Participating in a Gratitude Study

A month ago, I signed up to be a participant in a psychology student’s senior thesis project about gratitude. I was very excited as I had been doing a good job keeping up with a gratitude journal I had begun over winter break.

I thought that being a part of the study would provide me further motivation to jot down my thoughts on a daily basis. So, I emailed the student researcher to express my interest to participate in the study. I waited in anticipation, and in two days I received her response:

If you are receiving this email, you have expressed interest in participating in my senior thesis study, and you have been randomly assigned to the post-test survey participant group. This means that you are not being asked to keep a gratitude journal, but your participation in the post-test survey is still very important.

I read the email through twice to verify that I had not misunderstood. I frowned over my computer, scratched my head, and smiled to myself at the irony. What I had hoped to be a motivation to journal had become a barrier.

It wasn’t what I had expected, but I was willing to respect the research process and the power of random selection, so I shelved my journal away.

It has now been a month. I received the email with the post-test survey last night, and as an excellent research participant I submitted my response right away. And then I returned my gratitude journal to its original home on my bedside table.

I am grateful for this experience. It is a good reminder to not be too hasty to sign up for gratitude studies, and that ideally I am mindful so that I can experience gratitude in the present moment. The journal just offers another avenue to develop that practice.


Questions to Help You Declutter: Make Your Own List

When you are first learning about minimalism you are bound to come across lists of questions to help you declutter. These lists may include questions such as “Have I used this in the past year?” “Will I use it often?” “Is this item a duplicate?” I struggle to use these lists effectively. The purpose of these lists is to help you determine what to keep (translation: what adds value to your life). The challenge is that what to keep (adds value) is different for everyone. Pre-made lists to help you declutter aren’t helpful, or at least haven’t reached their full potential, because these lists don’t reflect your individual values and approach to minimalism. Luckily it is not hard to create such a list.

For this reason, I believe it is worth your time to develop a list of questions that relate to your own brand of minimalism. In this article I will show you how I developed my own list of questions to help me declutter. This is a fun, creative process, and I highly encourage you to make it your own. This list is for you, no one else ever has to see it, and at its core it is really about what inspires you.


The Attraction of Minimalist Photography and Staged Rooms

Last night when I got home, my dad shared with me a book he picked up from the library called The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection by Louisa Thomsen Brits. My first impression was that this was my kind of book. It seemed like a light read, so I read the introduction and flipped through the photos before I went to bed.

Doing this, I finally realized what I find so attractive about minimalist spaces and associated photography. The photos in this book highlighted the way we engage with objects. Tables, chairs, and books become the table, the chair, and the book. We use these objects each day, but in minimalist photos these objects have a greater presence. There are no distractions. Without clutter, these objects have space to breathe, and this gives the viewer permission to do so as well.


My Summer Collage

This summer at the Stanford Inn I had the opportunity of doing an Imagination Playshop with Joan Stanford. Joan’s approach is not dependent on having artistic ability. Through her workshop my understanding of the purpose of creating art was expanded. I have come to see how it has the potential to explore and organize scattered ideas and provide unique personal insights. In this blog post I am sharing more specifics of my personal playshop and some of the art I have created since.