Tag Archives: mindfulness

Embracing Minimalism

Living a simpler and less cluttered life is gaining fans around the world. Here’s some key trends.

1. Tiny living

Rapidly growing global populations mean homes are getting smaller – from micro apartments, re-purposed shipping containers to tiny houses.  But, living small does not have to mean living in a cramped space, with designers increasingly focused on maximising every inch of space.

Sydney architect Spencer Jones says today there are many design elements that can be used to maximise space.

“In cities like Paris where living spaces are very small, people often have made-to-measure, full-height joinery to store as much as they can and leave the rest of the floor empty.

“Designers are also taking inspiration from caravan or boat architecture, using spaces for multiple functions. We are seeing more bedrooms that double as living and dining spaces, multi-function furniture and the use of mezzanine floors in smaller spaces.”

2. Mindful consumption

Australian consumers tend to have high consumption habits. Yet research by Santander Trade also finds we are increasingly concerned with our health and the environment, which is helping to drive a trend towards more mindful purchases.

If you are aiming to become a more mindful consumer, here are some tips to get started:

  • Shop for locally produced and made products instead of imported goods.
  • Buy secondhand from charity shops or online listings. Older or vintage items are usually better quality and will last longer.
  • Choose eco-friendly goods made from recyclable materials.

3. Decluttering

According to blogger Joshua Becker, of lifestyle blog Becoming Minimalist, there are many benefits to owning fewer possessions – less to clean, less debt, less to organise, less stress and more money.

One method Becker recommends to declutter your home is the ’12-12-12 Challenge’. Find 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate and 12 items to be returned to their proper home.


Our living, shopping and lifestyle habits have moved on considerably from the 80s and 90s when conspicuous consumption was the norm. Today’s consumers are discovering that living with less can not only help the environment and our pockets but can also help to reduce our stress levels too.

Making an Enlightened Choice

We are faced with choices every day of our lives.  And many choices, every hour of every day…  We have choices about what we say, what we eat, what we think, whether or not to be kind, choices about what we’ll wear, how we’ll invest, what we’ll spend our time or money on and how we’ll respond in certain situations…

Do you try to be ‘mindful’ when making choices?  Do you base your responses on your habits or a conditioned and well thought through response?

You’ve probably noticed that there’s a big difference between an enlightened choice and a reactive choice and we know how much better it feels when we make one over the other.  And how we’re quick to judge or flare up when people respond to us with anger, sarcasm or from a place of fear.

At the risk of sounding a little (or a lot) woo-woo, an enlightened choice is based on being present and choosing something that feels in line with love and kindness, with being who we ultimately want to be. You know, that deep gut feeling you get when something is ‘just right.’  Although often applied to behavioural responses, it can also apply when starting a financial plan that is in line with our goals and works to achieve our outcomes over the long term.

A reactive choice is based on doing what we have always done, on wanting to stay consistent with how we have always been, even when we know that hasn’t served us in the past.  Taking the hot tip from the taxi driver on the latest shares, or jumping into investing in gold because our mate just made a killing doing that, is ‘responsive investing’ and rarely in our best interest.

Today, be really mindful when choices come up for you. Ask yourself, am I making an enlightened choice here or a reactive choice?  And take your time, it’s easy to stay in the habit of our knee-jerk responses and takes effort to learn to wait and think things through before we respond.

Where would you like to start practising mindfulness in your decisions?  With family? Friends? At work?  With our finances?

Lessons from the Past

Some of us have challenges when we reach those big milestone ages of 30, 40, 50, 60 etc.

We put pressure on ourselves about what we should have achieved and how much we should have accomplished.  There are pressures from the media on how we should look, how much we should have in the bank, how many investment properties and should have, how many places we should have visited and sometimes,  when we don’t meet these cultural criteria, we suffer.

Others set out on a journey of adventure – 40 things by 40!  Suddenly, they’re jumping out of planes, dancing naked in the moonlight and splurging on holidays they’d never taken…  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

The truth is anything can happen, at any age and any time; and there are no set rules.  No-one says you need to be 65 kgs, have 2.2 kids, a dog, a station wagon, and a house with a white picket fence, a $10,000 emergency fund and budding portfolio.  (Thank goodness, my station wagon days are sooo over!  And I think my cat is my 0.2 of a child…)

Learn from your past and look forward to a beautiful future.  End of story.

Today, be mindful about what you have already done so far in your life.  Really.  Truly.  What can you acknowledge yourself for?  Age is completely irrelevant.

In the wise words of Rafiki, “Oh yes, the past can hurt, but you can either run from it, or learn from it.”  (Thank you, The Lion King.)

Have you collected amazing memories?  Made a beautiful family?  Learnt a skill you’d always wanted to?  Paid off your home?  Are you content with your life?  Is real wealth to you a cuddle from a loved one?  Does giving make you feel successful?

What cool lessons we’ve learned so far.  I wonder what else the future has in store?

Come from a place of Abundance

Have you heard that some feel there are 2 styles of different approaches to life:

You can come from Abundance or Scarcity.

Those who think from a place of abundance believe that there are more jobs to be found, more partners to meet, more homes to provide shelter, more money to made, had, invested and earned, more happy people, more opportunities out there to seize, and even more time!  They believe that the more you give, the more you get.  They’re happy to share their knowledge, contacts and compassion.  They are thankful and confident people.

Those who think from a place of scarcity believe there are no more jobs to be had, they’re out of opportunities, there’s no more good partners to be found, and financially things will never get any better.  They avoid risk, view others as being competitors, and the more you give, the more it costs.  They are often suspicious and find it hard to build rapport.  They may be pessimistic about the future and fearful.

Our internal dialogue and who we see ourself to be influences every part of our life.  Our ideas around whether we will find a job, have children, discover a new partner, find a solution to our problem or sort out our financial worries is all influenced by how we feel.

Which camp is your thinking in?  Are you coming from a place of Abundance or Scarcity?

Look around at people you know and work or hang out with. It’s usually pretty obvious to pick out who’s operating from a place of lack or abundance.

Play a game for a week:  review some of the thoughts you’ve had or the decisions you’ve made, see where the thinking was based.

Start training your mind to see abundance in everything, not only financially (although that’s once place to start!)

Finding financial fulfilment

We’re all seeking the feeling of fulfilment; whether in our relationships, employment or financial situation.

Ask yourself:  “How will I find fulfilment?”

You probably spend most of your life working, seeking a form of happiness within your role, or if not, hoping that at least the financial rewards will be worth it.

But, if our employment doesn’t, or won’t give us what we’re looking for, what will?

I once heard a beautiful expression, “if you can’t love what you do, at least bring love to what you do.”  Is that possible for you?

To throw in another cliché – if life isn’t about “finding yourself” and it’s about “creating yourself” what can you implement to bring you closer to any kind of fulfilment?

Personally, we can set an intention to find peace with our financial situation, or create ways to change it.   Do research, learn more, start investing, be frugal, and live within our means.

We can also learn to create loving relationships with friends, family and finances, and find ways to make a difference to our fellow human beings and financial situation.

In the end, that’s what will make us feel fulfilled.

Time to be a Receiver…

Most of us are familiar with the Biblical expression ‘There is more happiness in giving than receiving.’  And for the most part, that’s incredibly true.

Even Anne Frank chimed in that “No one has ever become poor from giving.”  And one of the biggest joys we have, is seeing the face of the receiver of our gift, light up.

But our minds can be wired to believe that we’re not worthy of receiving much.  Now and then, we want to ask for things, someone’s time or help and at the same time, feel that maybe we don’t deserve assistance.  This can energetically keep the help we desire away from us.

Have you noticed though that some things just seem to fall into certain people’s laps?  They manage to win things, get items for free, land that job they were after, get that pay rise and that things just seem to work out without too much effort.  Chances are, they’re good receivers.  They have a self worth that’s wired to feel that they deserve to receive and become good at it, whether it’s big or small.

Are you good at receiving?  How are you at receiving compliments?  If someone admires your outfit are you more likely to accept graciously or say ‘what, this old rag?’  Do you gladly receive unexpected gifts, invitations, upgrades when offered, financial windfalls or anything good that life has in store for you?  Is gratitude a daily practice for you?

Or do you demur and resist?  Deep down, do you feel a little unworthy?  You push back and feel an obligation to the giver, even just a little?

Learning to receive, say ‘Yes and Thank You’ is a gift in itself.  Then just be quiet.  There’s a lot of good out there, and chances are, some of it will head your way.    Learn to enjoy it and embrace it.

And along with being a fabulous giver, learn to be a good receiver too.

Workout Time for your Change Muscle!

Chances are, that anyone you know or cross paths with, has gone through a long list of difficult life changes.

Perhaps they have suffered personal tragedy – lost a loved one, endured a chronic illness or injury, nursed someone through ill health, suffered from depression, ended a life partnership, had a miscarriage, or unsuccessfully undergone various IVF procedures.

Sometimes, the issues are financial – they’ve lost a job, been stuck in a career they hate, been ripped off and lost their savings or their home, made poor investment decisions, or had to start over financially after a major change in health or circumstances…

Tragedies are an unfortunate part of the human experience.  But also an opportunity in some instances…

Sometimes it seems ‘it never rains but it pours’ and we undergo more than we ever thought we’d have to bear.  And, it’s highly likely you have faced some of those challenges too.  Maybe even quite a few!

So, what’s the hardest change you’ve ever had to face?

Can you remember if there was something specifically that got you through the experience?  Was it time as a healer?  Your faith?  Friends and family?  Better educating yourself?  Charitable work?

Although not part of our physical anatomy and you never learned about it in school, you have a “change muscle.”  It’s a part of you that is able to handle any change and has actually already worked out handling the myriad of life experiences you’ve thrown at it in the past.

You’re likely to be much more resilient and better at change than you believe you are. Just like real muscle, the change muscle remembers every change you’ve ever been through.  Muscle memory is a real thing and grows stronger through repetition.

Don’t underestimate your ability to handle the change you’re currently facing, whether personal or financial.  There’s bound to be more ahead, and the more you work it, the better you’ll become at it!

I’d love to hear what challenges you’ve faced, and how you’ve been able to embrace the changes and move on.  How did you work out your change muscle?  Can you use those lessons to get through challenges that are currently facing?

Do you have an Upper Limit?

My mother was a great fan of the expression, “I’ve had it up to here!” indicating somewhere above her head in exasperation at her three children up to their usual tricks.

By this stage, all of her 4 foot and 11 inches were well and truly ruffled and we were left in no doubt that we’d met the ‘upper limit’ of her tolerance in this instance.

What you may not be aware of however, is that some of us put a limit on how much money is ok for us to have.  And to that end, we can self sabotage.  We find ways of not making enough, losing it or spending it so that we don’t go beyond our self-imposed limit.  This limit has often been unconsciously led by our personal negative beliefs or even unspoken family loyalties.

It might just be time to ask yourself whether you really give yourself permission to have more money… even a lot more money.  Are you capable of earning and receiving more?  Do you feel worthy enough to attract more wealth into your life?

You might be surprised to find that you’ve set an unconscious upper limit for yourself!  And just maybe it’s time to take stock and challenge that belief.

I’d love to hear if you’ve found that you share this belief and what you’ve done to overcome it?

Shake it up!

Most of us have issues with change… out brains are wired to keep us safe, in comfort.  Often, we’re particularly challenged with changes needed on the financial front – unless of course it’s a big fat pay rise and promotion heading your way!!

A reluctance to cut your losses and sell down a losing investment is one thing, but have you ever felt resistant to any form of financial change?  Bucking at the smallest tweaks you know are necessary?

Maybe you just really don’t want to sit down and do your budget, perhaps you don’t want to put extra funds into your retirement savings, you don’t want to cut out that unnecessary expense, or take the time to research that new credit card or loan that might offer better benefits at a lower interest rate.

This behaviour is pretty widespread, and what behavioural economists classify as the “status quo bias.”  While you may not want to upset your emotional apple cart, at times it’s definitely in your best interest to do so.  And like in all areas of change, starting in baby steps is always a good idea.

Shouldn’t you cancel that gym membership you never use, but keep paying for anyway because you figure maybe someday you’ll be motivated enough to go? Perhaps, instead of cancelling your membership outright, start off small by freezing your account for one month.  See how much you really miss it and if you’re motivated to start heading back and hitting the weights.  Otherwise, why hold on?

That morning heart-starter coffee you stop by your local for every single morning, can you cut it back to three days a week, then two… maybe even as a weekly treat?

Not only are incremental steps less likely to trigger your worry of regret or fear of the unknown, but they allow you to assess your feelings along the way to see how you’re coping with the change.

If after a month you prefer to revert to the way things were, there’s really no harm done, although you may also find that making smart, small and calculated changes isn’t as scary as you thought it would be.

As for big picture changes—like reworking your superannuation savings plan or assessing your investment progress, pick strategic times of the year to analyse your strategies.  The new financial year in July may be a good time to revisit your options.  Should you then review your health insurance or salary sacrifice arrangements?  A new calendar year may call for a simple new resolution.  Easter holidays may be a time to revisit what you’ve set in motion.

What works for you?  And shake it up and keep it interesting!  That’s the best way to stay on track.