SPARK JOY MEETS THE SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS – PART​ 5

This is part 5 of the 6-week series of my experience learning the Science of Well-being from the Yale University class taught through Coursera.org. This week, we were given a lot of information on ways to switch to “better wanting” for things that have proven to help us feel happier. I’m going to highlight the key points and how they relate to the KonMari method and organizing. 

GROWTH VS FIXED MINDSET
You may have heard something called the Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset. People who have a fixed mindset avoids challenges, gives up easily, and sees the effort as a negative, they ignore useful feedback and feel threatened by other’s success. When it comes to organizing, those with a fixed mindset tend to label themselves as lazy or just not someone who can keep things organized. They may start to declutter, but gets overwhelmed and think “what’s the point, it’ll get messy again.” 

A Growth minded person embraces challenges. They are motivated to put in the time and energy in mastering a skill, they learn from criticism, and persists in the face of obstacles. Clients who have the growth mindset tend to successfully complete their tidying and gain a lot of confidence. They are willing to put in the hard work to make a decision on every item. They are also willing to continue to practice the KonMari method in other aspects of their lives.

There are so many studies out there that have shown people with a growth mindset live a happier life. And I know from my clients who have successfully tidied their homes, that their perseverance and hard work has paid off in a more joyful life.

KINDNESS
By simply being kind to others will bring us happiness. In one research, they found that our intuition is to think that spending money on ourselves will make us happy, but in reality, people are happier when they spend it on someone else. So by giving away or donating items to someone who can benefit from it, you relieve yourself from the guilt of feeling wasteful. Instead, you will feel good knowing that you’ve done something kind for another person in need. And by only spending money thoughtfully on things that bringing you joy, you may actually end up with extra money to give to charities you support or feel more generous to buy a cup of coffee for a friend. 

SOCIAL CONNECTION
It’s no news that spending time with people we like increases our happiness. Research has shown that just by eating a cookie next to a friend will make that cookie tastes better! And in my experience with organizing, those who start the process with a friend, or is part of a KonMari online group, have a much better experience compared to those doing it alone. Sharing brings more joy. 

TIME AFFLUENCE
When you have time to do the stuff you want to do, you are able to savor the moment. You will feel happier because you are not spending time and energy worrying about other stuff. Especially when we already know worrying is really a waste because it doesn’t change the outcome. 

When someone commits to tidying their entire home, they gain so much valuable time and energy because it’s easy to find the things they know they already love and use. I definitely experienced this after I completely decluttered my home. I started to spend more time taking care of myself and have time to cook more healthy meals for my family. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”

MIND CONTROL
Studies show that 47% of the time our minds wander all over the place. That’s the default network part of our brain when a person is not involved in a task. And as it turns out, it’s the same part of our brain used when we are thinking about the past and the future or others. And generally, those are negative thoughts that bring anxiety, stress, and fear. 

To curb your mind from wandering, you can try to meditate and actively strengthen your brain tissue to focus. The effects don’t just affect you at the moment, but goes beyond after your meditation to keep you feeling calm and focused. 

As a creative person, I find my mind wanders a lot. I admit I don’t enjoy meditating. However, I have found that folding the KonMari way is a kind of meditation for me. I focus on the folding, and I infuse love and positive energy into the clothes I’m folding. So if you are like me, who has a hard time just sitting still. Try to “meditate” while you fold! 

HEALTHY PRACTICES
The last part of the lecture talks about this magic solution that can make you feel happier, stronger, more beautiful, and smarter. The best part is, it’s free! What is this magic? It’s…sleep and exercise! These healthy practices sound like common sense but most of us don’t make it a priority because we focus too much on the things that don’t bring us lasting happiness. (Making more money instead of making more time, focusing on better grades instead of promoting the love for learning.)

When we make the effort to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes at a time, you will have more energy, think more clearly, sleep better, and overall feel more positive. And sleeping at least 7-8 hours improves your overall health, as opposed to less than 5 hours which is considered sleep deprived, can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.

As mentioned earlier, being organized saves you a lot of time so you can use it by taking better care of yourself. How about clearing out space in your home for a treadmill? Or use the money from selling the stuff you don’t want to replace the old mattress or pillow to improve your sleep? 

I hope you will try some of these techniques to help improve your level of happiness. I’d love to hear how they work for you. 

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