Breaking up with Ikea storage solutions (it’s not you, it’s me)

‘Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’
Walter Morris

Last month we looked at the nuts and bolts of happiness and explored a short list of those things that science has demonstrated truly make us happy and enhance our sense of well-being. This month it’s all about stripping back the excess.

Amazingly enough, nowhere in the lists from last month were the latest in consumer gadgets, fashion trends and loads of cheap plastic STUFF. Yes, we do need some stuff (enough to fulfil our basic physiological needs), but what we don’t need is a closet of unworn clothes, miles of electric cabling to power our various gadgets and mountains of paperwork clutter.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all your stuff?

Here’s the thing…

In subtle and sneaky ways, having too much stuff really can damage your chances at happiness as your stuff starts to become the master and you the slave.

Think about it…

First of all, you either need the money to buy the STUFF in the first place or you do what most of us do nowadays and put it on credit. All of a sudden you have to work more simply to be able to bring that STUFF into your house in the first place.

Next, you have to clean and tidy the STUFF, find it a home, trip over it, repair it if it breaks and worst of all; worry about what other people may think about your STUFF. (By the way, not having all matching glassware and the latest in designer heels does not make you a bad person. Just FYI…)

Finally, there comes a point when you have to get rid of the STUFF, preferably without pouring finite resources down the drain.

Now I don’t know about you, but that’s a whole lot more mental energy than I am prepared to spend on inanimate objects that despite my best efforts, will never love me back.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in your house, then it is time to reclaim your time, energy and resources and put stuff back in its rightful place.

Top Tips for the Beginner Declutterer

• Despite the temporary high that it brings to rejoice in a decluttered home, decluttering just for the sake of it is unlikely to bring the long term benefits that you are dreaming of. It’s vital to identify your motivation (do you want greater happiness and peace of mind, more free time, less debt, less housework?) and keep this in the forefront of your mind. This will prevent you replacing the old stuff with, well, more stuff.

• Be environmentally and socially conscious. Decluttering is not an excuse to fill the rubbish bin just to get stuff out of the house. Be a little creative with finding homes for your unwanted goods. Charity shops will welcome clothes in good condition, discarded paperwork makes great biodegradable weed matting and your local women’s refuge may be in desperate need of clean toys.

• Start small and build momentum. Identify just one area of your home to tackle, savour the victory and then move on to the next.

• Enlist the help of your family. This is not always easy so check out my post on the Complexity of Simplicity for some ideas to get people on board.

• Commit to reducing the volume of stuff coming into your home. Reduce paper clutter (and your ecological footprint) by switching to online bills, adopt a 2 for 1 policy (for every 1 new item in to the house, 2 must go) and most of all, stop shopping for entertainment!

Awesome Blogs to Inspire You on Your Decluttering Journey
There are some absolutely awesome blogs out there that will help to inspire you on your decluttering journey. These are some of my absolute must reads!

Slow Your Home – Brooke’s blog is inspiring and reassuring in equal measure. It has step by step instructions for those beginning a declutter and an annual challenge to help you on your journey!

The Minimalist Mom – Rachel’s family have drastically reduced their debt and moved overseas. She has some great practical advice that is suitable for everyone.

Becoming Minimalist – I’ve only recently discovered this one and although the minimalist concept seems a little scary at first, I’ve fallen in love with Joshua’s piercing observations and laid back approach. Becoming Minimalist offers both practical tips and logical reasoning.


P.S – No, buying another Ikea ‘smart storage solution’ is NOT the answer to your STUFF problems. Chances are that you already have enough space and storage.

P.P.S – I’m really excited about next month as we start to look at reconnecting with ourselves and the art of mindful living. Make sure you check back here in early March!

P.P.P.S – You don’t really have to break up with your Ikea storage solutions. If you find them useful, by all means keep them. Just don’t believe that they hold the answer to your STUFF problems!


The Nuts & Bolts of Happiness

Happy: Expressing pleasure, contentment or gladness (Macquarie 3rd Edition)

Welcome to the first post in the 12 Months to a Happiness Rebellion series!

From the outset, let’s be clear that your happiness will be unique to you and may look entirely different to everyone else’s. That is totally ok! You are unique so it only makes sense that your version of happy will be unique as well. This series is merely a set of tools to help you enjoy your own version of happy in 2014!

So, let’s get started!

Macquarie’s definition of happy is a great starting point to consider  happiness, however for our purposes it’s time to dig a little deeper. True happiness goes beyond the expression of pleasure and is closely correlated to our overall sense of health and wellbeing, along with the realisation of capabilities for human flourishing.

Numerous studies from around the world demonstrate that once a base level of survival has been achieved, happiness and self-perceived well-being do not rise in correlation to income. This rapidly disperses the myth of ‘oh I’d be happy if I earned more’!

Drawing on the early work of Amartya Sen, American scholar Martha Nussmaun identified the below as essential for human well-being.

  1. Life (being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length)
  2. Bodily health and bodily integrity (to be secure against violent assault)
  3. Having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and choice in matters of reproduction
  4. Practical reason (being able to form a conception of the good life)
  5. Affiliation (being able to live with and toward others)
  6. Play, and control over one’s environment.

In the developed world, many of us are fortunate enough to have 1-3 fairly well covered with only the occasional hiccup, so let’s look in more detail at points 4-6 and how they may relate to you. Ask yourself the following;

  • What does my version of the ‘good life’ look like?
  • Do I feel deeply connected to others? Am I part of a community?
  • Does my environment feel out of control? Am I overcommitted and surrounded by clutter?

Think long and hard about the answers to these questions. In order to embark on a journey towards greater happiness and well-being, we must first acknowledge where we are starting from!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be happy with the answers to one or two of these questions and the others will provoke some soul searching. This is a perfect position to start from and a great place to finish up for this month.

Next month we will take start to strip away the excess and begin the great declutter to help us regain control over our environment. There will be some handy hints for the beginner and some great links to fantastic blogs for those that are further into their decluttering journey.

Five Easy Resolutions We Can All Make for 2014

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I love the time between Christmas and New Year. For one thing, there are generally tasty leftovers in the fridge, but more importantly I find it a useful prompt to reflect on the year just passed and identify the important bits for the year ahead.

In previous years, I’ve made all sorts of resolutions, most of which have fallen by the wayside. However, 2013 has been a challenging year for us, during which I have learnt an amazing amount and been inspired by some wonderful people. Over the course of the year, I’ve learnt that by focusing on the below, I can live a happier, simpler and more eco-friendly life.

1.       Move more

Such a simple change to implement, yet it yields such great results. In 2014 try leaving the car at home and walking or cycling, turn off ‘Play School’ and perform your own rendition of the ‘Hokey Pokey’ (complete with all actions) and use yoga rather than TV for relaxation. Your physical and mental health and the environment will thank you!

2.       Be kind

Commit to just one random act of kindness every single day. It may be as simple as baking some extra cookies to share with a neighbour, offering to make your colleague a coffee or even just making the time to call your Mum. Imagine how wonderful the world could be if we all committed to doing kind things for others.

3.       Get involved

Get involved in whatever way you can. Do you have time to join Rotary or another service club? If so, brilliant, go ahead! Too busy for that level of involvement? Why not sponsor a child, sign online petitions or volunteer to help the Salvos during the Red Shield Appeal? The key to personal fulfilment lies in participation in civic life. Don’t believe me? Give it a try and see how you feel!

4.       Buy less

Be honest, do you really NEED a new handbag? So many of us shop out of habit or boredom and end up trapped by debt and possessions. The next time that you are tempted to shop for material goods, spend just 30 seconds considering the environmental and social conditions in which that amazingly cheap handbag was produced. Chances are that the real costs of your shopping habit are higher than you think.

If you love a challenge, why not take a lesson from The Fearse Family  and attempt a ‘Buy Nothing New Year’? Or, if you’re not quite up for that level of commitment just yet, ‘Buy Nothing New’ month is in October and is a really fun challenge!

5.       Be grateful

Learning to be grateful even under adversity is a skill that will change your entire mindset and make both you and your family much happier. The best part is the more that you practice exercising gratitude, the easier it becomes! Make gratitude a part of your daily ritual by reflecting on the things that you are grateful for over dinner each night.

So there you have it, the five small actions that have made a fundamental change to my life this year.  The Happy Rebel will have heaps of posts to inspire you in all of these areas throughout 2014 so stay tuned…

Happy New Year!!


Coming up in 2014

2014 is almost upon us and I am so excited to be able to share it with you! It will be a big year for The Happy Rebel and a big year for our family with a cross country move planned and our second baby due in April.

The Happy Rebel will be becoming slightly more structured throughout 2014, with a couple of really exciting series planned. Check out the sneak peeks below…

12 Months to a Happiness Rebellion

The 12 Months to a Happiness Rebellion series will be published on the first Wednesday of every calendar month and will feature tips, tricks and challenges to help you to reclaim and sustain your happiness throughout the year.

Baby Steps to a Greener World

Baby Steps to a Greener World is your beginners guide for taking simple steps to reduce your environmental impact and adopt a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. Baby Steps to a Greener World will be published on the second Wednesday of every calendar month and will have some great tips and tricks!

The Lost Art of Self Sufficiency

Do you rely on a mechanic to check the oil in your car, a tailor to take up your jeans and the bakery for special treats? If so, The Lost Art of Self Sufficiency series is for you!

The Lost Art of Self Sufficiency will be published on the third Wednesday of every calendar month and is the essential guide to basic self-sufficiency. Easy step by step guides on everything from automotive maintenance to baking cookies will help you recover skills that are fast being forgotten.

Make Your Own

The Make Your Own series will be published on the fourth Wednesday of every calendar month and will feature stacks of fun and easy home projects that will help save you money and amaze others with your ingenuity. Learn how to build your own raised garden bed from recycled materials, entertain your toddlers with easy home-made play dough and even create your own Advent Calendars. If you are completely non creative like me, you will love these easy step by step guides!

Meat Free Monday

I’m on a mission to reduce my meat consumption and improve my repertoire of vegetarian recipes and I’d love to share this journey with you! Every Monday, a delicious new vegetarian recipe will be posted after being thoroughly tried and tested by our meat loving household. If you regularly cook vegan or vegetarian meals, please feel free to point me in the direction of winning recipes…

So, as you can see, we have a really exciting year ahead with heaps of great strategies to make 2014 your greenest, happiest year ever.  Make sure that you add The Happy Rebel to your favourites and join us on Facebook to ensure that you don’t miss a moment!

Have a great 2014…