Category Archives: Mental Health & Wellness

Fresh Habits

The secret to improving the quality of your life is simple, inexpensive, and highly effective. It can improve your health, your home, and your social standing.

Go to pretty much any grocery store – it doesn’t have to be high end, Walmart and Target grocery departments are fine. Get yourself a bag of lemons. They are about $1/pound. REAL lemons, not plastic ones.  Now look for a potted herb. It really doesn’t matter what kind. They should be under $10. I recommend Rosemary and Thyme because they are practically indestructible. Basil is great too but requires daily watering (this is not a bad thing as I will elaborate on momentarily).

When you get home the lemons DO NOT hide in your refrigerator and do NOT hide in a cabinet. Your lemons will be prominently displayed in some form of attractive vessel in full view of your living quarters. First let’s clarify what qualifies as an attractive vessel – this is anything that is nice to look at and won’t be damaged by holding some fresh lemons. It could be a clear glass bowl. It could be a plain white or black bowl. Metal is a good choice, as is wood. I advise against plastic. Personally, I keep about 6 lemons in a silver bowl on the bar in my living room. These lemons perform several functions:

  1. They look nice. They are a beautiful bright but natural color with an interesting texture and glossy finish.
  2. They smell nice. It’s subtle but natural and you’ll become accustomed to the aroma. Proponents of aromatherapy claim that exposure to natural lemon scent reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and has respiratory benefits. If you’re an aromatherapy skeptic, you can’t deny that lemons smell better than a lot of things in your home, and a subtle natural smell is far superior to a lab-generated artificial smell.
  3. They are preservative free and you can consume them. If you ever need lemon juice for a recipe or cocktail, why use it from a container when you can get it straight from the fruit? Look on the label of any lemon juice container and you’ll see in addition to the juice there will be a chemical preservative. Do yourself a favor and reduce your consumption of preservatives whenever you can. Sacrifice one of your lemons – that’s what it’s there for.

Lemons are easy. Herbs take a little more work, but they provide even more benefits. Just like the lemons, they a) look nice, b) smell nice and may have aromatherapeutic benefits, and c) are preservative-free and edible. If they are in your home, you can easily add them to whatever you are eating – whether it is home-made or not. Pick some herb leaves and put them on your food – the herbs will train your taste buds to prefer fresh authentic foods over highly processed foods. Put fresh herbs on your frozen pizza. Put fresh herbs on a microwaved lean cuisine. Not only do they taste good, fresh herbs have antioxidant properties that can help you look and feel healthier.

In addition to the same 3 benefits of having fresh lemons, they offer a 4th benefit because they are a low-effort responsibility that builds a good habit. Since the herbs are potted, they need to be watered. Regularly. By YOU. Rosemary and Thyme can be watered as little as once a week. Basil needs it daily. I recommend watering all the herbs daily for a few reasons: First, it’s easier to remember to do something EVERY DAY instead of trying to remember to do something and what day it’s supposed to be done. I assume you brush your teeth every morning. Attach your plant-watering to your teeth-brushing. Water your plants right before brushing your teeth or right after brushing. This builds a habit so you do it automatically without thinking about it. Ok, so now I get to explain how having the responsibility of keeping plants alive is beneficial to you. There’s a practical answer, and a metaphysical answer. I’ll start with the practical.

The practical benefit is it makes you look like a responsible adult. It signals to anyone who comes over (or sees in a Zoom conference) that you can AT LEAST KEEP PLANTS ALIVE. You have the capacity for consistent follow-through to allow a life form in your charge to survive. That’s a good subconscious signal to any employer, colleague, or potential romantic interest.

The metaphysical answer will sound a little fruity, so I’m asking you to bear with me. The second benefit is something called “mindfulness”. It’s in the same category as meditation and probably yoga. Volumes of research allege the measurable benefits of regular meditation. Russell Simmons and Joe Rogan won’t shut up about how much they benefit from regular meditation. I’m promoting a short-cut. Instead of a 20-minute sensory-deprivation experience, just spend 10-seconds per plant giving it water every morning. While you water your plant, notice how wet or dry the soil is, how green or yellow the leaves are, how firm or limp the stems are. These 10 seconds dedicated to caring for and observing your plant is called “mindfulness” – you are focusing on only one thing and suppressing all peripheral sub-routines in your mind. It’s like microdosing your meditation.  Maybe you’ll be more receptive to try full-on meditation, but even if you never do, microdosing your meditation still provides benefits of mental well-being.

Whether you use them or not, the lemons will need to be replaced within 2 weeks. They lose their function when they start drying out. If the herbs die, there’s no shame in replacing them and trying again. Maybe try a different variety. The point is to practice these simple, inexpensive habits to make subtle but significant improvements in your life. You’ll be a better man from it.  

Man Cave

 

Tux

Never say “Man Cave”. To me or to anyone. And don’t ever ask me to design one. I will design a gentleman’s lounge, a bachelor pad, a study. But I refuse to design a room for a grown man to act juvenile. It’s embarrassing and frankly, unmanly. If you need a place to “escape”, that room should inspire you to venture uncharted territory – professionally and personally. It should help make you a better man. It is a man’s retreat, not a romper room. How does a tacky lamp or beer-can sculpture strengthen your conviction or improve your swagger?

Your surroundings should make you smarter, stronger, braver, and more manly, not regress into kitsch and childishness. Certainly have fun with the place, but be clever, not tacky. There is strength in subtlety.

Think of James Bond in a bespoke tuxedo. His gold cufflinks are microphones. His Cartier Pen a covert weapon. To the uninitiated, he appears a successful, worldly man. But the double agency of his jewels and tools empower him. As your room should empower you. Whether the room starts as raw space or just plain, it must be appropriately attired. Pants/Shirt/Jacket: Flooring/Wall Finishes/Ceiling. Be generous with the finishes. Consider how the walls meet the floor, like tucking the shirt into your pants. Consider a baseboard: material, color, scale affect the attitude of the room. All elements must harmonize. As you apply finishes to the room, you are dressing it.  The room is forming successfully when it commands your attention, even unfurnished.

Let’s get some furniture in there. What you put in the room are your covert instruments.  Furnish the room with intention. Your primary purpose for the room is what you should indulge the most on. If it’s a study, invest in an incredible desk. This is where you may stretch your budget. If the room itself and primary furniture is high caliber, you can be thrifty on other, less visible elements.

The effort you put into the space will be empowering. Be serious. Be clever. Be playful. Be the best of you. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll feel better about who you are, and who you are becoming. You are not a man child. This is not a man cave.

Live Like You Give a Fuck

veronese

Imagine if everything in your home was selected by you intentionally. Imagine if everything you live with inspired and motivated you. If you woke every morning to an environment that filled you with pride and satisfaction. Yes, I’m talking about your furniture. Go ahead and roll your eyes, then try this: Think about something you care about. Maybe it’s the stock market, a sports team, music, motorcycles. Whatever it is, I bet you know its history, its details, what differentiates it from others. Now imagine applying this attention to the contents of your home. You wouldn’t put any half-assed stock into your portfolio. Why settle for any old chair? Or desk? Or bed? You might not think it makes any difference, but I’m telling you it does.

You are a product of your environment. If you live among random things of limited value to you, it affects you. You care a little less about things. If you live among items with purpose, substance, history, and a personal connection to you, you’ll find you pay more attention to details in other parts of your life. Details matter. It’s what separates high achievers from the general population.

Maybe you think you can’t afford to live like that. Not so, my brother. It needn’t cost a lot to live with intention and integrity. Yes, it’s more expensive than salvaging discarded furniture from the curb, or taking hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. It may be fun to recount the “score” of free furniture, but is that how you want to live long term? Live with integrity and intention. Of course a large budget will get you originals, but many original designs are licensed and reproduced to be more affordable. What’s important is to know what you’re buying and why. Who designed that piece? Why? When? What about it resonates with you? Its simplicity? Its elaborate embellishments? What is it made of? How was it made? Where was it made? This information adds to the furniture’s significance to you.

With a little effort and an Internet connection, you can begin to learn about different periods of design.  If you have more money than time, you can pay me to curate suggestions for you. Let me start you on your journey of enlightenment. Go to the Website https://www.1stdibs.com/shop/styles/  all major styles are listed here. Click on each style to see a well curated selection, and see what you love or hate. Take notes. Compare the styles you like and what they have in common. You may never buy these exact items, but you can learn from them. When looking at a similar item from a national retailer, you may recognize the original inspiration and how well (or not) its execution stays true to its roots. Rule of thumb: the closer it looks to the original, the better.

The exercise of pondering furniture will inspire you to think about what attributes you appreciate and why. Such introspection leads to a more productive mindset that carries over to other aspects of your life. Have a point of view and express it where you reside. Good craftsmanship and well executed design will rub off on your mindset. Simpleminded people drift through life oblivious to their surroundings. And “surroundings” includes furniture. Think about what motivates you, look around at what surrounds you, care about it – the same way you care about your finances or whatever else you commit your free time to – and take control of it. Give a fuck about your furniture. You’ll be a better man for it.