Minimalist Miscellany: Decluttering, Saving Money and More

Mount Hood - minimalist miscellany

This week’s Minimalist Miscellany includes tips on decluttering, not acquiring stuff in the first place, diet, recycling and a Christian perspective on minimalism.

Looking for some quick decluttering projects? Choose one or more of these seven 5-minute decluttering projects to tackle today.

How being lazy can help you save money isn’t about skipping your morning latte, but relatively painless ways to get money into your savings account.

Some minimalists are vegans, either as part of the minimalist lifestyle or for other reasons. Either way, it’s important to understand that not all plant-based diets are healthful. In fact, your risk of coronary heart disease may even be higher if you eat an unhealthful plant-based diet than an unhealthful diet that includes animal foods.

6 ways to decline your parents’ old stuff without causing a family feud were compiled from interviews with experts in psychology, elder care, and organization.

Turns out we don’t have to get plastic peanut butter jars 100% clean to recycle them.  Just scrape out as much peanut butter as you can, add a little water (about 1/4 full) and a drop of dish detergent, then put on the top, shake vigorously and dump the contents.

Tired of staring into your closet, trying to decide what to wear? Courtney Carver offers some ideas to streamline your wardrobe decisions.

Aleteia, a Christian publication, discusses lessons we can learn about minimalism from Saint Francis.

Do you have any links you’d like to share with Minimalist Miscellany?

Relieving Anxiety Caused by All the Bad News in the News

Sedona - relieving anxiety

“We don’t even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome.”

– Isabel Allende

In just the last few months, the news has been full of hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, terrorist attacks, nuclear threats, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Science-fiction writer John Scalzi tweeted recently, “These aren’t the End Times, but it sure as hell feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now.”

Even those of us lucky enough to escape any personal impact from these tragedies are likely to feel scared and sad. Experts suggest numerous methods of relieving anxiety for adults as well as children.

Cut back on the news.

This doesn’t mean being completely uninformed, but stick to skimming the headlines or set a strict limit of time each day for viewing the news. Unless you follow only people who post recipes, puppy pictures and other innocuous items, you’ll need to cut back on social media, too.

Prepare for Disaster.

Prepare for natural disasters by making a disaster plan and preparing emergency kits. The Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security have a number of free resources. In addition, check out Preparing Your Home for a Disaster.

The Department of Homeland Security also offers resources for learning how to respond to an active shooter situation.

Take care of your health.

Eat healthfully, exercise, spend some time in quiet solitude, and try to get enough sleep. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. Meditate, pray, or work on your adult coloring book.

Talk to someone.

Reach out to friends, family and co-workers. See your doctor, therapist or religious leader for additional help.

Journal.

Start a journal to reflect on your feelings. If you’re not into writing, consider drawing or painting in your journal, or even making a video journal.

Help those affected by tragedy or otherwise in need of help.

Donate cash if you can. If you can’t, volunteer your time, if you live near enough to the tragedy. Look for ways to help out in your own community.

Look for the good in the world.

Keep an eye out for good when you’re reading about tragedies. Take a cue from Mr. Rogers’ mother, who told him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Also make an effort to look for good in your own life and your community. Consider beginning a formal gratitude practice.

Do you have any tips to share for relieving anxiety arising from all the bad news in the news?

Repurposing Leftovers to Save Time and Money and Help the Planet

bread boule - repurposing leftovers

“At the end of the week, my husband and I do a leftovers dinner, where we have to use whatever’s in the fridge. It’s sort of a game.”

-Lake Bell

The average American family spends $1,500 a year on wasted food. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got better ways to spend $1,500 than toss it in the trash. Some of this is thrown away because it gets slimy or smelly before it’s even been used, of course, but repurposing leftovers will reduce waste, especially for those who dislike eating leftovers as they are.

Try these tips for repurposing leftovers:

Foods

Un-sauced pasta: Frittata, stir fry.

Pasta with sauce: Top with cheese and bake.

Cheese: Fondue, mac and cheese.

Rice and other grains: Fried rice, rice pudding, casseroles, salads, soups.

Bread: French toast, sweet or savory bread pudding, croutons, French onion soup, stuffing.

Cooked vegetables: Frittata, soups, sandwiches, wraps, omelets.

Poultry, pork and beef: Tacos/burritos, salads, sandwiches, croquettes, omelets, soups, wraps.

Beans: Spreads/dips (puréed), bean patties/burgers, soups, wraps.

Tomato sauce/paste: Freeze in ice-cube trays for other recipes that need only a small amount.

Drained juice from canned tomatoes: Freeze to add to tomato-based soups.

Overripe fruit: Muffins, quick bread, pancakes, cobbler, smoothies, popsicles.

Beverages

Soft drinks: marinade, barbecue sauce.

Wine: marinade, pan sauce.

Beer: marinade, batter, bread.

Milk/buttermilk/cream: Sauces, soups. Or freeze in ice-cube trays or larger containers to use for cooking later.

What are your favorite tips for repurposing leftovers?

Minimalist Miscellany: Winning, Time, Black Minimalists and Happiness

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Today’s Minimalist Miscellany covers winning, time, black minimalists and happiness.

Winning and Luxury Products

“Winning a competition, which we know is associated with feeling a sense of a higher social status, seems to drive individuals towards conspicuous consumption, making them more willing to pay for luxury items,” according to Dr. Yin Wu, one of the researchers on a University of Cambridge study.

Study participants played a competitive version of Tetris. Then the researchers asked them how much they’d be willing to pay for luxury items, from 10% of their retail price up to 120%. Winners tended to be willing to pay more than losers. Winners were also more willing than losers to pay for a Harvard University T-shirt.

“Our study demonstrates that winning a competition leads people to prefer high-status products,” said Dr. Wu, “possibly through an increased feeling of entitlement or deservingness.”

Awareness of Time

“Maybe there’s such thing as being too aware of the exact hour and minute,” says David Cain. “If there is,” he continues, “we must be well past that point.” Cain suggests we try to become “less aware of the hour and minute,” and see how our experience of time changes.

He says that since he’s hidden and disabled clocks around him, his days flow better and he works more efficiently.

Black Minimalists

Minimalism is often criticized as being a movement by and for white men. For a different perspective, check out the recent interview of Chris and Anna, posted on Black Minimalists.

In response to, “What does being a black minimalist mean to you?” Anna says, “It means shaping a generation of people who see wealth in themselves. I want black people to see themselves and know that they are dope AF with or without the gimmicks….”

Chris responds: “Going against the norm or perception of what is expected of an African American….”

Happiness

Good sleep and good sex, not money, are the keys to happiness, according to a British survey. Of course, there’s likely more to the story. As this article notes, if you’re poor, you’re less likely to sleep well and have a satisfying sex life.

Do you have any links to share on Minimalist Miscellany?

Peace of Mind – Does Talking to Yourself in the Third Person Help?

blooming cactus - peace of mind

“To me, wealth is the peace of mind you have, your family, your friends, your colleagues. Everything else is just money, and it really is funny how people pay so much attention to that.”

– Ricardo Salinas Pliego

We all go through times of stress when we need to work hard to regain peace of mind. A new Michigan State University study, though, shows that talking to yourself in the third person when you’re stressed is a low-effort way to help you control your emotions.

“Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions,” says Jason Moser, one of the lead authors of the study.

The full article explains:

We all have an internal monologue that we engage in from time to time; an inner voice that guides our moment-to-moment reflections. Although people frequently engage in such “self-talk”, recent findings indicate that the language they use to refer to the self when they engage in this process influences self-control. Specifically, using one’s own name to refer to the self during introspection, rather than the first-person pronoun “I”, increases peoples’ ability to control their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under stress.

But just how easy is it for people to control their emotions via third-person self-talk ? Emotion regulation, as with many forms of self-control, is typically thought of as an effortful process that depends heavily on cognitive control mechanisms to muffle emotional responses. Might third-person self-talk constitute a relatively effortless form of emotional control that does not require additional cognitive control processes above and beyond those recruited when people typically reflect on negative experiences? Here we suggest that it does. [footnotes omitted]

Moser gives the example that when he’s preparing to give a talk, he might say, “Jason is really scared he’s going to botch the presentation and they’ll all think he’s stupid.”

I don’t think I’ve ever talked to myself in the third person, but looks like I should start.

What about you? How do you talk to yourself?