As we aspire to healthy home spaces that enhance our physical and emotional health, today’s interior designer is more wellness-focused than ever.
There’s one space, however, that deserves more creative energy and intention than any other for designing a happy life: the space between our ears. An attitude and mindset of peacefulness, positivity, hope, thankfulness and contentment empowers you to design happy living lives and homes for yourselves, your family and others.
One of the most powerful ways to cultivate an attitude that forms the foundation of a happy life is through rituals. In this sense, rituals are intentional practices that uplift you spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
Let’s look at 10 ideas for design-happy-living rituals to power a happy life and home.
In Part 1, we’ll explore: Meditation/Prayer, Journaling, Teatime, Gardening and Giving Gifts.
- Nurture your spirit. Meditation – whether sitting or walking a labyrinth, prayer, inspirational reading of scripture, poetry or essays is a way to center yourself spiritually and mentally, gaining strength, focus, calm and purpose.
This spiritual and mental centering is especially helpful if done early in your day, often resulting in greater fruitfulness as the day progresses, facilitating a less chaotic, more efficient flow to your tasks, encounters and experiences.
While first thing in the morning is beneficial, meditation can be done anytime and anywhere, says Minneapolis based award-winning luxury designer Lisa Peck of LiLu Interiors.
“Meditation is by far the best thing I do on a daily basis that helps me be creative and allows me to be a better designer,” she says. “I start my day with meditation and will take a small break in the day to keep the creativity flowing.”
In the mornings, Lisa sits on a cushion in a private space to do mindfulness meditation, simply paying attention to her breathing and giving her mind a break for 10-30 minutes.
“In the middle of the day, I might stop for 5 minutes and do a breathing exercise as a meditation, breathing in for a count of four. Hold in for a count of four. Breathe out for a count of four and hold out for a count of four. This helps with focus and creativity.
You can meditate just sitting at your desk!”
If you’re new to meditation, Lisa recommends a meditation app like Insight Timer or Calm, noting that apps have guided meditations on many topics.
- Keep a Sketchbook or Journal. A journal is a place where you can pour out your heart, fears and struggles with complete honesty. There’s something about writing down your feelings that unburdens your emotions and takes a weight off.
Journals are also a place to record your joys and triumphs, giving you courage and hope to face present challenges. You may want to keep a “thankfulness journal,” recording at least one thing each day for which you’re grateful, cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving that helps create a foundation for a happy life.
On the flip side, keeping a sketchbook can be a mechanism for confronting and overcoming anxiety, believes my very close friend, Montebello, NY based Gloria Batista Collins, a self-taught creative who cultivates a daily practice of sketching in her journal.
“The key to happy living for me is to recognize my triggers that lead to anxiety and then jot down these negative feelings quickly in a journal/sketchbook, helping me to understand my anxiety when it strikes,” she says.
When her anxiety trigger of a “nervous and tight stomach” strikes, Gloria turns to what for her is a transformative ritual: “I slow down long enough to diligently write down my anxiety, creating within me time to ‘stop’ and physically slow myself down. I close my eyes for a few seconds, which causes me to take a restorative deep breath.
Then, I write down in my journal three sentences: First, the trigger of my feeling; second, the behavior from that trigger; and third, the result from that trigger. These are not long entries, but just enough for me to slow down and become mindful about how I’m feeling so that when these triggers come up again, I can understand why they affect me as they do.
Seeing it on paper helps me to see the results of my anxiety. When I see the results and how these anxieties hinder me, it pushes me to release the anxiety, perhaps because my dreams and goals are so much more vital for me to accomplish.”
” I believe that daily art lifts the spirit and sketching in my journal has become a key to transforming my anxiety into something positive and uplifting to others. ”
Gloria sent me the *note to self* sketch you see below which sits beside me as I type this.
- Take a Tea Break. Tea is a therapeutic, romantic comfort beverage with profuse health benefits. Green and black tea have strong antioxidant effects, boosting heart health, lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, improving gut health, reducing blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Green tea is a source of polyphenols, antioxidants that reduce inflammation and boost autoimmune response. According to research, drinking green tea regularly can benefit people with arthritis and autoimmune disease.
- Grow a garden. Seeds, soil and sun, along with digging, planting, watering, clipping and harvesting, combine to enhance Vitamin D levels, build strength, promote better sleep, boost your mood and calm you after stressful events. Research finds that gardening improves your mood, increases your self-esteem and causes anxiety levels to drop.
Gardening and plants have been found to be an effective rehabilitation tool for those recovering from addiction. “Even putting your hands in the soil creates a rise in serotonin,” says Jake Kennedy, a graduate student at Cornell University studying International Agriculture and Life Science.
If your space is limited, you can still enjoy the benefits of plants and gardening with a balcony or patio garden or even a window box or assortment of house plants.
- Give a gift to someone. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This ancient wisdom attests that generosity leads to joy.
The family-run Friendship Plant Co. in High Point, N.C. bases its entire business model on giving. With the motto #giveafriendaplant, the succulent shop has a mission to “build a community of generosity.”
Growing and selling succulent plants off the back of their refurbished truck at the High Point Farmer’s Market with their 3 children in tow, the young couple has learned that “the gift of a plant has the potential to spark joy,” says Heather Blackerby, owner, along with husband, Evan.
“A plant keeps on giving as they grow and propagate and multiply and can be passed on to others. We hope to awaken kindness and generosity in others, who can in turn encourage someone with the gift of a plant.”
Their motto of #giveafriendaplant is a motto I grew up with. My mother was gifted a bowl of cacti and succulents over 50 years ago by a friend of hers she played bridge with every week. For many years after, every time one of my mother’s friends would move into a new home, my Mom would take cuttings and gift them with a bowl of small cuttings for their new home.
When I moved into my home, my Mother did the same for me. Today, I grow succulents and cacti on my own balcony [the one below is mine] thanks to all of those tiny cuttings my Mother gave to me years ago.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, Part 1 of 10 Rituals for Designing A Happy Life. I’d love to know if you incorporate any of these 5 rituals into your own lives.
Please let me know in the comments!
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