Be kind. If there is one quote I try to live my life by, it’s “always be kinder than you feel.” You never know what your act of kindness could do to someone’s day.
“Can the mind change the brain?” Dr. Caroline Leaf asks the TedTalks crowd, “can a brain that’s damaged grow?”
One of the most valuable tools we can ever utilize is our brains. Yes, your noggin can be your greatest weapon.
Mental illness is running rampant in our society. Our generation is experiencing anxiety, depression, and other forms of illnesses like never before. I have fought my own battles with mental illness in the past, and although my anxiety today is not as severe as it once was, I still experience the symptoms of it pretty often.
It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I heard THIS message by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, that I was able to take control of my thoughts that triggered my anxiety. Since hearing the message and reading her book, I have seen tremendous change in the way I handle my anxious thoughts.
I chose this topic and resolution as my Friday Fav because of how important it is and how powerful these techniques can change a person dealing with mental illness. I encourage you to read/listen to the words of Dr. Caroline Leaf if you find yourself struggling with your thoughts and feelings.
When Jordan and I got engaged (story here), we started the journey of joining our lives together.
When we decided to join our lives together as one, we were agreeing to take care of one another as we would want to be taken care of, we agreed to a life-long promise of listening and loving and making our relationship work through the good and the bad.
We agreed to support each other’s dreams and goals.
We decided that no matter what, we had enough in our relationship with God and in our marriage.
We adopted a minimalist mindset for our marriage, and it has benefitted us more than we thought possible. Here’s how:
Minimalism + Money
For over the past year, Jordan and I have been stewarding our finances in preparation for our marriage.
We have the necessities in mind: rent, groceries, car payments, etc.
But we have dreams to travel. We have joined our mindsets together and realized that minimalism will make way for us to be disciplined with our money and create the life that we both want to live.
Minimalism + Mind/Body/Health
Like I stated earlier, minimalism creates a mindset that says “I have enough,” but it also makes space for us to use our money in different ways–ways that better us. Less mindless spending means more intentional purchases
Less mindless spending means more intentional purchases that better our health, such as food. Being picky and ruthless in your diet will make a huge overall difference in your health. Being alert and energized has a lot to do with what you put in your body. Skipping the purchasing of loads of cheap food and refining your grocery list to a smaller, more tailored and intentional list of healthy options will show you how you can eat well and spend wisely.
Minimalism will also help redefine what you spend the bulk of your time doing. It causes you to take a step back and evaluate the influence of your daily decisions. You will begin to weed out the activities that don’t inspire you or keep your body in good health and replace them with activities that do.
Minimalism + Making Decisions
Now when invitations pop up, or if we are just trying to decide what to cook for dinner, we are able to make better decisions together because our mindset and focus are going in the same direction.
We ask ourselves: what makes more sense in regards to our time and finances? Where are we putting our effort and energy into right now, and does this decision reflect that?
I encourage every couple to explore more into the idea of minimalism in their marriages, or their dating relationships.
When minimalism is adopted into a couple’s life:
The arguments over spending minimize.
The money lost over pointless spending diminish.
The time used doing mindless activities decrease.
And the quality of life is restored.
It’s 7:00 am. Your alarm goes off. Your half awake/half asleep body musters up enough energy to open half of one eye, lift your arm and search for your phone to stop the annoying sound it’s emitting. You’re annoyed because 1. it is early, 2. that annoying sound won’t quit, and 3. it’s early.
20-year-olds are supposed to get 8 hours of sleep a night, but frankly, sometimes that feels like a nap. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how early we get to bed, waking up can be a struggle on any given morning.
In college, or if you are working a full-time job and doing real adult things, sleep can seem like a lost commodity. Life gets busy; papers need to be written, friends need to be hung out with, movies need to be watched. I get it.
If you have never heard of a sleep debt? Well, it’s a real thing. It happens when we humans don’t get the adequate rest we need and bad stuff gets trapped in our blood or something. Sleeping literally does so much to clear our body of toxins. Read up about it, it is fascinating stuff!
In order to truly maximize your time during the day, you need to first start with your sleeping habits at night. Here are some tips to get you through this week fully rested, your body clear of toxins, and your mind operating at its highest capacity!
#1: Get off your phone.
Seriously. The tweets, pointless Facebook videos, endless scrolling through Instagram memes, they can get addicting once you climb into bed, but they are butting in on precious time your body should be resting. On average, you lose almost one hour of sleep by reaching for your phone right when you lay your head on your pillow.
I suggest unplugging yourself from any form of technology 30-45 minutes before you want to be asleep to put your eyes and mind at rest from all that the interwebs have to offer.
#2: Relax your mind and body.
There are tons of ways to relax yourself before drifting off to sleep. A few of my favorite ways to relax pinpoint different areas of my life that may be causing my brain to overwork itself.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious: focus on breathing deeply and slowly, play calming instrumental music , or make a cup of chamomile tea. If your body is feeling tense or overworked, massage these specific pressure points to relieve some of the tension. One huge thing that I noticed I was doing during those nights where I couldn’t fall asleep was clenching my jaw. I read an article about how clenching my jaw was keeping my body from relaxing and falling asleep. Now if I am having a hard time falling asleep, I will check to see if I am holding tension in my jaw–most of the time I am and I don’t notice!
#3: Prepare to wake up.
This is so important! How you wake up will set the tone for your day. Set an alarm that is calming or happy–there are so many different alarm sounds to pick from on your smartphone. If you are a heavy sleeper, turn up the volume of your alarm and have it set to also vibrate while it goes off. Waking up to an obnoxious noise or annoying beep will make you wake up frustrated or freaked out when it blares. You shouldn’t wake up scared by an alarm you set for yourself. Take control over how you wake up and you’ll take control over your day!
I hope these tips help you as much as they help me! The state of mind I fall asleep and wake up with affect the way I view my day. Take care of yourself and your body will thank you.
“Sunday is the most segregated day of the week,” entrepreneur Scott Williams’ voice rings out in Bush Chapel, “what MLK spoke decades ago still stands true today.”
I look around and see many, many students crammed together under one roof for this morning’s chapel service. I take note of our differences but celebrate the fact that we are all here to hear the same word–accepting the same truth in our lives.
“If you don’t like diversity, you’re not going to like heaven,” Williams laughs, as the hundreds of us laugh along while nodding in agreement with him.
Today, on a Tuesday morning at 9am, I attended the first Athletic Chapel at my university. I go to a Christian university where we are dedicated to making space for all types of people doing all kinds of things on and for our school, and today was the first chapel of the year for athletes and students to join together to learn something from every team on campus.
I’m not an athlete; I don’t understand sports talk. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if there was much I could learn from a service dedicated to athletes. But I do understand the few things we have in common and try to relate to those things.
Like the fact that just being a student in college is difficult at times. The tests, the homework, the projects, and presentations; trying to balance social life with a decent GPA. It gets tiring. Sometimes I wonder if I will survive. But it wasn’t until our campus pastor got up on stage and laid out what student athletes endure every semester until I realized I know nothing about their struggle.
“The 6am practices, the ice baths, lifting weights and physical therapy,” the campus pastor says to the crowd of students gathered together, “on top of studying for exams, taking quizzes, writing papers, attending class. Blood, sweat and tears shed and–most of the time only God is watching you.”
It struck me. I am sitting in a room full of hundreds of athletes who attend class and write papers just like I do, yet who also face a whole different struggle that I will never know.
Sometimes in our struggle, we are only seen by God.
“The things you do in secret are the most effective for the kingdom,” says one bright student athlete while sharing her devotions for offering this morning. She encouraged the athletes and non-athletes alike to seek God and do what we know is good and noble–even when no one is looking.
Even when no one is looking.
Sometimes it’s me who’s not looking while my neighbor struggles.
My responsibility and calling as a follower of Christ is to follow the great commandment, to love God with all my heart and the great commission, to love my neighbor as myself and make disciples from every nation.
“It is the great commission, not the great omission where we go out and make disciples and omit the part where it says ‘from all nations.'” Scott Williams
“How are you adding to the solution?” says Williams, “how are you going out of your way to listen to your neighbor?”
Despite what we are going through personally, love should seek first to listen before it is ever heard.
We should all be working towards the common good–even if it’s not the same cause. As Christians and fellow brothers and sisters, we are all working together to move the ball down the field for the better of our neighbor, our country, and the world.
I wanted to transition into my next phase of topics that I look forward to covering on this blog, and I thought, what better way to transition out of minimalism and living simply than to cover some thoughts and ideas on how to survive college by first starting with the basics–taking care of yourself.
As I type this, my room isn’t so much in shambles (as it can sometimes get) but there were definitely too many things on my bed which would, in turn, require too much energy of me to make space for myself on it. Bypassing that altogether I picked a nice, cozy spot on my floor (note: sarcasm).
I look around me and within a 1-foot radius, there is a pile of mugs, a gift bag, clothes, papers and a few miscellaneous items surrounding where I sit. None of these items belong where they reside on my floor at the present time. But I have too many things on my to-do list that sit above cleaning my space.
I have come to realize that my room reflects my brain. If my room is unorganized, I am unorganized. If my brain is going in a million different directions, my stuff is in a million different (wrong) places all over my tiny room.
I have always been a pretty neat and tidy person. I enjoy being able to have a place for all my things. But if there is one thing I have learned is that throughout my transitions in college, is that I am now the main person of contact in looking after myself. Sounds silly, but for a while there, we depend on our parents to keep us in line as we live under their roof, but there comes a time where we break away from the nest and venture off on our own–and we need to be there for ourselves.
I have discovered the life-changing magic of tidying up.
Like I said, I am a pretty organized person with her moments of minimal destruction, but here’s a little boost to those who may not be so neat. I present the magical formula to staying tidy! (The outcome really is magical!!!)
Here are some of the lessons I take away from being tidy (and others have taken notice of this magical feeling too!)
- I own my things, my things don’t own me, but I should respect the things that I own because I (or someone I love) worked hard to provide them for me!
- There is a right way and a wrong way to store my things–Marie Kondo believes that if you put things in a way you can easily access and view them, you will come to notice what you value and what you don’t. (There is even a specific way she instructs how to fold your clothes–you can even just simply Google it).
- I have come to really love the things that I have. Marie Kondo teaches you to only display things in your space that “spark joy.” Everything else goes.
Trust me. In college, there is a lot going on in your life already. Let your room (however small it may be) be a place of rest and peace and a place that reflects you.
Make your bed. Fold your clothes. Display what you love. Light a candle. Breathe.
Back in January of this year, I ran across this blog post by one of my favorite bloggers. And it changed my life. Here’s how:
Prior to running across said blog post that changed my life, I was becoming really interested in minimalism and ready to take whatever kind of leap that catapulted me into the minimalist community.
I was reading Do Less by Rachel Jonat and pumping myself up about simplifying my life in every area.
But I kept hitting a wall. I wanted the “look” of a minimalist, but that required me to go after this idea of a perfect wardrobe, sleek electronics, and decorative clean lines. I was unsatisfied with what I had, but I wanted less, but I also didn’t want to give anything up.
When I read Hannah Brencher’s post, something clicked.
For 3 months, I took on the challenge of being completely content with what I own and not buying a single thing (outside of personal necessities) for 3 months. No leisurely strolls around Target, no going out to eat (instead, eating the food provided in my meal plan at my university), and no Internet browsing for needless things.
I bought my necessities that week (make-up, hygiene products, etc.) that would last me a few months, and I faced the challenge head-on. For the few weeks following my original decision to stop buying unnecessary things, I had to explain my reasoning to so many people I felt like I was doing something weird. The main question most people asked was, “how in the world are you going to last 3 months?”
But I lasted 3 months. In fact, I lasted a lot longer. It became a mindset. I learned that to be content in such an unsatisfied world is a brave and sometimes lonely thing to do. Sure, I didn’t order a drink when I went out to coffee shops with friends, but it really didn’t matter to me. My mind had gone from being so needy of new things, nicer clothes, a newer phone, to realizing what I had to the fullest extent.
I became more thoughtful with my spending.
I was less stressed about what to wear.
I noticed I had a lot more free time to put towards experiences.
I gave up discontentment and spent my time seeking out new places to put my energy into. I learned that a lot of fulfilling things are free, like just being outside and taking into account how beautiful creation is. It competes for nothing. Contentment looks real simple, actually. I was given control over how things were going to affect me instead of the other way around. It was a reboot to what I learned about possessions slowly and over time. It was necessary and life-changing.
I would encourage everyone to try this challenge at least once in their life. Let yourself experience 3 months without the pressures of consumerism. It sounds dramatic, but until you experience it for yourself, you won’t realize how much freedom you’re missing out on. It is incredibly freeing, and you’ll learn a thing or two about yourself and how amazing your life actually is.
Once you need less, you will have more.