INSPIRATIONAL

  • Nigeria's royal wedding: Private jets, glitz and glamour

    Nigeria's royal wedding: Private jets, glitz and glamour

     
     
    Yusuf Buhari and Zahra Nasir BayeroIMAGE SOURCE@WRAITH_STUDIOS
    image captionYusuf Buhari and Zahra Nasir Bayero met at the UK's University of Surrey

    Private jets filled up the runway of the airport in the northern Nigerian city of Kano as members of Nigeria's elite and West African dignitaries flew in for the wedding of the president's son and the daughter of a prominent religious and traditional leader.

    The marriage of Yusuf Buhari to Zahra Nasir Bayero is one of Nigeria's biggest celebrity events of the year.

    Thousands attended the event at the palace of the Emir of Bichi, a town in Kano state.

    One historian told the BBC that a wedding between presidential and royal families was unprecedented in Nigeria.

    The pair met at the University of Surrey in the UK.

    The festivities continued on Saturday, when the bride's father Nasir Ado Bayero was officially crowned as the Emir of Bichi. His brother is the Emir of Kano, one of Nigeria's most prominent Islamic leaders.

    The Emir of Bichi holding the staff of office
    image captionThe Emir of Bichi (in white) was given the staff of office at another elaborate ceremony on Saturday

    The newlywed couple did not attend that ceremony.

    Yusuf BuhariIMAGE SOURCE@WRAITH_STUDIOS
    image captionYusuf Buhari is the president's only surviving son

    The groom's family paid 500,000 naira ($1,200; £900) as the bride price - about 10 times the average amount in northern Nigeria.

    The BBC's Ishaq Khalid in Nigeria says the pre-wedding pictures of the bride caused controversy on social media, with some calling her clothing "immoral" because her shoulders were exposed, while others defended her.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original post on Facebook
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    While there are some reports that 100 private jets flew in for the occasion, an airport official told the BBC there were actually fewer than 50.

    Nevertheless, the festivities were scaled down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of the guests wore face masks, with Nigeria currently struggling to contain an upsurge in cases.

    President Muhammadu Buhari and his son YusufIMAGE SOURCEFEMI ADESINA
    image captionBefore the wedding, President Muhammadu Buhari took a salute from his son

    There was heavy security at the wedding ceremony, with police and military officers guarding the palace and stationed at nearby strategic locations.

    Palace of Bichi
    image captionA huge marquee was erected at the Emir of Bichi's palace for the weekend of festivities
    The Emir of Bichi and President BuhariIMAGE SOURCEBUHARI SALLAU
    image captionIn-laws: The Emir of Bichi (left) and President Buhari
    Crowds waving at President BuhariIMAGE SOURCEFEMI ADESINA
    image captionSome people travelled long distances to welcome President Buhari to Bichi

    The wedding itself was conducted by Communications Minister Isa Ali Pantami, a qualified imam.

    Top politicians and traditional rulers from across the country flew in, including several opposition figures. Among them were President Muhammadu Buhari's predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, whom he defeated in the 2015 election.

    The Gambia's First Lady Fatoumata Bah Barrow and the former president of neighbouring Niger, Muhammadu Issoufu, were among the foreign guests.

    Yusuf Buhari and Zahra Bayero wedding fotos: President Muhammadu Buhari son fatiha fotosIMAGE SOURCEAISHA BUHARI
    image captionAisha Buhari (centre right) welcomed her Gambian counterpart Fatoumata Bah Barrow (centre left)
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  • 7 Ways Anger Is Ruining Your Health

    Sometimes anger can be good for you, if it's addressed quickly and expressed in a healthy way. In fact, anger may help some people think more rationally. However, unhealthy episodes of anger — when you hold it in for long periods of time, turn it inward, or explode in rage — can wreak havoc on your body. If you're prone to losing your temper, here are seven important reasons to stay calm.

    1. An angry outburst puts your heart at great risk. 

    Most physically damaging is anger's effect on your cardiac health. “In the two hours after an angry outburst, the chance of having a heart attack doubles,” says Chris Aiken, MD, an instructor in clinical psychiatry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and director of the Mood Treatment Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    “Repressed anger — where you express it indirectly or go to great lengths to control it, is associated with heart disease,” says Dr. Aiken. In fact, one study found that people with anger proneness as a personality trait were at twice the risk of coronary disease than their less angry peers.

    To protect your ticker, identify and address your feelings before you lose control. “Constructive anger — the kind where you speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner — is not associated with heart disease,” and is actually a very normal, healthy emotion, says Aiken.

    2. Anger ups your stroke risk. 

    If you’re prone to lashing out, beware. One study found there was a three times higher risk of having a stroke from a blood clot to the brain or bleeding within the brain during the two hours after an angry outburst. For people with an aneurysm in one of the brain’s arteries, there was a six times higher risk of rupturing this aneurysm following an angry outburst.

    Some good news: You can learn to control those angry explosions. “To move into positive coping, you need to first identify what your triggers, and then figure out how to change your response,” says Mary Fristad, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Ohio State University. Instead of losing your temper, “Do some deep breathing. Use assertive communication skills. You might even need to change your environment by getting up and walking away,” says Dr. Fristad.

    3. It weakens your immune system. 

    If you're mad all the time, you just might find yourself feeling sick more often. In one study, Harvard University scientists found that in healthy people, simply recalling an angry experience from their past caused a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, the cells’ first line of defense against infection.

    RELATED: 4 Ways to Let Go of Anger

    If you're someone who's habitually angry, protect your immune system by turning to a few effective coping strategies. “Assertive communication, effective problem solving, using humor, or restructuring your thoughts to get away from that black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking ...... those are all good ways to cope,” says Fristad. “But you've got to start by calming down.”

    4. Anger problems can make your anxiety worse. If you’re a worrier, it’s important to note that anxiety and anger can go hand-in-hand. In a 2012 study published in the journal Cognitive Behavior Therapy, researchers found that anger can exacerbate symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition characterized by an excessive and uncontrollable worry that interferes with a person’s daily life. Not only were higher levels of anger found in people with GAD, but hostility — along with internalized, unexpressed anger in particular — contributed greatly to the severity of GAD symptoms.

    5. Anger is also linked to depression. Numerous studies have linked depression with aggression and angry outbursts, especially in men. “In depression, passive anger — where you ruminate about it but never take action — is common,” says Aiken. His No. 1 piece of advice for someone struggling with depression mixed with anger is to get busy and stop thinking so much.

    “Any activity which fully absorbs you is a good cure for anger, such as golf, needlepoint, biking,” he says. “These tend to fill our minds completely and pull our focus toward the present moment, and there's just no room left for anger to stir when you've got that going.”

    6. Hostility can hurt your lungs. Not a smoker? You still could be hurting your lungs if you're a perpetually angry, hostile person. A group of Harvard University scientists studied 670 men over eight years using a hostility scale scoring method to measure anger levels and assessed any changes in the men's lung function. The men with the highest hostility ratings had significantly worse lung capacity, which increased their risk of respiratory problems. The researchers theorized that an uptick in stress hormones, which are associated with feelings of anger, creates inflammation in the airways.

    7. Anger can shorten your life. Is it really true that happy people live longer? “Stress is very tightly linked to general health. If you're stressed and angry, you'll shorten your lifespan,” says Fristad. A University of Michigan study done over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger have a shorter life span than those who readily say when they're mad.

     

    If you're not someone who's comfortable showing negative emotions, then work with a therapist or practice on your own to be more expressive. “Learning to express anger in an appropriate way is actually a healthy use of anger,” says Fristad. “If someone infringes on your rights, you need to tell them. Directly tell people what you're mad about, and what you need,” she says.

     

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  • They always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is.

    A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.

     

     

    Saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to the desires that drain you.

    They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. I don’t think anything could be closer to the truth, and yet all too often we find ways of complicating things for ourselves. We look for happiness where it does not exist – in shallow goals and desires – in possessions, quick thrills, and impressing the wrong people via social media

    There are many other sources of true happiness as well. But as I’ve said, there are also lots of common traps – goals and desires that we think will bring us happiness, but actually do the exact opposite. Recognizing these traps is the key. In fact, I believe one of the best feelings comes when you realize that you can be perfectly happy without the things you once thought you needed.

    With this in mind, consider the ten goals and desires (traps) below and how they may be holding you back. Each of them is popular in our culture, and thus common in our lives, but rather than contributing to our happiness, they rob us of it.

    So say it out loud with me:

    “To be happier, I do NOT need…”

    1. To please everyone – Be careful not to give so much of yourself to others that you end up completely losing yourself. When you go around pleasing everyone but yourself, you are the one that gets hurt in the end. The late and great Herbert Bayard Swope said it like this: “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” That is spot on advice if you ask me. Because truthfully, you are never going to please everyone anyway. At some point you will hold an unpopular opinion – one that gives you meaning and makes you feel alive. And when you do, you ought to hold on tight, tune out the noise, and make it count.
    2. Everything to be easy – You have to do hard things to be happy in life. The things no one else is doing. The things that frighten you. The things others can’t do for you. The things that make you question how much longer you can hold on and push forward. Because those are the things that define you. Those are the things that make the difference between existing and living – between knowing the path and walking the path – between a life of mediocrity and a life filled with happiness and success.
    3. Certainty and guarantees – Some people build too many walls in their lives and not enough bridges. It sounds crazy, but they would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy. Don’t be one of them. Open yourself up. Take chances. Run free. To accomplish amazing things, you must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe. Be a dreamer, a believer, and a courageous and cheerful thinker. Be a positive motivator, a productive doer, and a go-getter who keeps her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground. Let the spirit of passion and possibility ignite a fire within you to do something worthwhile today and every day, and don’t forget to spread your enthusiasm to those around you.
    4. To be better than others – The size of our universe shrinks dramatically when we place ourselves at the center – when we think everyone is our competition – when we think we have to be richer, smarter, and more attractive than the person sitting next to us. Such a goal just keeps a person alienated and tirelessly running in place. Now, on the flip-side, take someone who doesn’t keep score, who’s not looking to be richer, or smarter, or more attractive, who has not the slightest interest even in being better than anyone else: she’s free. Bottom line: Compete with yourself only.
    5. More control over everything and everyone – Sometimes we put too much interest into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives. Learn to relax and ride the path that life takes you sometimes. Incredible change will happen in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you do not. Freeing yourself from trying to control the insignificant and uncontrollable things lets you experience more of the goodness around you. In fact, the greatest joys are often the unexpected surprises that arrive when you are flexible and open to life’s twists and turns.
    6. Immense moments of glory – Graduations, wedding days, lavish vacations – these times are often fun-filled and deeply celebrated, but these times pass, because time passes. This is something we rarely grasp at first. True, lasting happiness is found in the appreciation of all the small things. For me, there are random moments – coming home from work, Working on my animation, standing at the kitchen window and looking out at the sun rising or when it is raining, hearing a giggle from my son's playing in the other room – when I feel a wavelike rush of joy. This is my true happiness: arbitrary moments of sudden, throbbing appreciation for a life I feel privileged to lead.
    7. Other people to constantly validate me – Relationships are essential, but happiness originates from within. It is not exclusively dependent on external validation or on other people. You become vulnerable and can be easily hurt when your feelings of security and happiness depend entirely on the behavior and actions of others. Keep this in mind. Never give all your power to anyone else. Until you make complete peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have or who you’re with. Learn to love and respect yourself first, before loving the idea of other people loving and respecting you.
    8. Perfect harmony in all relationships at all times – Harmony in relationships is nice when it’s sincere, but too often we try to fake it. Effective communication is king. You have to talk it out sometimes. After all, the only way to be happy in life is to live with integrity. This means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Being clear and asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create occasional tension. Behaving in ways that are in agreement with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not just what others believe.
    9. A superior time and place – The reason many people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be. The key, of course, is to do the opposite. Appreciate your past without reliving it, handle your present with confidence, and face your future without fear. Life is simply too short to spend at war with yourself. Letting go of the past and future is your first step to happiness and peace in the present. Realize that you are today where your thoughts and actions have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts and actions today take you. Bottom line: You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to live is to press play, and dance.
    10. Happiness 24/7 – Absolutely no one is happy all of the time. Because you simply can’t be happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes. This is a harsh truth, I know. Just keep in mind that it’s perfectly normal to experience considerable fluctuations in your level of happiness from day to day, month to month, and even year to year. Believing and expecting otherwise will only lead to disillusionment. But even when life is less than blissful, you are still in charge of how you respond. Choose positivity, always. The greatest act of faith some days is to simply get up and face the day, with a smile.

     

     

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  • Depression and anxiety during lockdown. I get it too.

    There was a three-fold increase in the number of people reporting significant depression and anxiety problems during lockdown.

    If isolation, anxiety, economic uncertainty, and the daily onslaught of bad news generated by the coronavirus pandemic are taking a heavy toll on your mood, you’re not alone.  The stress of social isolation, the worry about jobs, money, and health, and the profound feelings of loss that many of us are experiencing at the moment can trigger depression for the first time or exacerbate symptoms if you’ve already been diagnosed. When you’re suffering from depression, life can seem overwhelmingly bleak and hopeless. It can interfere with your ability to think straight, drain your energy, and make it difficult to get through the day.  This is a distressing, uncertain time. Even as some places start to open up again after months of lockdown, the end may still seem a long way off. You may have lost your job, be struggling financially, and worried about if and when the economy will pick up. You could be grieving the loss of loved ones or the life you knew before the pandemic, or feeling frustrated and cut off by continued social distancing. Living in the age of coronavirus can have a profound effect on your mood.

    Isolation and loneliness fuels depression. Human beings are social creatures. Being cut off from the love, support, and close contact of family and friends can trigger depression or make existing symptoms worse. Months of social distancing and sheltering at home can leave you feeling isolated and lonely, having to face your problems alone.

    A troubled relationship may be even worse than loneliness. While strong and supportive relationships are crucial for your mental wellbeing, being forced to spend months quarantined in a troubled, unhappy, or abusive relationship can be even more damaging to your mood than being alone.

    Anxiety can lead to depression. All the fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 means it’s natural to worry. When your worries spiral out of control, though, they can cause panic and anxiety. Since anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, one can often lead to the other.

    Stress levels are soaring. Experiencing a major change in your life, such the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, being diagnosed with a serious illness, or financial or relationship difficulties, can bring overwhelming levels of stress. As a result of this pandemic, you may be experiencing several of these major stressors at once, making you more vulnerable to depression.

    We’re turning to unhealthy ways of coping. The boredom, loneliness and stress of being in lockdown, struggling financially, or having to juggle a job and home school your kids, can prompt unhealthy ways of coping. Maybe you’re drinking too much, abusing drugs, or overeating junk food in an attempt to self-medicate your mood and deal with stress. While these methods may provide a brief respite, in the long-run they’ll make your depression symptoms much worse. Instead, you can use the following healthy strategies to boost your mood and ease your depression.

    Change your focus

    There’s no easy fix for recovering from depression, and finding the energy and motivation to take the first step can be tough. But you have more control over your mood than you may realize.

    It’s true that these are painful and worrying times, and few people have much to be cheerful about at the moment. But at the same time, depression can make things seem even worse than they really are. When you’re depressed, everything is filtered through a lens of negativity. By simply recognizing that, you can start to change your focus and take the first step to feeling more optimistic.

    Distract yourself. When you’re depressed, out of work, and isolated from your social network, the negative thoughts running over and over in your head can seem never ending. But you can break the cycle by focusing on something that adds meaning and purpose to your life. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, like a new language or a musical instrument? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to write a novel, take up cooking, or grow your own vegetables? Focusing on a project or goal, even a small one, can give you a welcome break from negative thoughts and worries—and add a sense of meaning to your days.

    Find simple sources of joy. While you can’t force yourself to have fun, you can push yourself to do things that will boost your mood throughout day. Try listening to uplifting music (even getting up and dancing around if you can) or finding a reason to laugh by watching funny videos on YouTube or episodes of your favorite sitcom. Spending time in nature—whether it’s walking in the park, paddling on the beach, or going for a hike—can ease stress and put a smile on your face, even if you’re alone. Or try playing with your kids or a pet—they’ll benefit as much as you will.

    Limit your consumption of news. Yes, you want to stay informed, but overconsuming sensationalistic news or unreliable social media coverage will only fuel your negativity and fear. Limit how often you check news or social media and confine yourself to reputable sources.

    Maintain a routine. Sleeping too much or too little, skipping meals or exercise, and neglecting your personal care only feeds into your depression. Establishing and maintaining a daily routine, on the other hand, adds structure to your day, even if you’re alone and out of work. Try to include set times for exercising, spending time outside, and communicating with friends each day.

    Express gratitude. When you’re depressed, especially at this awful time, it can seem that everything in life is bleak and hopeless. But even in the darkest days, it’s usually possible to find one thing you can be grateful about—the beauty of a sunset or a phone call from a friend, for example. It sounds cheesy but acknowledging your gratitude can provide a respite from negative thinking and really boost your mood. For a meditation to help you develop this habit, click here.

    Find new ways to engage with others

    Meeting friends and family in person is still difficult for many of us at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to feeling isolated and alone. While nothing beats the mood-boosting power of face-to-face contact, chatting over a video link, on the phone, or via text can still help you feel more connected. Reach out to close friends and family, take this opportunity to look up old friends, or schedule online get-togethers with groups of people. Even if your depression symptoms make you want to retreat into your shell, it’s vital you regularly stay in contact with people.

    How to really CONNECT with others

    Whether you’re talking with a friend or loved one at a social distance, via video, or on the phone, it’s important to strive for more than just a surface connection. The deeper the connection you establish, the more you’ll both benefit.

    Move beyond small talk. To really establish a connection that will ease your loneliness and depression, you need to take a risk and open up. Sticking to small talk and limiting yourself to a surface connection with others can actually make you feel even lonelier.

    Share about yourself. Open up about what you’re going through, the feelings you’re experiencing. It won’t make you a burden to the other person. Rather, your friend or loved one will most likely be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only deepen the bond between you.

    Nothing needs to get “fixed”. Depression relief comes from making a connection and being heard by someone. The person you talk to doesn’t need to come up with solutions, they just listen to you without judging or criticizing. And the same is true when you’re listening to them.

    Adopt healthy daily habits

    Your daily habits can play a big role in helping you to overcome depression. During this health crisis, it’s tempting to slip into bad habits, especially if you’re stuck at home and not able to work. You may sleep irregular hours, overeat to relieve the stress and boredom, or drink too much to fill the lonely evenings. But by adopting a healthier daily routine, you can bolster your mood, feel more energized, and relieve symptoms of depression.

    Get moving. Exercising is one of the last things you feel like doing when you’re depressed—but it’s also one of the most effective ways of boosting your mood. In fact, regular exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant medication in relieving depression. Even if you’re still under lockdown or a stay-at-home order, there are creative ways to fit movement into your daily routine.

    Practice relaxation techniques. Incorporating a relaxation technique such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or a breathing exercise into your daily schedule can provide a welcome break from the cycle of negative thinking, as well as relieve tension and anxiety.

    Eat a mood-boosting diet. In times of stress, we of often turn to “comfort foods” packed with unhealthy fats, sugar, and refined carbs. But these foods, along with too much caffeine and alcohol, can adversely impact your mood. Instead, focus on fresh, wholesome foods whenever possible and increase your intake of mood-enhancing nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.

    Sleep well. Just as depression can impact your quality of sleep, poor sleep can also contribute to depression. When you’re well rested, it’s easier to maintain your emotional balance and have more energy and focus to tackle your other depression symptoms. Changing your daytime habits and bedtime routines can help improve how well you sleep at night.

    Use reminders to keep yourself on track. When you’re depressed, it’s easy to forget the small steps that can help to lift your mood and improve your outlook. Keep reminders of the tips that work for you on your phone or on sticky notes around your home.

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  • Changes You Can Make for 2021 while in Lockdown

    Changes You Can Make for 2021 while in Lockdown

    “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
    —Hans Hofmann

     

    Have incredible stories to tell by the end of 2021, not incredible clutter stuffed in your closets.  I sincerely wish this for my family, and yours, in the year ahead.

    So, let me start off here by asking you…

     

    • Does your home serve you—or do you serve your home?
    • Will your home afford you the necessary space to create happy, healthy memories and stories in the year ahead?

       

      These are not questions most of us ask ourselves, but we should.  After all, our homes are meant to serve a distinct purpose in our lives—to be both the space we come back to, and the space we go out from each day.  Our homes are, in essence, the foundation of our daily lives. And this has been especially true over the past year, as we’ve lived through COVID-19.

      As we enter the New Year, it’s a great time to check in with yourself…

      If your home is serving you well, it is a safe harbor from the storms of life—a space to relax, rest, and connect in meaningful ways with loved ones and friends.  And it’s a secure port of departure when you’re ready to brave the choppy seas of life again.  A home serves you best when it provides both of these benefits.

      A home doesn’t serve you when it complicates your life and takes more than it gives.  When possessing your home (and maintaining the possessions within it) becomes your focus, you end up spending your limited and valuable resources (time, energy, money) taking care of it.  That’s when you know you’re serving your home.  You’re spending less time living the life you want, because you’re spending more time cleaning, maintaining, and repairing—and perhaps also paying a hefty mortgage or rent for the privilege.

      The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way.  It’s possible to live more by owning less.  It’s a purpose-based guide to a simpler, decluttered, refocused life—one that makes sure your home is serving you, and not the other way around.  It recognizes that each of us can love the house—the home or flat—we live in.

      Here are 18 changes to help create a home that better serves you while in lockdown:

      1. Get your head straight about what matters, and what in your home is distracting you from what matters.  For most of us, our excessive physical possessions are not making us happy.  Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do.  Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.  And sometimes, minimizing physical possessions means an old dream must die.  But this is not always a bad thing.  Because sometimes, it takes (mentally and emotionally) giving up the person we wanted to be in order to fully appreciate the person we can actually become.
      2. Remove decorations that no longer inspire you. Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.  Your life has moved on—maybe it’s time for the decoration to do the same.  Remove the pictures that no longer inspire you.  Or the decoration you bought that one time because it was on clearance.  Keeping just the items that mean the most to you will help them to shine.
      3. Reject the convenience fallacy.  There are certain places in our homes we tend to leave items out for convenience—a stack of favorite DVDs in the corner, appliances on the counters in the kitchen, toiletries beside the bathroom sink.  By leaving these things out, we think we’re saving time and simplifying our lives.  That’s the convenience fallacy.  Sure, we might save a couple of seconds, but the other 99.9 percent of the time, those items just sit there creating a visual distraction.  If you’re not using your convenience items at least 50 percent of the time they’re out, keep them in a cabinet or drawer and out of sight.
      4. Distinguish between simplifying (or minimizing) and tidying up.  Just because a room is tidy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s uncluttered or serves its purpose.  Well-organized clutter is still clutter.  Never organize what you don’t even use and can easily donate to someone who will.
      5. Count the “clutter cost.”  It can be hard to get rid of things you spent a lot of money on.  But keeping things you no longer wear, use, or love also has a cost—every object carries a burden as well as a benefit.  The burden or “clutter cost” is the money, time, energy, and space an object demands of you.  If you’re having trouble letting go of a pricey item you don’t use—or any item for that matter—remember to consider the benefit-to-burden ratio before you decide to keep it.
      6. Free up closet space.  One of the biggest complaints people have about their homes is that the closets are too small.  If you’ve been thinking that you need bigger closets, maybe all you need to do is right-size your wardrobe—and your closet will feel bigger overnight.
      7. Donate clothes you don’t love.  After decluttering your closet, you’ll find more space and peace each morning when you get ready, rather than facing stress and indecision.  Plus, donating unused clothing to a local charity is a simple but meaningful way to help others.
      8. Declutter duplicates. I call this a minimizing accelerator because it’s one of the easiest things you can do to make quick progress.  Open your closet, for example.  How many extra pillows, sheets, and towels do you really need?  Other good candidates for eliminating duplicates include cleaning supplies, gardening tools, fashion accessories, home office supplies, toys, books, and kitchen items.  Keep your favorite in each category—the ones you actually use—and get rid of the rest.
      9. Clear your dining room table.  Is your dining room table a depository for mail, backpacks, keys, and other things that are in the process of going from one place to another?  If so, chances are that using it for a meal may seem like more work than it’s worth.  Put the items away where they belong.  Make your tabletop a clean, open and inviting space.
      10. Invite the right people to gather at your dining room table, often.  These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways.  They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be.  The bottom line is that your decluttering efforts have given you more space to share stories, experiences, hugs and laughs with family, good friends, and close neighbors.  Don’t forget to make it count.
      11. Practice gratitude, in your home, daily. At least once a day, it’s good to pause in your pursuit of a simpler and more organized life, look around, and simply appreciate the life you’re presently living.  “Look around, and be thankful right now.  For your health, your family, your friends, and your home.  Nothing lasts forever.”
      12. Take down signs that don’t sincerely vibe with your present values. I know a woman with a sign in her house  that says, “It’s tough living in the fast lane when you’re married to a speed bump.”  I get the humor, but I wonder how reading that sign every day might affect her approach to her marriage, even in small ways.  If you’re going to put words up on your walls, don’t you want them to inspire you and call you higher instead?
      13. Calm a space for reading and being at peace. Even if you aren’t up for decluttering an entire room, you can “calm” a space.  You calm a space when you minimize distractions.  Choose a favorite chair and declutter everything around it.  Remove anything from the floor that isn’t furniture.  Clear the surface of side tables  by removing or storing remotes, pet toys, kid toys, hobby items, old newspapers/magazines, mail, books, etc.
      14. Clean out your entertainment center. These large pieces of furniture often harbor lots of small items we no longer need.  Take out old electronic components, cords you don’t need, and dvds games cds nobody uses.  Get rid of them by recycling responsibly, arrange the devices you do use in an eye-pleasing display, and hide their cords as much as possible.
      15. Tackle a junk drawer.  Most of us have one.  It’s the default resting place for small items that have no better place to be.  Or for things we think might have some use but we can no longer remember what it is.  Chances are good you can toss out most of what’s in there and never miss it.
      16. Set physical boundaries for your kids. Give your kids a certain amount of space and allow them to manage it how they want.   When things begin to overflow, we ask them to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.  The same principle applies to a bedroom or a toy basket.
      17. Let go of mental clutter too.   Life is just too darn short.  Do your best to let go of all the purposeless drama, aimless time-wasters and mental clutter that keeps getting in your way.  Again, it’s time to focus more on what matters in the year ahead, and let go of what does NOT.
      18. Be less “busy” and more purposeful in 2021. HAPPY NEW YEAR
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