|Red flowers & spicy cake // personal picture|
Here are a few small random things I wanted to share with you lately, none of which really deserving an entire post, but interesting to point out within my simplification journey. And hopefully, interesting to yours too.
The Meditation TrickFor years now, I have been trying to implement some sort of meditation habit in my life to increase my daily mindfulness. The habit still has to take root, mostly because I just can't stop thinking about all the things. I tried many guided meditation systems and other advice from yoga teachers, usually without success.
And then, I found something that works for me. I was having a massage in a spa, and I thought: I must be mindful, to enjoy this moment of calm and relaxation and connection to my body instead of thinking about appartment hunting and grocery lists. At first, it didn't work. After about 30 seconds of forcing myself to stay in the moment, my mind would wander again toward all these subjects that capture my attention these days.
Until I decided to describe my sensations to myself. As if I was writing the moment into a book chapter. Since I am a writer, I thought - worst case, it makes me practice my description skills. I started describing in my head, with words, the sensation of the warm hand on my legs, the faint scent of the massage oil, the calm background music filling the air. My muscles relaxing under the expert touch of the lady, my mind drifting into a peaceful bliss. And it worked! For the whole remainder of the massage, I started connecting with my sensations and feelings. I enjoyed the massage, and offered a break to my Parisian appartment searching tortured mind.
This particular trick works for me because I enjoy writing. Maybe there is another, similar trick which would work for you depending on your own sensibility? Turning sensations into images for example, imagining yourself physically taking each thought and throwing it in the bin... Only you can know, but the bottom line is: there isn't one method that works for all. If you've tried meditating and the guide's advice hasn't worked, maybe there is another way that will work for you.
The Appartment PhilosophyAs you may have guessed by now, I'm currently appartment hunting in Paris. Knowing that I'm very particular about the neighborhood, the place's facilities and practicality, as well as the aesthetics of both the place and the building, it's been difficult. I have been difficult. Besides, we are looking at exactly the type of appartment and the type of price every childless working couple in Paris is looking for. Much competition is going on here.
The point is, I visited a perfect appartment the other day. In my zone (understand, 500m from where I currently live), in a 1850 building with a lot of charm and an exquisite aesthetics, a third floor appartment with a lot of light, many embedded closets and shelves, an open kitchen, a bathtub (trust me, this is rare in Paris), and. Beams. On. The. Ceiling. I'm thinking, the perfect Instagrammer lair. Not that I plan to pollute my instagram feed with beautiful lifestyle pictures. There were five other couples, with a potentially equal or better profile than me. And I thought: if I don't get this appartment, my standard will be raised so high I will compare anything else to this, and never be satisfied.
That's when my boss told me "you know, when I was appartment hunting myself, I always told myself that if I didn't get one, it's because there is a better appartment waiting for me somewhere. And that always worked, I always found better in the end". Now, isn't that a great philosophy? Not only for appartments: whenever you don't get what you want, life doesn't turn out the way you hoped, what if there was a reason for that? It wasn't meant to be, because there is something better waiting for you further down the line. I like this optimistic mindset. And I've been much less stressed about this whole appartment business ever since.
The Power of FlowersThat one is so simple. I'm sure you already know about this. One day, when I was living in Japan, I passed in front of one of these in-train-station flower shops. And there was this beautiful, cheap bouquet of purple and white flowers. That day, I bought the flowers, along with a simple glass vase. This little addition brightened my small student room in a way I couldn't imagine.
Ever since, there is a spot for a vase in my home, and I buy fresh flowers every week to brighten my mini-palace. How powerful is that small detail? Also, a proof that simplicity doesn't mean getting rid of all the unessential and living in a spartan environment. I believe it is very much the contrary, actually: removing all the clutter helps me see the beauty of what I choose to let in my home, and my life.
On Positive PsychologyI'll probably put together a full post about this, when I have more time. I attended a conference by psychologist Florence Servan-Schreiber, who studies, and teaches, about positive psychology. This is different from positive thinking for example, as this is an actual science, digging into what in our brains and minds makes us happy and whole as human beings. More science, less spiritual schmuck, that's something I'm quite sold to.
There is nothing revolutionary to this, it's basically a combination of "glass half full" with gratitude, stop comparing ourselves all the time, nurturing our own strengths of character and keep a growth mindset. Of course it is much more than that. But I'll come back to this soon.
The Jeans AnecdoteAs a final bit of update, I wanted to share with you a little problem I had, and more specifically, how I reacted to it. I was putting on one of my favourite pairs of jeans, some Levi's denim bought in LA some years ago, and, as I was stretching to make them more comfortable, they cracked open at the widest of my left thigh.
I mean, shit happens. But I was quite surprised at my own reaction. In the past, I would have hated myself for being so fat, and I hate my thighs, and I still haven't lost the Christmas pounds, I would have blamed myself and gone on some unhealthy protein diet immediately.
This time, I just took off the jeans and put on another pair of pants. And planned a trip to the GAP (the best place for jeans I found so far, unless I have access to a Levi's outlet in LA). I still thought about my weight and overall health, as I'd like to avoid replacing my whole wardrobe, but in a much healthier way. Am I eating right? What's the status of my sports habit? Is there any bad habit that crept back in I should be mindful of? But no body hating, no shame. All these years of simplification and positive thinking and trying to change my view on my body seem to have worked eventually...
That's it for today. I don't have much time for blogging these days between the appartment hunt thing and some writing projects I'm focusing on in French right now, but I'll be writing such posts to keep this place active until I have time for more in-depth posts. I hope you enjoyed this!