Category Archives: Simple Life

How to Make Time for Work and Play

Relationships with others, both at work and in your personal life, are an integral part of whether life will seem manageable and enjoyable. Nurturing and fostering interpersonal relationships take time and energy. People who do not achieve a sense of balance may feel fragmented or overwhelmed.

Work and relationships will suffer if you are not managing to meet your needs and responsibilities, in addition to considering the needs of others at your workplace and in your personal life. Of course you cannot do everything! Ask yourself, “Am I doing things that are the most important to me? Am I spending time with those I love? Am I making time for both work and play?”

Having balance in your life will be easier if you:

  • Know your values
  • Identify priorities
  • Reduce unnecessary things
  • Set some goals and make a plan
  • Revisit priorities and goals occasionally

A value is important to the person who holds it. What changes with time and growth is the ranking of values in relation to other values. Values are expressed:

  • Through talk and action; how we use our time and energy
  • Through actions at work and play (leisure)
  • Through choices in the market place

Priorities are activities and relationships that receive first attention because you have ranked them as highly important. When setting priorities, ask yourself:

  • Is this important? To whom? Is this urgent? To whom? Is this necessary at all?

Unnecessary things in your life include some stressors, unresolved conflicts, bad habits, poor planning skills, and unrealistic expectations. For example, do you have unnecessary conflict with a co-worker or have unrealistic expectations by striving for perfection?

Finding balance with your work and personal life, including play, can be accomplished.

  • Select goals and dreams that support values.
  • Do things that will bring you closer to your goals.
  • Take action to do things out of your comfort zone. Be willing to take some risks.
  • Respond to challenges and disappointments positively. “What can I learn from this?”
  • Share your needs with others and seek their support. Be willing to ask for help.

Getting a handle on the stress in your life will help you make time for work and play and feel good about your general well-being.

  • Locate the sources of stress.
  • Physically work off the effects of stress.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Talk with someone you trust about your concerns or problems.
  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Organize what you can, without being a perfectionist and unduly hard on others.
  • Realize that you do not control the emotions or behaviour of others; you influence others.
  • Avoid self-medication and the misuse of alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time for recreation and for having fun.
  • Do something for others.
  • Take one thing at a time.
  • Compromise. You don’t always have to have it done your way. Agree to disagree.
  • Get away from it for a while (this can be done on a tight budget with limited time).

Ask yourself these questions.

  • What things cause me stress (my stressors)? How might I reduce my stress load?
  • What are the most personal things (work, activities, relationships) to me?
  • Is my personal life in balance? Do I feel good about my personal life?
  • Is my work life in balance? Do I feel good about my work life?
  • Am I spending time doing things (work, activities, relationships) most important to me?

Gratitude Journals and Why They Work

Christine Kane shares some thoughts on a powerful tool, the gratitude journal. Most of us who live in the West live with abundance, yet we get bogged down complaining about the things we think we need/want/wish. A gratitude journal can shift that focus in a big hurry. Consider all you can be thankful for.

A gratitude journal is a blank notebook where you write lists of things for which you are grateful. Every night, before you go to bed, you take about three minutes to write down a list of five things. (Or any do-able number.) Some days, you might be feeling particularly abundant, and those five things just fly onto the page. Some days, it might feel like you can’t think of even two things. That’s when you remember how amazing it is that you even have a roof over your head or food to eat. That’s when you remember your cat (again) and the fact that you have hot water for a bath. No matter what you’re feeling, you find time to write down these five things every single night without fail. And they don’t always have to be new and different

Gratitude Journals and Why They Work – Christine Kane

How Live a Contented Life

William Henry Channing was an American clergyman, writer and philosopher who served as the Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives in 1863 and 64.

The best known of his writings is a simple inspirational piece called the Symphony of Contentment.

To live content with small means.

To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion.

To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich.

To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly.

To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart.

To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.

In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden, and unconscious grow up through the common.

This is to be my symphony.

6 Lessons to Learn About Homelessness

Winter will soon by winding-down and warmer weather is coming. However, the issue of homelessness does not go away when the weather improves.

However, when the temperature drops below -20 C (-4 F) and stays that way for days or even weeks on end, it’s difficult to imagine homeless people surviving on the street.

In Canada, The Salvation Army operates 50 shelter and hostel programs throughout the country, providing over one-third of all shelter beds in the country each night for those without an alternative place to sleep. At that, it only scratches the surface of solving the problem.

Here are 6 things you need to know about homelessness:

1. Homelessness becomes a life-or-death issue in Winter

  • Humans cannot survive outdoors overnight in temperatures below -15 degrees.
  • Temporary shelters sometimes find it necessary to turn people away.

2. Homelessness is a growing problem in Canada

  • In Toronto, the City’s first official homeless census counted over 5,000 homeless in the city in 2006.
  • In Calgary, 3,436 homeless individuals were counted in 2006, nearly twice the 1,737 from 2002, and dramatically higher than the 447 people identified in the first such study in 1992.
  • In Vancouver, a 2005 study showed that the homeless population had nearly doubled since 2002, to over 2,100 people.
  • In Edmonton, a 2004 study found that 2,192 homeless were living in the city, up from 836 when the first survey was conducted in 1999.

3. More and more families across Canada are without a permanent place to live

  • While traditionally the realm of single men, increasingly women and families are joining the ranks of Canada’s homeless.
  • In Calgary, The Salvation Army has seen the problem of homeless families explode – from 17 homeless families two years ago to over 100 families receiving assistance today.
  • In Edmonton, the number of homeless families has more than doubled since 1999, according to a study by the Joint Planning Committee on Housing.

4. A key cause of homelessness is the shrinking market of affordable housing

  • Prosperity has indirectly caused housing prices to soar, leaving many working individuals and families unable to afford adequate housing.
  • According to a 2002 report by the Calgary Homeless Foundation, half of that city’s homeless population have jobs but cannot afford housing.
  • The Pivot Legal Society reported recently that the lack of affordable housing would lead to a tripling of the homelessness population in Vancouver by 2010.

5. Most homeless people are dealing with more than one life issue and do not “choose” be homeless

  • While the lack of affordable housing is a critical component of the problem, most homeless are dealing with a combination of factors that may include, job stability, domestic issues, physical or mental illness, substance abuse or other problems.
  • As a result, a comprehensive, comprehensive approach to treatment is the only way to provide a long-term solution for those experiencing homelessness.
  • A common misconception is that most people “choose” to be homeless. This is not the case.
  • Services such as The Salvation Army’s Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness program at the Belkin House in Vancouver are working to end the “revolving door” of homelessness.

6. Private charitable support is critical to sufficiently combat the problem

  • The federal government provides significant financial support to address homelessness, particularly by funding emergency shelter service programs.
  • However, to adequately fund comprehensive programs that work to combat homelessness at its source, private charitable support is needed.

The statistics above are merely a snapshot and even they do not reflect the scope of the homelessness problem in Canada. While exact national numbers are difficult to come by, even conservative estimates indicate that the homeless population in Canada numbers around 235,000 people.

The Four Laws of Simplicity

In a world that seems to increase in complexity almost daily, getting back to simplicity can be challenging. Writer Leo Babauta’s website Zen Habits focuses on simplicity and mindfulness in the daily hustle of life.

Some years ago, Leo posted a great article outlining a “a simple method of simplifying.”

Leo starts his article with the quote from Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” He then makes the point that most systems for simplifying tend be be complicated. His method to overcome this: The Four Laws of Simplicity, and How to Apply Them to Life.

His four laws of simplicity:

  1. Collect everything in one place.
  2. Choose the essential.
  3. Eliminate the rest.
  4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly and nicely.

You can’t get much simpler than that.

There’s been a lot of verbiage written on organizing and simplifyingnot the least of which, is here on Ian’s Messy Desk. If you tend to get bogged down in complex systems, click the link above and see what Leo has to offer.

8 Steps Toward a More Satisfying Life

Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, has conducted considerable research around personal satisfaction. The following eight points summarize her findings.

There’s a lot of common sense wrapped up in these steps. Unfortunately, our calendars and to-do lists often get in the way of common sense. If you find you “can’t get no satisfaction”, try any or all of the following.

1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down three to five things for which you are currently thankful—from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.

2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly Neighbour). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects—it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness—all happiness boosters.

3. Savour life’s joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.

4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation—in detail and, if possible, in person.

5. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.

6. Invest time and energy in friends and family. Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have surprisingly small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor is strong personal relationships.

7. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling, and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.

8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardships. There is no avoiding tough times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you must believe them.