2014: MORE THIS, LESS THAT?
365 new days ahead, 4 ways to enjoy them more?
1. MORE GREEN. LESS WHITE.
If you only give up one thing for 2014, you might want to make it sugar. (Yes, boring, been said a million times before, but most of us don’t consume enough green veg).
Once a luxury in days gone by, processed sugar then became a staple, then a food for the poor. Now it’s the cheapest poison going. It creates a breeding ground for diseases and there are studies that say it’s more addictive than coke (the white stuff, not the drink).
Want to give it up? Read Breaking The Sugar Habit: 4 Simple Strategies on Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean Programme blog.
“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
– Dr. Richard J. Johnson, nephrologist, University of Colorado, Denver
5 years ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a selection of healthier sugar alternatives in Britain, but with agave, stevia, lucuma and a host of other options making their way onto even the big name supermarket shelves, if you want to say “goodbye sugar” and mean it, you can.
Green superfoods and supergreen supplements can be your best allies during your NO SUGAR (or at least less sugar?) campaign because as you nourish and rebalance your system with highly nutritious foods the cravings will fade. Still ‘need’ some chocolate in your life? Switch to dark: 6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate).
2. MORE TIME. LESS STUFF.
Feeling mentally cluttered and burdened by semi-useless stuff at home or in the office? Is your inbox spouting emails like volcanic lava?
Time to Tame the Email Dragon. Try:
– Checking your email just 2-3 times a day (unless there’s a real reason you must be on email all the time).
– Stop playing email ping pong. An email comes in, you reply… another floats in, you reply…before you know it you’ve played ping pong email the whole morning. Allocate defined, limited chunks of time to deal with emails, and action every email that comes in during that time window: reply, forward, delete, delegate… An inbox packed with unread emails looks and feels “heavy” so be brutal and unsubscribe to those newsletters you thought you needed to read once a day/week/month. A lot of them (most of them?) you can live without. Distracting, non-vital emails are like hyenas, they might be entertaining or interesting but they’ll savage the hours in your day and eat into your “you time” like there’s no tomorrow.
– Warning: multi-tasking can be dangerous to your health. Focus on one thing, do it, then move on to the next. Women are brilliant multi-taskers but we pay a price for our juggling skills.
In the mood for a life declutter? Read Leo Babauta’s Simplify post on his brilliant Zenhabits.net
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right”
– Nelson Mandela
3. MORE “NO”, LESS “YES”?
…or more “yes” to the things/people/projects/ideas you want in your life, more “no” to the ones you want out of your life?
Anytime is a good time to ditch the things and people that drain you and the best time to do something about something that is now. “No” is a small word with big possibilities and saying it more often will help untangle you from the things that bind you.
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus
4. MORE “IT’LL BE GRAND”. LESS MOANING ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE.
One of the most eye-opening experiences for me this year was my month living with a Berber family in a big village near the Sahara, Morocco. Beige was the only colour there, so it seemed. Big bare mountains, no trees, and you could almost “smell” the sands of the Sahara 3 hours away. The only green in a landscape of “dry barren beige” were the date palms in the palmeraie, the only blue was the daily blue sky. There was no hot water in the house (or rather two rooms with a roof and an outbuilding with no roof) and “showers” were basically scooping cold slightly soapy water out of a bucket with a plastic water bottle cut in half.
After a gruelling day of heat, no bed or mattress either (we slept on mats on the ground, I’m ashamed to say it but the first night I could feel every single small stone under me – worst night’s sleep of my life, with no anti-mosquito supplies in the still, dry 32C hot night air at 11pm). As I lay with a wet scarf over my neck dreaming of ice hotels in Sweden, one shooting star streaked across the sky after another in a dazzling late night show.
During the day, every task seemed to involve bending over or bending down, using the sun or hiding from it. Wrapping water bottles, yoghurts and fruit in wet fabric to cool them down (no electricity), leaving buckets of water outside from 11am to 4pm (to warm up water). Four weeks of bending down all the time (washing clothes in buckets, peeling potatoes on the floor, squatting over a hole in the ground, aka the toilet, shared with seven others).
No bed, no electricity, no hot water, no choice. Hovering by the 50 different types of cheese on display in your local supermarket, deciding which to buy? How very European. You’d be lucky to find a slice of Edam here. The only cheese you could find some days was Le Vache Qui Rit (those processed triangles) while 3-4 types of fish arrived just once a week – on Thursdays, from far away Agadir, at the weekly souk.
I don’t eat chicken or meat, so in a small town of two chemists, many cafes and butchers, a few French ex-pats and not one Brit (I was it), my choices diminished while my gratitude escalated for the little things, like discovering all the fresh fruit and veg I wasn’t expecting, or finding a cafe with Wi-Fi that worked. The things I took for granted turned into big things I was grateful for.
While I was there, with this lovely family who lived on practically nothing, owned practically nothing, who breakfasted on bread every morning (10p for a round loaf, the only type of bread at the only bakery in town) and wore the same pair of shoes until they fell apart, I remember seeing a Tweet by someone, something along the lines of:
“Having a really bad day, Zara don’t have the shoes I want, in brown. Sooo annoyed!!!!!”
350km from the sea…no fish on Fridays here (just Thursdays!)
“We get up in the morning. We do our best. Nothing else matters.”
– Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)