Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

I’m a big fan of happiness and human nature writer and researcher Gretchen Rubin and I have read several of her books and many of her blog posts. The first book of hers that I read was called Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits. There are many interesting and helpful philosophies outlined in this book and I highly recommend reading it, but today I’m going to explore just one of these ideas: the concept of abstinence versus moderation.

I’m glad that I re-read the chapter about this concept in Gretchen Rubin’s book, as I had some misconceptions about it, including my thinking that the way it manifests is more absolute and constant than it actually is. In today’s post, I will summarize the chapter and share how the issue of abstinence versus moderation has played out in my life, as well as the ways in which I continue to be challenged by it.

moderation vs. abstinence

Do you agree with this sentiment or do you think it’s best to avoid certain things? 

Abstainers vs. Moderators

Moderation is based on the idea that if we deny ourselves something altogether, it will result in binging or falling farther “off the wagon” in the future. However, in many instances, it can be easier to resist certain temptations by never giving in to them in the first place. Sometimes when we deprive ourselves completely of something such that it’s not even an option for us to entertain, we end up feeling less deprived. Another potential benefit of this type of self-denial is that mental energy is conserved because there are no decisions to make regarding whether or not to indulge. Therefore, self-control doesn’t need to be mustered on a regular and ongoing basis.

What Gretchen Rubin discovered in her research is that some people are Abstainers and others are Moderators. Abstainers fare better when they implement all-or-nothing habits in their lives and Moderators do better when they indulge themselves moderately. For Abstainers, having something makes them want it more. Conversely, for Moderators, having something makes them want it less.

Continue reading

We’re closing in on the halfway mark for 2018 and it seems like the year is speeding by. I’ve written a few times about my theme for the year, “essential,” including my most recent post recapping my essential wardrobe challenge. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I really need and want in my life, as well as what brings me joy. I’ve come to understand that I’m more easily overwhelmed than a lot of other people I know. I used to berate myself for this fact, but I have moved more to a place of self-compassion and a willingness to honor my own needs. We all have different personalities and constitutions and that’s as it should be. When we increase our awareness of who we are and work with our personality traits instead of against them, we often fare better in life.

The tagline for this blog is “striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment… in a chaotic world.” I added that last part because I often feel highly stressed out by the fast pace and “always connected” state of being that’s so common in today’s society. This way of life doesn’t work well for me and I’ve become far happier since I’ve learned to accept this fact and live my life accordingly. However, I’m still struggling with the concept of moderation, especially when it comes to technology and connection.

connection and overwhelm

Does connecting online ever feel like this to you?

Continue reading

At the beginning of April, I took on a wardrobe challenge to help me better understand what an “essential wardrobe” is for me and how I can reach that desired goal. My April 6th post outlines the specifics of the challenge, which I completed this week, but here’s a brief synopsis:

  • My challenge was a modified version of the “30 for 30 Remix,” originally created by Kendi Skeen of the blog Kendi Everyday.
  • I set out to create two 30-piece capsules, one for my “out and about” wardrobe and one for my at-home wardrobe. However, instead of selecting my capsule pieces before starting the challenge, I built the capsules organically as I went along.
  • As I wore closet pieces, I added them to the appropriate lists and continued on until I reached roughly 30 items in each capsule. I also cordoned off two distinct sections in my closet to contain my two “30 for 30” capsules.
  • The challenge continued until I wore 30 “out and about” outfits. I originally thought I would just do 20 outfits because I only wear such ensembles three or four days a week, but I ultimately decided to honor the spirit of the challenge and continue on until I reached thirty.
  • During the course of the challenge, I tracked how often I wore the items in both of my capsules, as well as captured notes about my outfits and how I felt wearing them (sort of like the “outfit journal” I kept for three years).

On Wednesday, I wore my 30th “out and about” outfit, so it took me roughly a month and a half to finish the challenge. While that may seem like a long time, I know it would have been at least a week or two longer had I not taken a ten-day trip to Lake Tahoe, during which I wore “out and about” outfits every day but one. In today’s post, I’ll share information about my wardrobe capsules, some wear statistics, and what I learned from taking on the challenge.

The Capsules

Here’s a snapshot of my two wardrobe capsules hanging up in my closet. The “out and about” capsule is on the left and the at-home capsule starts with the light green t-shirt to the right of the pants. Coats, jackets, and sleepwear items are not shown in this picture, but many of those pieces are included in the other images below.

30 for 30 capsules

Continue reading

In my last post, I wrote about the three different types of forgiveness – exoneration, forbearance, and release – and the situations to which they apply. Today, I’m going to expand further upon the topic of forgiveness with some tips and strategies for how to best forgive those who have wronged us. These suggestions will primarily apply to the third – and often the most challenging – type of forgiveness, release. Release is the lowest form of forgiveness and generally relates to situations in which the offender has never acknowledged wrongdoing or apologized for their behavior.

“I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who was not sorry.” ~ Unknown

Most of the concepts and tips mentioned in this post were derived from a podcast from The Savvy Psychologist, titled “5 Ways to Forgive People (Even Those Who Don’t Apologize),” as well as an article from Greater Good Magazine, titled “What is Forgiveness?” Other helpful resources on the topic of forgiveness are included at the end of this post and some relevant quotes (from this article) are peppered throughout as well.

Why Forgive?

One of the reasons it can be so difficult to forgive is that it feels like forgiving means excusing the wrongdoing or forgetting it ever happened. However, if we hang on to old hurts for a long period of time, it can result in tremendous suffering that only serves to compound the initial injury we experienced. While the pain of being hurt by others is an inevitable part of life, the suffering caused by holding a grudge and ruminating on past offenses is optional.

how to forgive

Continue reading

After a few posts on body image, wardrobe management, and transitioning to gray hair, it’s time to switch gears and pivot back to the realm of personal relationships. In the next two posts, I’m going to cover a difficult topic when it comes to relating to others: forgiveness. I wrote about that subject a few times on my first blog (this one is number five!), The Healing Project, back in 2010. If you’d like to read those essays, they are archived HERE.

In today’s post, I highlight what forgiveness is and why we should endeavor to do it. I also summarize the three different types of forgiveness and the situations to which they apply. This information comes from an excellent video from Prager University, featuring psychiatrist Steven Marmer. I’ve also heard Dr. Marmer interviewed on this topic and found his ideas on forgiveness both interesting and helpful. While you can certainly watch the video on your own and learn the information, I hope my summary will enable you to better internalize the concepts. I have watched the video probably ten times at this point, but writing this blog post deepened my comprehension of the material considerably. My next post will offer guidance on how to more easily forgive those who have wronged you.

three types of forgiveness

What is Forgiveness?

Psychologists define forgiveness as a deliberate decision to release feelings of anger, resentment, or vengeance toward someone who has hurt you. In contrast, “unforgiveness” is marked by a mix of bitterness, hostility, anger, and fear. Holding a grudge or aiming for revenge can sap our ability to find peace and happiness, but finding a way to forgive without giving up our principles is no easy task. However, if we can find a way to do so, we will reap many benefits. Studies have found that those who score higher on measures of forgiveness are less depressed, sleep better, use less medicine, have more energy, and enjoy improved cardiovascular health and better life satisfaction.

Continue reading

It’s been well over a year since I last gave an update on my gray hair transition process. Although I was on a blogging hiatus for ten months during that time frame, I wasn’t in a hurry to address this topic once I started up this new blog. In truth, I have been dreading writing this post. No, I haven’t gone back to coloring my hair every four weeks like before, but I have made many mistakes along the way. At first, I wasn’t going to write about this at all and I even considered deleting my previous gray hair transition posts. However, I ultimately decided to write this difficult update in the hope that I might potentially save even one woman from going through what I have.

do's and don'ts for gray hair transition

I have done more don’ts that do’s during my gray hair transition…

I’m publishing this post on the two-year anniversary of the last time I colored my roots. I should be done or almost done with the transition process by this time (hair grows an average of half an inch per month), but I’m not. The reason I’m not done transitioning stems from my not being in the right headspace to take on this journey in the first place. I wasn’t ready to fully embrace the process because I was afraid of looking bad and receiving strange looks or negative comments from others. Ironically, those fears only served to make things worse for me, as you will soon learn. The type of deep-seated insecurities I wrote about back in 2014 led to a series of missteps that have made the going gray process harder and significantly set back my progress.

In today’s post, I give a recap of the steps I have taken during my lengthy gray hair transition process. I also share some not-so-flattering photos of my hair at various points in the journey. Warning – this is a very long post that I considered breaking into two parts, but I think it works better as a single long essay. If you’re not interested in the topic of gray hair transition, feel free to skip this one, as I will be back next week with a different topic.

Continue reading

Last month, I wrote about my ongoing challenge with negative body image and shared some helpful tips on this subject from my online friends. Since I received so much helpful advice for improving a poor body concept and didn’t want the post to get too long, I decided to break it into two installments.

negative body image

Do you sometimes hate what you see when you look in the mirror?

Today’s post is part two and I hope you will find it beneficial. I also highly recommend that you read the comments section of the original post, as a number of readers offered their own words of wisdom on this important topic. I love how much I learn from all of the wonderful women I know through this blog and my other online communities. As I continue to work on healing my body image, I plan to refer back to these two posts from time to time, and I’m glad to have compiled this advice for others to use in their personal growth journey.

Continue reading

After two consecutive posts about communication and relationships, I’m going to switch gears today, but I’ll definitely come back to that topic again soon. In one of my first essays on this blog, I shared my theme for the year, “essential,” and how I plan to ask myself a lot of hard questions this year about what truly adds value to my life and thus deserves a place in my home, experience, and psyche. I subsequently explored the role of information in my life and detailed the steps I’ve taken as a sort of “digital detox” with the technology I use. I’ve also shifted the way I plan my days in order to maximize efficacy over efficiency.

As we move into the second quarter of 2018, I already feel that my theme of “essential” has made a profound difference toward increasing my sense of calm and improving my quality of life. My stress level has decreased as I consume less information, eliminate “digital clutter” on my devices, and include fewer items to my to-do list. Now it’s time to turn back to a subject that I wrote about for four years on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic – my wardrobe.

essential wardrobe

Continue reading

I’ve been thinking a lot about the topics I explored in my last essay, as well as the wonderful comments made by readers in response to what I wrote. For that reason, I would like to continue the subject of emotional isolation in today’s post. I’m glad I decided to open this can of worms because it’s a major factor in my journey toward a more fulfilling, peaceful, and happy life. Some of my relationships feel so broken, with dysfunctional patterns of interacting that are so ingrained, that I’m not sure how to fix them or even if they can be transformed in a meaningful way. But since writing about other seemingly intractable life issues has given me possibility and a way through in the past, I hope that deepening this exploration will make a difference for me and others with similar struggles.

After I expand upon what I view as a key problem in my – and perhaps your – interpersonal relationships, I delve into the five levels of intimacy identified by psychologists and how they manifest in our communication. I then share sage advice from readers on how we can start to break out of our negative ruts. While I certainly don’t have all the answers, I take comfort and hope from those who have walked a similar path and come out on the other side. Included is a helpful exercise we can all use to shift our focus and change our experience with the people in our lives.

transforming broken relationships

Is there a gulf like this in some of your relationships?

Continue reading

We all want to feel connected to others. It doesn’t matter whether we are extroverts or introverts; connection is one of the six human needs that we all share. I have written previously on the topic of loneliness, but my primary focus then was on spending too much time alone and feeling physically isolated from others. Today’s post is about a different type of isolation: emotional isolation, which is feeling alone even in the presence of others. I’m sure most of us have felt this way from time to time, and I believe this type of isolation is a big problem in today’s society.

How Often Do We Truly Communicate?

So many of us yearn for emotional closeness, yet it eludes us, even in this age of extreme connectivity, smart phones, and social media. I feel that emotional isolation largely stems from poor communication. We’re in touch with people all the time, but how often do we truly communicate? How often do we open up and let others know who we really are inside?

emotional isolation

When we’re not keeping in touch by way of social media likes and short comment bursts, many of us engage in superficial relationships in which we only talk about macro topics like the weather, what we’re watching on television, and what’s in the news. I’m not implying that these subjects are insignificant, but discussing them rarely deepens our connections. We’re often “pleasant” with each other but don’t really know the person on the other end of our conversations. We stay safe in what we talk about, and we keep people at arm’s length because we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. We’re afraid of being hurt should we opt to share our innermost thoughts, feelings, hopes, and fears, and this keeps us separate from others.

Continue reading