And I’m not talkin about going to the gym together tho that also works for the good of the relationship. I’m talking about Martin Seligman’s suggestion he made in his TED talk about positive psychology. Simply put: find out which are your and your parner’s signature strengths and plan a date including possibilities for using those strengths. At its best you will experience flow together and at its worst you’ll be doing something else than seeing a movie for once.

You may take a brief strengths test (among other tests) at Authentic Happiness to find out whether to join some volunteer working or rather try to learn something new. I haven’t yet thought how I am going to implement my strengths in the form of a date but it sure is going to be something creative.

Wishing all inspiring summer,

Meri

Zen Habits wrote about writing shorter emails and not letting email rule your world. An excellent advice. Combining some of Zen Habits’ recommendations and my own preferences I suggest the following due to (the more simple) work related emails:

  • try keeping the Inbox empty (“inbox zero“)
  • reply with the bare minimum to get the message trough – Zen Habits suggests no more than five sentences
  • read your email before sending it and edit if needed
  • aim for short and clear
  • still, don’t forget your manners: be polite and constructive
  • mind the grammar

…and don’t be afraid writing a longer email when necessary.

Antti might have some additional ideas? ;-)

Take care,

Meri

Meditation was a mission impossible for me for a long time. I’m a restless person who never stops. I’m constantly thinking or moving and coming up with ideas so you can quite imagine how hard already the idea of meditating seemed to me. Since I’m still positive that meditation is hugely beneficial I haven’t given up on trying. Thanks for my friends for support, you know who you are!

A hippie from a young age.

Finally I’ve made some progress. Here are the things that have helped me to develop something I proudly call my Meditation Routine. My routines involves a 10 to 20 minute meditation on most days. Not every day.

  • set a timer – you don’t have to worry whether you’re going to overdo it and be late for gymnastics
  • set a timer – you don’t have to worry whether you’re going to give up too easily
  • start by 10 minutes –> gradually progress into 20 minutes (I’ve done 20 minutes once – today – hooray!)
  • sit still and comfortable, eyes open but not really looking at anything but one point
  • you might want to try to focus on an image of an empty room or your breathe blowing in and out in a “tunnel”
  • …or count your breaths (this didn’t work for me until today when it was incredible soothing)
  • …or say a mantra (like shanti or hamsa) as many times as it takes before you feel the calmness setting and then shut up
  • …or say a mantra silently in your mind (I used the word “tyhjää” on the first rounds)
  • try using a mindfulness bell – the sonorous sound helps to focus when it clangs once a minute or so (available as an iPhone app)

I use the timer in my iPhone as my meditation timer. The sound “harp” is elegant enough to bring me gently back into present.

Oh, and a idea I’ve been thinking of trying but haven’t yet tried:

  • before starting the meditation, write down all the ideas and things you can possibly come up with that need your attention later on – this way they’ll be safe and sound and you don’t have to worry about them while meditating

So, I challenge you: go forth and meditate!

Meri

All the glitter you need.

All the glitter you need to be happy.

I just realized something when I arrived home today. One of the major sales groups had once again sent their thick customer magazine accompanied with some advertisement material. I tore the plastic cover and was about to scan trough the mag but then I decided otherwise. I put the papers straight into the bin to be recycled.

It occurred to me, that after we got rid of the telly over a year ago we get exposed to so much less advertising that it has an noticeable impact on our consumption. The urge to buy stuff doesn’t hit when there’s  “nothing to buy“.

The same applies to magazines. We rarely spend any money on magazines and hence get less impulses to “need” stuff. There are no glossy pics in sight luring us to consume.

Reading the daily news/newspaper in the web also reduces the exposure to adds. Using an on demand service to watch tv does the same. Not wandering around the city center adds to the equation.

What this comes down to? Not knowing what to wish for my birthday. World peace?

Meri

Since our financial situation could be better, we’ve decided to start a diet. A money diet. Hence all the unnecessary costs will have to go and the mandatory have to get lesser. Some ways of cutting our monthly costs:

  • eating cabbage, root veggies and frozen vegetables on the weekdays and saving the tomatoes and more expensive greens for the weekends
  • eating out only two times a month (excluding Antti’s lunches)
  • following the 30 day rule
  • eating reasonable amounts of meat
  • using public transportation more
  • considering iHerb shopping and other eShopping more carefully
  • selling useless books into an antique store instead of donating away
  • …not even thinking about traveling.

My mother has a saying “tikkuja säästää, konjakkia ostaa” (roughly translates into sparing matches allows you to afford cognac). We’ll live by that as our guideline.

All additional ideas on how to save money are welcome in the comments.

Yep, it’s November and you really need to relax.

1) Book a vacation – a week in the sun always helps.

2) Get a massage.

3) Paint something – whether it’s your wall or a glass work, it’s something concrete.

4) Sing! It’s time to tune in on the Christmas channels.

5) Take a day off from work and spend it as a tourist in your home town. Go to a natural history museum or daytime movies.

6) Explore something new: it might be jewel therapy or biochemistry, be open-minded.

7) Celebrate! Bake a cake and light some candles. Make it a carpet picnic and have a glass of bubbly.

8) Do something you did as a child: get wet outside, build a “cottage” inside, lick the topping off from colourful cookies, prepare some “chocolate” out of cocoa powder and a dash of milk. Rent cartoon dvds and spend a day in pajamas.

9) Surprise your friends and family by writing poems about them.

10) Pick a happening and see whoever accepts your Facebook status invitation first.

Besides our “30 day rule” (check out How to combat the urge to buy stuff) we also have another rule to keep things in da house simple. For every new item purchased we have to get rid of two things. This naturally doesn’t apply in groceries. The things don’t have to be from the same category so for example yesterday I got some new clothes and now I’m passing some books and baking moulds on.

It’s a brilliant way to keep things to a minimum and it also encourages to think twice before shopping anything. And may I say I’m in trouble after getting seven (!!) new pieces of garment! I’ve only figured out eight items to get rid of so next I’ll be checking the attic… Which brings me to another issue but more about that next time.

Ta-ta!

Meri

One of my bad habits is texting / fondling my phone while driving. As of now I promise to stop it completely. It would be pretty stupid to end my (and possibly others) journey here because of some stupid SMS or Twitter update.

Avoid stupid mistakes

Antti

Playmate!

Nelli meets Toto the cat

How to avoid unnecessary quarrels when living together:

  • solve the everyday issues that cause tension (hire a cleaning lady, agree on chores, get groceries home delivered – whatever it is that’s bugging you)
  • make life at home easy – simplifying goes a long way reducing domestic stress and therefore cuts down arguments (unless you’re a total hippie)
  • write down the more serious matters and discuss them when neither of you is agitated
  • try listening to what bugs the other person and make an effort to change if it isn’t anything “constitutional”
  • when an argument breaks, try cutting it short by making the other one laugh – and DO laugh if the other one shows you a photo of his childhood Transformer mug. It’s not about courtesy: biofeedback ensures that when you smile, you’ll also feel better.
  • …and naturally, keep working on your issues – I found for example the book Loving What Is by Katie Byron useful

All advice is welcome! Please share yours.

Wishing you a quarrel-free weekend,

Meri

Photo by striatic

We live in belief that we need bunch of stuff (a great post about this), but we really don’t. In fact more stuff will just make us unhappier.

How to know what we actually need? It’s kind of tricky to analyze your own feelings when a “need” hits you. So how to combat the temptations of new iPhone or new Stieg Larsson bestseller?

We try to follow 30 day rule in getting new stuff. Basically if you “need” something you write it on paper and wait for 30 days. After that you can go ahead and purchase it. That is if you still “need” it.

30 days is long enough time to let you distance yourself from the object and really analyze if you could live without it.

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