Are you stuck on the treadmill?

Hi friends! When we liken something to “the treadmill” it usually means unending drudgery but did you know our minds strive to keep us on an even balanced path, this is known as the hedonic treadmill and that is what we are going to chat about today in this weeks Konmari vlog! *If you are new here “Konmari” refers to the boom The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and it was the book that helped me declutter my art room and my home by only keeping items that “Sparked Joy.” I highly recommend it:)

Today we are talking about hedonic adaptation, or the ability of your brains to seek out a balance after something good or bad happens to us. When I first completed the Konmari declutter in my craft room I felt fantastic! I had a cleaner more spacious room and I was on cloud 9! A month or so later I was feeling a sense of let down, I could not see that I had made a difference, I had gotten used to the “new normal” and I didn’t feel like I accomplished anything. I decided to do another round of Konmari…then I learned about the hedonic treadmill and it all made sense!

Here is the short video by TED explaining the Hedonic Treadmill.

Have you ever said things like:

  • “I’ll be so happy when I lose 25 pounds!”
  • “If only I could get that promotion my life would be perfect!”
  • “If I had a big house like her’s I’d surely be happy!”
  • “If my art was every published I’d be happy!”
  • “If I had “x” amount of dollars in the bank I would feel satisfied”

If you then hit one of those goals you might know what I mean. I thought if I ever got my work in a magazine then I would be satisfied, then it was when I get my own column I would be happy, then it was if I was hired to teach at a convention I’d be happy or hitting 100k YouTube subscribers. It turns out I am just as happy now as I was before. Now this might sound incredibly ungrateful and I do not mean it that way at all BUT I have found achieving a goal to be kind of a let down. I think that the work is the reward and pursuing and progress feels better than hitting an end goal. Think about it, remember when you were first learning a new skill whether it is knitting, painting or playing an instrument, think about the thrill of making something that resembled a scarf, picture or a song. Those little wins kept you going. As you begin to master a craft you need to make it more complicated and advanced and the thrill you get from each step higher is not as great as the first thrills you got from knitting row upon row of a wobbly-edged scarf. Finally you have mastered a skill and you are leveled out on the treadmill.

I think the way to maximise your happiness without falling prey to the treadmill is to set daily goals that will put you on a positive path while minimising the “let down” of goals. The other thing about goals is how disappointed you can feel if you don’t hit them, say if your goal is to lose 30lbs by Christmas and you east healthy and exercise every day and only lose 20 you will feel disappointed but if you said “I am going to walk 45 minutes a day, write down everything I eat and make healthy food choices until Christmas” and you look and see you lost 20lbs you would feel great for sticking to a plan and not feel bad because it wasn’t 30. Does that make sense? Make your daily actions reflect who you want future you to be.

How to swap goals for plans:

  • Instead of “I will learn to paint like DaVinci” Try “I will paint 1 hour a day for 3 months”
  • Instead of “I will lose 30lbs by Christmas” Try “I will do some form of exercise each day and eat reasonable portions of healthful food going forward”
  • Instead of “I will have my art published within 6 months” try “I will send out 10 submissions to craft magazines per month.”

Get the idea? And also thing learning new things help push us past the “leveling out” plateau we hit in all areas that we are trying to master. If you painting is at a standstill try collage, knitting or jewelry making. By switching gears you put your brain in that fertile learning space and a colorway or technique in another project might push you past the block you are facing in your main art form. That’s why cross training is so effective in fitness. Try art/craft cross training (I’d say it’s more fun too LOL!)

One more thing to try…I was listening to the Happiness podcast by Gretchen Rubin the other day and one of her viewers called in and suggested making a “Ta-Da!” list instead of a To-do list, at the end of the day (or week) write down everything you accomplished. That way when you are feeling overwhelmed like you haven’t done anything you can look back at your Ta-Da list and see that you really are killing it:) It is the same principle of taking before pics of your pre konmari home, when you have evidence of what you have achieved it helps pull you off the treadmill. You could also keep a blog and post what you make each week, seeing the work add up pays off!

I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment below and continue the conversation. Happy crafting!

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Random Crafty Things I Hoard…

Hi friends! Today I want to talk about some random bits I collect. I was reminded of this while cleaning up after my live stream on Friday afternoon. I put my supplies away and then placed the color swatch I painted to determine what colors I was going to use in the painting in my “random crafty collage junk drawer” I had to giggle at the pile of swatches I have saved over the past 2 years and I thought it would be a nice jumping off point for this weeks Konmari Craft Room video. Remember, it’s NEVER just about the STUFF.

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(If you are reading this in your email click over to my blog to watch the video)

It can be hard to be intentional or even know what we really want or need in this day in age but you can hone your skills to live a life of intention instead of habit. It all started when I read “The life changing magic of tidying up” by Marie kondo and decided to keep only items that sparked joy (or really use) and it was life changing to say the least!

I know my hoarded items are not crazy excessive and they are well contained but I enjoy adding to my stash of color recipes every week (aka live show paint swatches) and the corks are useful and the bottle caps, well, they have a use by date now that I no longer teach little kids craft classes but one thing I can say is that my hoard is intentional where as before the konmari method my hoard was an uncontrolled “Well I better keep this in case I need it, or someone I know needs it, or someone I have not yet met might like it ” scenario.

Last week I talked about how I stopped using baby wipes for a month to see if I really needed them. Did they add value to my life or were they just a habit or convenience? In June I stopped drinking wine except for 2 glasses on a holiday and birthday. Turned out in both cases these things were habits and pacifiers and not items that added as much value as I thought they did. My consumption of either the wine or the wipes was not big but it was also not necessary. I will still enjoy a glass of wine now and then but it will be more like 4 times a month (not week!) It will be a treat, not a habit.  I know it is not an excessive amount and I am not judging anyone, only figuring out what is right for me:)

I guess is there is one thing I’d like you to get from this is to be intentional and differentiate a treat from a habit.  Habitual consuming (eating, drinking, shopping, smoking) can be a real problem because in many cases we aren’t aware that we are doing it and it takes more and more to satisfy us the more we do it. Take coffee for instance, you can have a cup of coffee once in a while and get this burst of energy but if you have it habitually every day you need more and more to get the same effect that one cup used to give you. It becomes the new normal. Every once in a while I wean myself back on coffee so I can still enjoy the benefits without being such a slave to the habit. Shopping can be like that too, a little pretty here, one there and it becomes so frequent that the pleasure we once got from shopping has been dulled and we can’t appreciate any of the things we purchased. Then we wonder why we are so unsatisfied.

I say if you want a habit then pick a good one: Daily exercise (oddly enough I used to hate to exercise but I discovered podcasts so now I look forward to my evening walk with a  TED Talk and it has become a treat!), volunteering, spending time with loved ones, making art, learning a musical instrument or even tidying up. Those can become things you don’t even think about, you just get in the habit of doing them and they only benefit you and your family. They say you don’t quit a habit, you replace it, so let’s intentionally replace the habits that don’t add value to our lives with ones that do. I’ll drink to that!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, til next time happy crafting!

A Minimalist Craft Haul???

Hi friends! As you know I have been on a massive declutter of my home and craft room over the past 6 months. It has been life changing to say the least. I have accomplished so many things that I have not had time to do before (such as creating my first watercolor course ) because I am not overwhelmed with so much needless stuff stealing my attention. Up until now I have managed to resist shopping, I was never a big shopper before, and the only “new” stuff that had entered my craft room has been supplied from clients for freelance projects. So last week when my friend Kathy asked me if I was going to check out the big sale at Joann Fabrics (there was a 40% off your total regular price purchase coupon) I was conflicted. I didn’t want to go back to my old hoarding ways but I actually needed a pack of thin black cardstock as I had used up my stash and even all of my scraps so I decided to take her up on the offer. Did I fall off the wagon? Find out in today’s video!

Video!!!

Hooray, not only did I not fall off the wagon I was able to find the two things I actually needed! I valued the experience of shopping with my best friend and that was enough, I did not need to come home with a car full of bargains to justify the trip into town. I feel like decluttering has given me a whole change in mindset and I credit the Konmari method for this. If you want to learn more about how I used the Konmari method from the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to declutter my craft room you can see the blog post and video here. The reason it worked for me I think is because you gather up all of your possessions by category on the floor in a pile and pick each thing up and ask yourself “does this spark joy” if yes you keep it, if not you get rid of it. I used to think it was the “joy” that made the method work but now I think it is the fact that you confront the big pile of abundance. I think I used to hoard supplies because I felt a scarcity. “What if I use it up and can’t get any more?” “What if it becomes really expensive and I can’t afford to buy more?” “What if zombies take over and all the craft stores go out of business?” This exercise, while it may seem silly or unnecessary, showed me that I had an over abundance to share and after getting rid of what I did I still have plenty. I have plenty and I am content. This thinking about a future of scarcity also leads us to be anxious. You should totally plan for the future but don’t obsess about it, besides our future will be more secure if we have more money in the bank and less crap in our house to trip over.

Tips to avoid over buying (from a gal who used to love stocking up on bargains “just in case”)

  1. Don’t look at the price. Look at the item you are considering buying, determine how much value it will add to your life. Look at the “real cost” of the item (the real cost is the price of the item plus the maintenance and storage) and determine if it is worth adding to your life and then look at the price and see if it is worth the cost. *BTW if you did not know this item existed before you saw it in the store you probably don’t need it.
  2. Determine how much you can actually use. I will stock up on some items I know I will use, If I see a great buy on Arches watercolor paper and I have room in my under bed paper storage I will snag it but you need to make sure it is something you will use up. Also factor in the savings vs losing that storage space until you use it up. In many cases the storage space is more valuable than the item over time. *This was the hardest issue for me because I used to teach art full-time professionally so I was always looking to stretch a supply budget.
  3. Where everyone else is getting the hot new product and you are feeling caught up in the “gottahaveits!” ask yourself if this new thing just duplicates something I already have (do I need the Gelatos, Prima Oil pastels and Distress Crayons or can I make do with one?) Look at stamp and paper designs this way too, every year there are new cupcake, butterfly and botanical stamps coming out. Are you buying the same things over and over? Make sure your new purchases are really adding value to your stash and perhaps weed out the duplicates.
  4. Ask yourself “Why do I want this?” Think about the things that we didn’t even know existed and then Bam! we want them. If you have trouble with this you can unsubscribe from sales emails and place the catalogs right in the recycle bin as soon as they come to avoid temptation. Don’t worry, theses products will still exist in the future if you need them.
  5. The next time you are tempted to shop play with the supplies you already have. The real joy is in the creating, not the acquiring.

I hope I don’t sound like a buzz kill. I totally know the “high” of finding fun new art supplies and getting a screaming deal but you can replace that high with the high of creating awesome stuff with the supplies you have and the thrill of using something up. I used to be afraid of using something up (what if I can’t get it again) but there are always more and newer things we desire and if you do use something up you can get something else and enjoy a cleaner home in the meantime! We worry about “wasting” our supplies but the real waste is letting them sit on a shelf unused gathering dust, we buy these things to use them, not to have them so go and make a beautiful mess already! That’s what I am going to do today:) Happy crafting!

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STUFF: What to Keep, Buy or Declutter from Your Life {My 4 “H” Method}

Hi friends!  I have been decluttering my home for 6 months and it’s no surprise my craft area was (and still is) the most thing-dense area. I must say that I have a more reasonable amount of things and it really feels good to pass on some of my hoard to schools, friends and the thrift shops. Today I want to talk about the things we keep. The things that add value to our lives. The things that make us happier, smarter and more secure (and I’m not talking about the false sense of security of all of the “just in case” back up stuff (I think that actually causes us more anxiety.) I believe in investing our time and money in what I call the 4 “H”s: Head, Heart, Health and Home. Fore more on that please watch (or listen to while you do something else like craft, declutter or paint) today’s video.

Video!

It can be painful to part with things especially if we think about what they cost but by focusing on investing in the things that matter most it can make letting go of things that are not serving us easier.

My 4 “H”s of Investment

All of your possessions require an investment. You have to pay for them, maintain them, clean them, store them, put batteries in them, feed them and think about them. Paying for the things we own does not end when we get them home so we need to make wise choices about how they might affect us long-term. Before buying ask yourself if it benefits your…

  • Head: Education, learning something new, taking a class, reading a book (you can then pass the book on because the knowledge is in your head!) Learning a new hobby or perfecting it also helps your brain so if you are using those hobby supplies then keep them! They are likely to put you in a good mood as well.
  • Heart: Friendships & family.  A board game that you get joy from playing with your family is a keeper! So is a table with plenty of chairs for your friends. Does this object nurture your relationships? If so it is a good investment to buy or keep.
  • Health: Does this make you more healthy, a yoga mat you use everyday is worth a place in your home but the dumbbells gathering dust iare not.
  • Home: Keeping tools or other items that you use to maintain your home is a great investment, a house appreciates in value if taken care of so invest time there. Discard things that do not add value to your life and clutter up your home. A house full of clutter can make you sick as well because it can be so hard to clean and dust everything, you could even get mice or bugs which can make you sick.

My husband got me the book “Goodbye Things” by Fumio Sasaki and I loved it. It is a bit herky-jerky to read in the beginning but smooths out. I’ve also listened to some of the audiobook while I was working on a project. I love how the advice is practical and the 50 tips/chapters were punchy and short so I could read one, get inspired and tackle another project and at the end of the book is a recap of the chapters in list form to jog your memory. As much as I LOVED “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo I think Goodbye Things is a bit more practical. The author was a hoarder who changed his ways whereas Marie Kondo was always a minimalist. It’s good to see different points of view. For me the “does it spark joy” was a great place to start (I’m referencing the“Life Changing” book) but now I am realizing that I like a lot of things and it is not enough of a reason to keep or buy something. Imagine going to the craft store and buying everything that “sparked joy” LOL! I’d need a bigger house and fatter wallet and in the end I’m sure I wouldn’t be a lick happier. Now I can like things but store them at the store OR like something I have but give it to someone who can use it more than I will. I’m not perfect, I still have more than I need but I am finally feeling the sense of peace and balance I have been craving. I hope you got some value out of this vlog today. I will have fun batch of cards tutorial for you tomorrow, til then happy crafting!

 

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