Minimalist Miscellany: Purpose, Self-Compassion, Gratitude and More

Today’s Minimalist Miscellany is about purpose, self-compassion, gratitude, peace, meditation and coloring books.

“Doing good, it seems, is better than feeling good,” says Dhruv Khullar in Finding Purpose for a Good Life. But Also a Healthy One. Studies show that people with a greater sense of purpose are healthier. Researchers differentiate between “eudaimonic well-being,” which focuses on meaning and self-realization and defines well-being in terms of the degree to which a person is fully functioning, and “hedonic well-being,” which focuses on “happiness” and defines well-being in terms of pleasure attainment and pain avoidance.

Some experts believe self-compassion has all the advantages of self-confidence without the drawbacks. In Why Self-Compassion Beats Self-Confidence, Kristin Wong discusses the benefits of self-compassion, including stronger connections to others, resilience, a more objective viewpoint about ourselves, ease in improving ourselves and empathy. To become more self-compassionate, researchers say we should change the way we talk to ourselves, speaking in a more supportive voice.

Do gratitude lists “work”? Has gratitude been “corporatized”? In Does ‘Counting Your Blessings’ Work?, Sonya Huber explores the gratitude trend, concluding, “The gratitude list is not a miracle cure, but a set of training wheels” to help people think about how they need others and how they should help others.

Need help to reduce your stress level? Check out Joy Sussman’s advice in How I Started the New Year (and Every Morning Since) with More Peace.

Dan Harris offers advice on meditating in his new book, Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. For the short version, listen to (or read the transcript of) Rachel Martin’s interview of Harris on NPR. Harris believes even a minute a day is helpful, noting that what appears to be a failure in meditation is actually “a victory because the primary insight for beginning meditators is that it is a zoo inside of our skulls.”

Have you tried an adult coloring book yet? If not, you might want to consider it after reviewing the results of a recent study. Colouring books for adults benefit mental health says as little as 10 minutes a day can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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

Happier in 2018: Some of the Traits Happier People Share

snowy scene - happier

“I don’t have much positive to say about motor neuron disease, but it taught me not to pity myself because others were worse off, and to get on with what I still could do. I’m happier now than before I developed the condition.”

– Stephen Hawking

Researchers have discovered a number of traits that happier people tend to have in common.

1. They have close relationships.

2. They’re generous.

3. They prioritize time over money and possessions.

4. They’re honest.

5. They get plenty of high-quality sleep.

6. They’re grateful.

7. They spend more time outdoors.

8. They’re physically active.

9. They have an optimistic, but realistic, outlook.

10. They live in the moment.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the easiest traits to acquire. If becoming happier this year is one of your resolutions, choose one or two of these to work on and create a detailed plan for how you will instill new habits.

For example, if you choose to get more 30 more minutes of quality sleep each night, your plan might look something like this:

More Quality Sleep


  • Week 1: Go to bed 10 minutes earlier every night this week.
  • Week 2: Go to bed 10 minutes earlier than in Week 1.
  • Week 3: Go to bed 10 minutes earlier than in Week 2.


  • Install room-darkening curtains.
  • No TV, tablet, computer, etc. for one hour before bed.
  • No coffee after noon.
  • Meditate five minutes each night before bed.
  • Play a white-noise loop on your phone or purchase a white-noise machine.*
  • Update to-do list every evening after dinner.

This, of course, is only an example. Your plan should reflect your own particular situation.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for becoming happier?


* We have one similar to this, purchased several years ago and still going strong. We hesitated about buying it due to the expense, but it’s become one of our favorite purchases.

New Year’s Resolutions – Resources to Help Keep Common Resolutions

New Year's resolutions

“The problem with New Year’s resolutions … is that people try to adopt too many behavioral changes at once. It doesn’t work. I don’t care if you’re a world-class CEO – you’ll quit.”

– Tim Ferriss

Need ideas for your New Year’s resolutions this year? Check out Simple New Year’s Resolutions to Simplify Your Life and Minimalist Resolutions: Suggestions.

Of course, we all know making resolutions is a lot easier than keeping them. So, I’ve collected some resources to help you with some of the most common resolutions.

Eat more healthfully

39 Low Effort and Healthy Dinner Recipes

Simple Healthful Meals for the Whole Family

25 Easy Vegetarian Weeknight Dinners

Exercise more

Exercise on a Budget

Minimalist Exercise

Here’s How to Make Yourself Love Exercise


7 Tips to Help Keep Your Resolution to Declutter

How to Begin Major Decluttering Projects

100 things to toss from your home in the new year

Get organized

How to Organize a To Do List

Paper Chaos to Organized Files in Only 10 Minutes a Day

12 New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Get Organized

Save money

How to Save Money: 100 Great Tips to Get You Started

Minimalist Frugality: How Minimalism Can Save You Money

Mark Cuban: The 3 best tips to save more money in 2018

And just for fun

Tips For Getting Organized

Minimalist Miscellany: No-Shopping, Kindness, Resolutions and Giving

 merry christmas - minimalist miscellany


Today’s Minimalist Miscellany links to stories about no-shopping years, teaching kindness, New Year’s resolutions and charitable giving.

A Fun Way to Stop Buying Things You Don’t Really Need describes an artist who stopped shopping for a year. Sarah Lazarovic painted items she wanted instead of buying them and documented the lessons she learned.

Author Ann Patchett also took a year off from shopping. In My Year of No Shopping, she says, “The things we buy and buy and buy are like a thick coat of Vaseline smeared on glass: We can see some shapes out there, light and dark, but in our constant craving for what we may still want, we miss life’s details.”

Can Kindness Be Taught? discusses the Kindness Curriculum, developed by the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin (Madison). This mindfulness-based program for preschoolers is available free of charge. Kind Campaign and Random Acts of Kindness have free resources for helping older children practice kindness.

Thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions? You’ll want to read How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution and 5 things to do now for New Year’s resolution success.

If you’ve given up on resolutions, check out 5 Alternatives to a Traditional New Year’s Resolution. I really like “Establish weekly experiments that test out various habits or that challenge you to do new things.”

The Tech to Help Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions suggests apps to help you meet your goals.

Consumer Reports has prepared a list of some of the highest- and lowest-rated charities that you might want to read before donating. Also check out GiveWell’s list of top-rated charities. GiveWell uses an evidence-based method to find the charities that “offer the best bang for the buck in terms of lives saved or improved per dollar donated.”

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

Not that Busy – So Why Do I Feel Like I Am? My Brain Is Full.

fern with ice crystals - not that busy

“All day, I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t that busy. The way I did this was by silently repeating, ‘You’re not that busy.'”

-Hanna Rosin

Last week, I whined talked a lot about being busy. But then I started to think about it. I’m really not that busy. I feel pressured because the deadline is approaching for me to get a book manuscript* to the publisher, but I still:

  • Get enough sleep every night.
  • Exercise nearly every day.
  • Prepare healthful meals and eat them at the table.
  • Relax with my husband for a bit after work and again before bed.
  • Volunteer.
  • Get everything done that really needs to be done.
  • And have a few minutes every day to work on teaching my dog to sit, stand and lie down without moving her front feet just because I think it’s cool (scroll down for the video that inspired me).

So I started thinking about why I feel so busy. I think it’s just that my brain feels full. There are a number of things that I need to do that I’ve been holding in my head instead of writing down. Examples include filling the hummingbird feeders and trimming the dog’s nails.

Also, normally I only write a detailed to-do list (versus the events on my calendar) for the next day or two. Usually this works fine.

Right now, though, especially with all the little things to do for the holidays (yes, even a minimalist Christmas takes more time than a non-holiday season!), I think it will help me feel a lot less busy if I extend the to-do list to cover a full week.

Not only do I know from experience that these two tips help, but researchers have found that the Zeigarnik Effect (our brains keep nagging us about uncompleted actions) can be eased by making a plan to complete the action.

The human mind is remarkably persistent in its pursuits, often even disturbingly so. Intrusive thoughts remind people of their unfulfilled goals, including to the point of interfering with other tasks. . . . Once a detailed plan has been made, one no longer has to think about the goal to execute it.

What about you? Ever realize you’re not as busy as you feel?


*Volume 2 of Art Law Deskbook