, it’s bright and sunny today!”
  • “Well, my boots keep the slush out!”
  • “Well, I love my boyfriend!”

Some of you are sitting there thinking: “Wow, how naive! She is being so unrealistic. The world is a tough place, after all.” I know it is. We all do. But I don’t think that being realistic (read: pessimistic) about the state of the world is going to help us achieve any happiness. I’m well aware of the dangers, horrors, and terrors of our world. Yet I’m also aware of the wonders, loves, and beauty of it. And when given the choice of what to focus on, I think it will bring me a great deal more happiness to stay positive.

I’d love to know what you think! How often do you find yourself “but-ing” the heck out of your day, getting pulled into a spiral of negative thinking? Or do you try and make a conscious effort to be grateful every day? Any tips or tricks for us newbs about how to stay positive?

xoxo,

Eat Your Fruits & Veggies!

Ooh they're so pretty and gorgeous and awesome!

Alright people, listen up. I am about to say something very important:

EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES.

I am so serious.

This is so important.

Please do this for yourself.

Fruits and veggies are *magical* foods. They will rock you to your core. They are the secret to longevity and happiness. I’m not making this up! Eat them!!

The Theory

Okay, let’s get all sciencey on you. Read up on the Free-radical Theory of aging. It basically says that when certain particles in your body have too few electrons in them, they go wild! They are reactive and try to grab at more electrons, causing damage to your cells. These particles are called free-radicals, and they are VERY BAD, basically. That’s why you need antioxidants! They freely give some electrons to these free-radical particles so that the free-radicals are satisfied and stop ravaging your body. That’s why anti-oxidants slow the aging process, because they cause less damage to be done! Yay antioxidants!

The Gist of It..

The amount of key antioxidants that many species maintain in their body is directly proportional to their lifespan
-Richard Cutler, M.D., former director of Aging Research for the National Institutes of Health
Antioxidants are so amazing. Higher levels = less damage to your body = less chance for disease. Great equation.
Higher levels protect against
  • macular degeneration
  • cancers
  • diabetes
  • heart conditions

Hmm, does this sound intimidating?

Your Part.

Here’s what you should do to protect, help and strengthen yourself!

  1. Eat your fruits and veggies! Nine servings total daily is what Health Canada recommends, AIM HIGHER! They provide tons of natural antioxidants to soothe those sad little free-radicals. Fruits and veggies are the #1 best way to get your antioxidants + they’re so yummy and so awesome so EAT THEM!
  2. Look out for challenges! Some challenges to antioxidant absorption are stress, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics. Look out for these and try your best (if possible) to avoid them, or supplement with extra fruits and veggies.
  3. Get your antioxidant level measured! I got mine done at my optometrist, who was checking in order to prevent macular degeneration down the line. Ask your doctor about getting your levels tested, and talk to him about choices going forward (supplements like omega-3 oils and antioxidant pills could be recommended by your doctor)

My 'Very Good' antioxidant score - 42 thousand!

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Okay, I now sound like an advertisement for the fruits and veggies society of Canada or something like that (does that even exist?) but I feel very strongly about this subject! I can’t help myself. I want all of you to be healthy + happy!

Yaddy yaddy yaddy.

Plant-centered diet is the way to go, people! Just ask Kris Carr..

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Alright, that’s enough Public Service Announcements for one day. Yeesh!

I’m going to go eat an apple now. Or some carrot sticks. Or some spinach salad. Or some tomatoes. Or some onions and peppers and pineapple and peaches! YUM.

xoxo, S.

Make Your Life Cozy

Just add tea and a book..

One of my favourite comments recently was from the Stir-Fried Dinosaur, who said that my blog was cozy. Isn’t that just the nicest? Thank you! This made me particularly happy because I try very hard to keep my life as cozy as possible. Today I’m going to share with you how I achieve coziness, and how you can too!

My Definition of Cozy:

1. Making your life work for you, so that your personal spaces always feel like home

2. Knowing what you love, and doing it

3. Feeling luxurious in your own way

How To Cozi-fy Your Life

Hot Chocolate and Magazines

1. Making your life work for you.

This means making the most of what you have. You may not have an unlimited budget, or you may not have unlimited space, or you may not have unlimited time to make your spaces perfect. What’s important is that you prioritize. What means the most to you? What will make you feel the most at home when you get home? Is it a big library? A doggie? Big windows and an easy chair? Photos of family and friends? Lots of delicious food? Zero in on what is most important, and make your lifestyle work around that. Budget your time, energy and money carefully in order to get the most out of your life, and the spaces you spend it in.

Marjorie Hillis’s book, Live Alone and Like It, was a bible written for the modern 1930’s woman, but still manages to be remarkably current. It’s one of my favourite books, and I always read it whenever I want to amp up the luxury/cozy in my life. She speaks about the importance of having a home that you really feel at home in, and how just because nobody will necessarily see your home, doesn’t mean you don’t need to make it fabulous! The time you spend nestled up in your rooms should give you lots of happiness – nobody will be happy and inspired if they don’t bother to make an effort in their living spaces!

2. Knowing what you love.

For many people, this is very intuitive. When we walk into a store, we can immediately say exactly what we love and what we hate. But I’m not talking so much about material possessions so much as routines and habits. Chances are there are many little things that make you very happy, but maybe you’re not doing them every day. And why not? What should stop you from incorporating as much happiness and coziness into your daily routines? Maybe for you your favourite thing is:

  • a quiet half hour reading with some tea
  • a long walk outdoors
  • a bubble bath
  • painting
  • people-watching in a café
  • spending rainy days in a record store
  • dancing.
  • skipping stones
  • driving aimlessly
  • spending Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market
  • exploring bookshops
  • drinking your orange juice out of a huge glass
  • making music
  • wrestling with your dog
  • napping
  • swimming
  • taking extra-long showers
  • mood lighting
  • listening to music without lyrics
  • etc.

The point is to make your life cozy you need to make time for the things that you love. I know,  you’re busy, burnt out and have no time for such frivolous things, right?. To that I say two things:

  1. You will continue to be perpetually burnt out and unproductive if you never take any time to relax or make yourself happy.
  2. Frivolous things? This is your life! If you keep your nose to the grindstone day in and day out, you’re going to wake up in fifty years and realize you haven’t really lived or been happy.

So take the time. Don’t deny yourself time to do exactly what makes you happy. You probably already spend a few hours a day mindlessly watching television or surfing the internet, so you likely do have the time! And of course t.v and internet make people happy as well, but once in a while it’s refreshing to spend some quality time, creating memories and happiness. And coziness, of course!

3. Feeling luxurious in your own way.

In addition to ‘daily happiness upkeep’, you should also treat yourself every so often. And don’t worry if your idea of a special treat differs from someone else’s, you’re you and they’re them. Don’t ever let other people dictate how you should live your life or spend your money. They’re probably just jealous anyhow, that you have such a cozy life! Some extra-luxe ideas for ultimate coziness:

  • Get a milkshake
  • Spend extra for something you really love: a type of tea, notebook, bed sheets, perfume/cologne, a mug
  • Breakfast in bed
  • Keep your house stocked with cookies, homemade if possible
  • Spray eucalyptus/lavender spray on your pillows
  • Invest in a bed tray – it will change your life
  • Get fresh flowers weekly, if you like them

Conclusion

So there you have it! Three simple ways to squeeze every drop of coziness out of your life. I’m not advocating frivolity, neglect of your daily duties or blowing all your money on expensive things to make your space better for you. It’s all about moderation, simple luxuries and getting the most out of your life. Take the time to think about what parts of your day you love best, and see if you can find a way to amplify that positivity throughout your day. Surround yourself with things you find beautiful and cheerful, and I bet you’ll find yourself more cheerful too :).

What sorts of cozy things do you try to incorporate into your life? What do you spend extra money on? What are your personal luxuries? What makes you happy!?

xoxo, S.