Sunday, August 19, 2018


What does it take to be a super-ager?

Research suggests that moving out of your comfort zone is the key to staying mentally and physically young.

Finding role models who are older than we are gets more difficult as we age. But in the last few years, medical science has identified a new group we can aspire to join — the super-agers. The term refers to people in their 70s and 80s who have the mental or physical capability of their decades-younger counterparts.

What makes a cognitive super-ager?
Dr. Bradford Dickerson, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues have been studying super-agers for several years. Their results suggest that embracing new mental challenges may be the key to preserving both brain tissue and brain function.

In one study, 81 healthy adults — 40 of whom were 60 to 80 years old and 41 of whom were 18 to 35 — were read a list of 16 nouns six times. Twenty minutes later, they were asked to recall as many of the words as possible. While 23 of the older participants recalled nine or fewer words, a score considered average for their age group, 17 seniors — the super-agers — could remember 14 words or more, a score similar to that of the younger participants.

The participants also underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging, which provides images of the brain at work. The researchers found that some areas of the brain appeared thinner — an indication of cell loss — in the older people who had normal test scores, but not in those who scored as well as younger participants. 

These particular brain regions are involved in many functions, including emotion, language, and stress. They are also responsible for regulating internal organs and coordinating sensory input into a cohesive experience. The thicker these regions of brain are, the better a person's performance on tests of memory and attention, such as the word memorization test.

Although super-agers' brains show less cell loss than those of their contemporaries, their IQs and educational levels are similar. What sets them apart might be that they view problem-solving differently, Dr. Dickerson says. "They may approach these tasks as a challenge they can succeed at, in contrast to typical older adults who may give up."

One of Dr. Dickerson's colleagues, Dr. Lisa Barrett, speculates that super-agers may share a willingness to endure discomfort to master a new skill, like playing a musical instrument or speaking a new language. Super-agers keep moving out of their comfort zones to gain new areas of expertise.

What makes a physical super-ager?

Like cognitive super-agers, physical super-agers have scores that rival those of women decades younger, especially on measures of aerobic capacity — the amount of oxygen you can take in and distribute to your tissues in a minute, expressed as maximal oxygen consumption, or VO2 max. On average, people lose 10% of their aerobic capacity every decade after age 30. "Some studies have indicated that people in their 80s who exercised at high intensity for 20 to 45 minutes a day have an aerobic capacity of people 30 years younger," says Dr. J. Andrew Taylor, director of the Cardio-vascular Research Laboratory at -Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabili-tation Network.

Measuring VO2 max requires a person to run on a treadmill in a medical facility while hooked up to monitoring equipment. Because treadmill tests are expensive, they usually aren't given to people who don't have symptoms of cardiovascular disease. A few years ago, Norwegian researchers came up with an algorithm to estimate VO2 max based on a person's answers to a few questions about his or her health and exercise habits. The researchers tested their method by asking 5,000 people to fill out the questionnaire and then take a treadmill test. When the researchers compared the VO2 max scores derived from the questionnaires to those from the treadmill tests, they found that the results obtained from the questionnaires closely approximated the treadmill results for about 60% of people. The questionnaire tended to under-estimate VO2 max somewhat in the fittest volunteers and to overestimate it in the least fit.

Since the questionnaire was developed, several groups of researchers have used it to see how VO2 max relates to health outcomes. In general, they have found that as VO2 max increases, the risks of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and death fall. The Norwegian researchers have used the data from their studies to create a calculator to estimate a person's biological age; you can find it online at

In 2015, 4,200 participants in the 14th National Senior Games used the Norwegian calculator to estimate their biological ages. Although the average chronological age of the participants was 68, their average biological age was 43.

What can you do to become a super-ager?

Scientists are still studying this question. What they do know is that although any regular physical and mental activity reduces health risks, intense physical activity increases aerobic capacity, and intense mental activity preserves areas of the brain involved in memory and reasoning. Following the suggestions below may not ensure that you'll become a super-ager, but it will put you on the road to better health.

Embrace mental challenges. If you enjoy crossword puzzles, you may want to take on acrostics or mathematical games. Try doing something yourself that you would have hired someone else to do in the past — perhaps calculating your income taxes, assembling a piece of flat-packed furniture, or installing new computer software. Volunteer for a project that may seem little intimidating, like tutoring students who are trying to master English as a second language or registering voters for the next election. Pursue a leisure activity you didn't have time for earlier in life, be it joining a theater group, writing poetry, learning the language of your favorite translated book so you can read the original, becoming proficient on your favorite musical instrument, or creating intricate origami sculptures.

Increase your exercise capacity. How much of your VO2 max you preserve depends on three factors — the intensity, duration, and frequency of your workouts. Exercise intensity increases as you come closer to achieving your maximum heart rate, which you can calculate by subtracting your age from 220. If you're just beginning to exercise, try to get your pulse up to a rate of 50% of maximum. If you've been exercising a while, work up to 60%, then try sustaining 70% of your maximum rate. (At that rate, you won't be able to talk easily as you work out.) Try to exercise at that level for 20 to 40 minutes, three to five days a week.

Prepare to be frustrated. Patience and perseverance are key to mastering challenges. It may take months or years of practice to gain proficiency in a new field, but the benefits can be great. For example, the photo-editing software on your computer may seem impenetrable at first glance, but once you've learned to use all the menus and tools it offers, you'll be able to produce professional-quality images from photos captured on your smartphone. Although you may tire after walking a few blocks, if you gradually increase the time you walk and the distance you cover, you may be walking a mile within months.

Don't let your age deter you. As long as you are physically up to a challenge, your years shouldn't hold you back. Mary Robertson "Grandma" Moses didn't start painting in earnest until she was 78. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg began working with a personal trainer at 68 following treatment for colon cancer. Today, at age 84, she still completes a regular workout most of us shouldn't try without medical permission.

Get going with a group. You may find it easier to take on new challenges if you're in the company of other beginners. Check your local community center or "Y" for programs that welcome seniors. You may be surprised by what you can accomplish in a few months.

Meet Ann McGowan, super-ager
She started running at age 49 to cope with the death of her husband. She got back on the track within months of a mastectomy to race in the 1991 National Senior Games, a competition for women and men age 50 or older who have qualified at regional events. She's run the 100-yard, 200-yard, and 400-yard dashes, and has competed in long jump, discus, hammer-throw, and javelin events. At 92, Ann McGowan is one of only eight athletes who have participated in every one of the National Senior Games since their inception in 1987.

Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study

Microplastics found in 93% of bottled water tested in global study.

Researchers examined 11 different brands of water purchased in 9 countries.

David Common, Eric Szeto · CBC News · Posted: Mar 14, 2018 6:00 PM ET | Last Updated: April 7.

Microplastics are the result of the breakdown of all the plastic waste that makes its way into landfills and oceans. The purpose of the study was to establish the presence of the plastics in bottled water. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

The bottled water industry is estimated to be worth nearly $200 billion a year, surpassing sugary sodas as the most popular beverage in many countries. But its perceived image of cleanliness and purity is being challenged by a global investigation that found the water tested is often contaminated with tiny particles of plastic.

"Our love affair with making single-use disposable plastics out of a material that lasts for literally centuries — that's a disconnect, and I think we need to rethink our relationship with that," says Prof. Sherri Mason, a microplastics researcher who carried out the laboratory work at the State University of New York (SUNY).

The research was conducted on behalf of Orb Media, a U.S-based non-profit journalism organization with which CBC News has partnered.

Mason's team tested 259 bottles of water purchased in nine countries (none were bought in Canada). Though many brands are sold internationally, the water source, manufacturing and bottling process for the same brand can differ by country.

The 11 brands tested include the world's dominant players — Nestle Pure Life, Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, San Pellegrino and Gerolsteiner — as well as major national brands across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Researchers found 93 per cent of all bottles tested contained some sort of microplastic, including polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

10.4 particles/litre on average

Microplastics are the result of the breakdown of all the plastic waste that makes its way into landfills and oceans. They are also manufactured intentionally, as microbeads used in skin care products. Microbeads are now being phased out in Canada, after significant numbers began to appear in the Great Lakes and the tiny particles were found filling the stomachs of fish.

Anything smaller than five millimetres in size (5,000 microns) is considered microplastic.

Using the Red Nile test, researchers identified tiny particles believed to be microplastics in many bottles of water. (Orb Media)

Orb found on average there were 10.4 particles of plastic per litre that were 100 microns (0.10 mm) or bigger. This is double the level of microplastics in the tap water tested from more than a dozen countries across five continents, examined in a 2017 study by Orb that looked at similar-sized plastics.

Other, smaller particles were also discovered — 314 of them per litre, on average — which some of the experts consulted about the Orb study believe are plastics but cannot definitively identify.

The amount of particles varied from bottle to bottle: while some contained one, others contained thousands.

The purpose of the study was to establish the presence of the plastics in bottled water.

It's unclear what the effect of microplastics is on human health, and no previous work has established a maximum safe level of consumption. There are no rules or standards for allowable limits of microplastics in bottled water in Canada, the United States and Europe. Rules and standards for other countries from the study are not known.

Two brands — Nestle and Gerolsteiner — confirmed their own testing showed their water contained microplastics, albeit at much lower levels than what Orb Media is reporting.

Emerging science

Plastics are present nearly everywhere and can take hundreds of years to degrade, if at all. Many types only continue to break down into smaller and smaller particles, until they are not visible to the naked eye.

Plastics have also been known to act like a sponge, and can absorb and release chemicals that could be harmful if consumed by mammals and fish.

Microplastics found in supermarket fish, shellfish
"It's not straightforward," said Prof. Max Liboiron of Memorial University in St John's.
"If you've ever had chili or spaghetti and you put it in Tupperware, and you can't scrub the orange colour out, that's a manifestation of how plastics absorb oily chemicals," says Liboiron, director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), which monitors plastic pollution.

The European Food Safety Authority suggests most microplastics will be excreted by the body. But the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has raised concerns about the possibility some particles could be small enough to pass into the bloodstream and organs.

It's not clear how the plastic is getting into the bottled water — whether it's the water source itself or the air or the manufacturing and bottling process.

"Even the simple act of opening the cap could cause plastic to be chipping off the cap," Mason said.

The science behind the test

The water tested was purchased in the U.S., Kenya, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Mexico and Thailand, and represented a range of brands across several continents. It was shipped to the specialized lab at SUNY in Fredonia, N.Y.

Scientists used Nile Red fluorescent tagging, an emerging method for the rapid identification of microplastics, as the dye binds to plastic. Scientists put the dyed water through a filter and then viewed samples under a microscope.

Prof. Sherri Mason carried out the laboratory work at the State University of New York (SUNY), on behalf of Orb Media. (Dave MacIntosh/CBC)

Mason's team was able to identify specific plastics over 100 microns (0.10 mm) in size but not smaller particles. According to experts contacted by CBC News, there is a chance the Nile Red dye is adhering to another unknown substance other than plastic.

Mason leaves open that possibility but leans strongly to the smaller particles being plastic.

The developer of the Nile Red method agrees.

Fluorescing particles that were too small to be analyzed should be called "probable microplastic," said Andrew Mayes, senior lecturer in chemistry at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.

Microbeads listed as 'toxic substance' en route to ban
Orb consulted several toxicologists and microplastics experts throughout the entire process who also reviewed the findings.

"This is pretty substantial," Mayes said. "I've looked in some detail at the finer points of the way the work was done, and I'm satisfied that it has been applied carefully and appropriately, in a way that I would have done it in my lab."

CBC News also asked multiple experts to review Orb's study; while similar questions came up with the Nile Red dye, they were convinced there was some level of microplastics in the water and further research was warranted.

Big brands respond

Nestle said in a response that it had tested six bottles of water from two of its brands — Nestle Pure Life and San Pellegrino — and found between two and 12 microplastics per litre, much lower than what Orb found in its study. The company suggested that Nile Red dye is known to "generate false positives."

Gerolsteiner also said its tests showed a "significantly lower quantity of microplastics per litre" in its products.

"We still cannot understand how the study reached the conclusions it did," the company said. "The research results do not correspond to the internal analyses that we conduct on a regular basis," the company said in a response.

Manitoba rivers feed 400M pieces of microplastic into Lake Winnipeg every year

Danone, the company behind Evian and Indonesian brand Aqua, told Orb it is "not in a position to comment as the testing methodology used is unclear. There is still limited data on the topic, and conclusions differ dramatically from one study to another."

Brazilian brand Minalba told Orb that it abides by all quality and security standards required by Brazilian legislation.

READ International Bottled Water Association's response
The American Beverage Association, which represents many of the biggest brands across North America, including Nestle, Evian, Dasani and Aquafina, told Orb that "the science on microplastics and microfibres is nascent and an emerging field…. We stand by the safety of our bottled water products and we are interested in contributing to serious scientific research that will ... help us all understand the scope, impact and appropriate next steps."

Brands Biserli and Wahaha did not respond to Orb's request for comment.

Plastics, plastics everywhere

Within three decades, there will be more plastics in the oceans than fish. They are having a profound effect on the environment. In the oceans, vast quantities float on the surface, trapping sea life and blocking the sun's rays from entering the waters.

Mason points out people can choose to not buy water in a plastic bottle, and to carry a refillable bottle instead. But for other products, there is no choice. The majority of products on grocery and retail store shelves are contained in plastic.

"It's portable, it's lightweight, it's convenient, it's cheap — that just makes it easy," Mason says. "It's so difficult to get people to care about things they can't see."

The New Retirementality

Retiring on purpose: A Conversation About Making This The Most Meaningful Stage of Your Life Yet.

Retiring with a Purpose.

"I have seen far too many retirees adrift on a sea of aimlessness, boredom, and discontentment. They found their freedom from the old job and the old routines but did not sufficiently contemplate what that freedom could lead them toward.

"There is an entire 

#37 to #44 Tips To Help You Say "Goodbye" to Your Things

#37. Discarding memorabilia is not the same as discarding memories.

#38. Our biggest items trigger chain reactions.

Let us say we  switched from having one smartphone to two. We should realize that we have not just added a single smartphone to our lives. We might get a case for the new smartphone, put a protection sheet of film over it, buy a power charger, covers for the earphone jack, and of course a strap. Before you know it, we have accumulated five new items. Things tend to bring in more things. 

Conversely, we will be able to get rid of a lot of items at once if we  dispose of the initial source. 
If we work up the courage to get rid of our biggest possessions, there is a big payoff. 

#39. Our homes are not museum, they do not need collections.

#40. Be social, be a borrower. 

I was shocked when I read in  Mai Yururi's  There's Nothing  in My House, that she had thrown away her high school yearbook. I could not help thinking that she really must have been true to her nickname, "Weido Obsessed with Throwing Things Away" to be able to throw away something irreplaceable like that school yearbook. But after a while, it occured to me that since most people usually hang on to their yearbooks, Yururi had simply parted with an item that hundreds of her classmates still had -- it was not unique or irreplaceable at all.

The desire to hold on to things can also be seen as a desire to avoid troubling someone else for anything. But all this does is shut you off from the world. If you should suddenly have a desperate urge to see your old school yearbook, all you have to do is contact one of your old friends and ask them to let you see it. Though you might  feel like you're bothering them, in reality they will probably welcome the chance to spend some time together reminiscing. Anyone who gives you the cold shoulder for a nostalgic request like that is not really a friend. As long as you remember to express your feelings of gratitude, you are not going to be a nuisance at all.If anything, your relationships will only deepen.

#41. Rent what can be rented.

#42. Social media can boost your minimizing motivation.

#43.  What if you started from scratch?

#44. Say "see you later" before  you say  goodbye.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Project DeStress World

Project DeStress (name your neighbourhood, town, city or country) is an exciting research and public engagement project exploring the connections between the sounds we hear in places (soundscapes), our ability to relax and recover (cognitive restoration) and the design of the built environment. The intention is for Designing and Engineering Soundscapes To enable Restorative Environments for Sustainable Societies.

The project will combine knowledge on the health and wellbeing outcomes from experiencing sound in quiet and calm places and how this varies depending on the design of the surrounding buildings and infrastructure.

We want to engage with public, planners, designers, acousticians, and decision makers to understand more about how the sounds around us (soundscapes) impacts on our cognitive and emotional experiences of outdoor public city places. Learning about the effect of the physical design of our buildings, roads, parks, and city spaces on what we hear and do in places, will help us plan and manage our city environments to be beneficial for people’s health and wellbeing and quality of life.

Changes in our built environment can encourage people to stay in a place or quickly walk through it, thus we are interested in preserving those special urban places that do provide some quiet, calm, and tranquillity in our vibrant, buzzing cities.

Project DeStress Singapore Starts Today

Identifying quiet

and calm urban

outdoor places

Do you live, work, or regularly visit either Singapore, Sentosa island  or  Pulau Ubin?
Want the opportunity to be entered into a draw for one of three $15 NTUC vouchers?
Have 10-15 minutes to spare? Then please participate in our online study.

Cities can be exciting and eventful, but they can also be noisy. Access to quiet and calm outdoor places is a necessary balance for cities. Now every world city needs to identify and preserve outdoor places that are quiet. The trouble is knowing which places people think are quiet or calm, or even tranquil, and are worth protecting.

With your help we would like to identify quiet, calm and tranquil places in three Singapore places to help develop guidelines for cities to plan and protect such important places.

Data information
The research is being conducted by Dr Sarah Payne from Heriot-Watt University, UK.
All data collected is confidential and kept on a secure system. You can provide an email address if you would like to be entered into the voucher draw. Your data will be kept separate from your email address straight away. There will be one voucher winner per city. If you change your mind, you can stop completing the questionnaire at any point.

If you are under 16, please discuss this survey first with a parent before continuing, as written consent will be needed.

Your city
Please choose one response for each question below.
Which city do you live in or regularly visit? (choose one)
Why do you know this city well? (choose one)

Identifying urban outdoor areas in Pulau Ubin and Sentosa Cove.

Click on a grey box below to identify a quiet, calm, or tranquil place that you visit. The icon will appear on the map. Position the tip of the icon in your identified place by dragging the icon or moving the map. You may need to 'zoom in' on the map first.
You can identify MULTIPLE places of each type or of different types of quiet, calm or tranquil outdoor places.

Don't forget, you can identify multiple Quiet, Calm, or Tranquil places.
Quiet Places Described in Pulau Ubin and Sentosa Cove
Did you identify any Quiet Places in Pulau Ubin and Sentosa Cove?
Thinking back on ALL the Quiet Places you have
 just identified , briefly describe why they feel
like Quiet places

Most visited Quiet Place in Brighton and Hove

Remember your MOST often visited Quiet Place you identified.
Thinking about the last 12 months, how often,
on average, have you visited this Quiet Place in
Pulau Ubin and Sentosa Cove?

Click in a circle to show your level of agreement with each word for describing your MOST visited Quiet Place.
Strongly DisagreeDisagreeNeutralAgreeStrongly Agree






Built up



Thinking about your time in your MOST visited Quiet Place, how much have you been bothered, disturbed, or annoyed by traffic noise
Not at allSlightlyModeratelyVeryExtremely
Bothered, Disturbed, Annoyed by traffic noise

Calm Places Described in Pulau Ubin and Sentosa Cove

Did you identify any Calm Places in Brighton and Hove? Calm places are the orange icons with the cloud image.
Thinking back on all the Calm Places you have just
 identified in Pulau Ubin and Sentosa Cove (orange icons),
briefly describe why they feel like Calm places

About you
Despite where you may live, do you identify yourself more as urban or rural?


For the next few questions, please show how much you agree with each of the statements:
I am easily awakened by noise
Strongly Disagree

Strongly Agree
I get used to most noises without much difficulty
Strongly Disagree

Strongly Agree
I find it hard to relax in a place that is noisy
Strongly Disagree

Strongly Agree
I am good at concentrating no matter what noise is going on around me
Strongly Disagree

Strongly Agree
I get mad at people who make noise that keeps me from falling asleep or getting work done
Strongly Disagree

Strongly Agree
I am sensitive to noise
Strongly Disagree

Strongly Agree
What type of environment do you live in?


How old are you?

    Final Thoughts
Is there anything you would like to add about urban outdoor quiet, calm, or tranquil places?
How did you find out about this survey? (You can tick multiple options)

If you would like to be entered into the draw for a $15 NTUC voucher
 (one per city) then please enter your email address below.
This information is automatically stored separately from your
responses and will only be used for the purposes of the draw.
Your responses will remain anonymous.
   Thank You
Thank you very much for completing this survey.

Please share this survey with others, using the Twitter or Facebook links below.
All the data will be used to identify quiet and calm places within your city and will be presented to local council authorities. The data will help compile guidelines on identifying quiet external places that should be protected within our urban environments. We're also interested in knowing the relationship between quiet, calm, and tranquil areas. Do they differ and which should we be identifying and protecting?
This survey is part of Project DeStress. One aim is to raise public and practitioner awareness of the impacts and importance of soundscapes (perceived sounds in a place) on our health in both positive and negative ways. The overall aim is Designing and Engineering Soundscapes To enable Restorative Environments for Sustainable Societies (DeStress).
The work is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/R003467/1) and is conducted by Dr Sarah Payne at Heriot-Watt University.
Thank you for your contribution. Please share this survey with others, using the Twitter or Facebook.          

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#22 to #36 tips to help you say GOODBYE THINGS, ...

22.  Discard the things you have already forgotten about.

23. Don't get creative when you're trying to discard things.

We can get amazingly creative when we do not want to part with something. For example, you might stop and say to yourself, : This empty cookie tin might appear to be useless, but wait . . . what if I were to reuse it as a container for storing my medications?"

"I really should say goodbye to this worn-out tote bag . . . But hey, I could use it as aplace to keep my paper bags!"

"This perfume bottle may be pretty, but it is about time I got rid of it. Oh, hold on, I've just come up with a splendid idea! I'll go to the hardware store -- one of these days -- and pick up the wires I need to hook it up as a beautiful lamp!"

Chances are, the beautiful lamp that you've just envisioned will never come to be. Most of these thoughts are desperate ideas that pop into our minds because we really do no want to part with our old possessions. We are never more creative than when we're trying to throw things out. No matter how fantastic these ideas might be, it is probably wiser to do your best to ignore them. Just discard the old things.

24. Let go of the idea of getting your money's worth.

One reason why we tend to think is a waste to discard something is that the item might have been expensive when we first bought it. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we're thinking that we haven't gotten our money's worth yet. But the reality of the matter is that we most likely never will. 

You may have an outfit in a color and design that you love, but a size isn't quite right. It's still like new, and you haven't gotten enough use out of it to justify what you paid for it. Of course it's hard to throw away something like that. 

But what's really happening is that it's taking up space in your home and your mind. Every time you look at it, you can't help but think that it was a mistake to buy that gorgeous outfit in the first place. If you were to convert that psychological drain to a dollar amount, maybe it's small, less than a dollar a day. But it's certainly continuing to cost you. 

Whether or not you have any interest in the stock market, you would probably agree that it's wiser to get rid of stocks if they continue to fall with no prospects of a rebound. The same can be said for the bulk of our possessions. We should let go of the concept of getting our money's worth, and cut our losses sooner rather than later. It's easier on your wallet in the long run, not to mention easier for maintaining peace of mind. Goodbye, things.

25. There's no need to stock up.

Most of us stock up on toilet paper, tissues , and paper towels. Those extra supplies will certainly come in handy if we ever run out; we won't need to go running to the store. plus, sometimes we can save money if we buy in bulk. These are everyday necessities, and we'll be sire to use them, right?

But think about all the space that they're taking up in storage. And the more space you give them, the more they'll take up until it eventually gets to a point where you won't even know just how much you have stocked up.

Let's say you've made a stop at the drugstore on your way home from work and see Q-tips on sale.

"Do I have Q-tips at home? Oh, they're on SALE TODAY, so I'll just pick up a couple of packs," you tell yourself. And then you come home and are shocked to find you already ha enough stocked up to open a pharmacy.

Here is an idea. Start by keeping just one extra package on hand. And then do not replenish it. You can go out and buy another package (just one is enough0 the next time you run out. It is not very considerate to have a bunch of extra supplies just for yourself, especially in times of emergency. Let us get in the good habit of not stocking up now.

26. Feeling the spark of joy will help you focus.

In her best-selling book on the magic of tidying up, click here to Look Inside the book now,  Marie Kondo came up with the killer phrase about sparking joy. The simple method of touching objects and leaving only the things that spark joy can be very useful.

Things that you are not in love with but cost you a lot of money, things that you have not been able to use well that have become more of a burden, things that you have worn down from overuse -- these tend not to spark joy. This test can be quite reliable.

Paying attention to what sparks joy is  way to focus, not on the past or the future but on the present. It is simple enough, and requires minimal amounts of time. As the bar can be surprisingly high for something to spark your joy, possessions that we have not been able to throw away for no particular reason will also make their way into the trash bag.

To throw things away, it is necessary to ask, 'Does this object spark joy or not?" This is an effective way to become more aware of our senses.

As we minimize, and our focus strengthens, we may even be able to go beyond this question about sparking joy. We will return to this idea in the next section.

27.  Auction services are a quick way to part with your possessions.

I have used a number of action services to let go of a lot of my possessions, including the clothes I have barely ever worn, my unused electrical appliances, and my cherished camera collection. I learned this important lesson from a piece of photography equipment -- a combination film developer and photo printer -- I used to own. It was something that I'd gotten at an auction myself, I was bound to get at least a $1,000 -- with a loan from a friend -- but I never got around to using it. I hung on to it thinking that in spite of the trouble it would take to put it up for auction myself, I was bound to get at least a $700 for it. But in the end, I developed an urge to get rid of it right away and ended up throwing it in the trash. Forget about the money I'd expected to collect for it -- after all the time I'd held on to that printer, I ended up having  to pay to get rid of it.

Since then, I have used a local auction service called QuickDo, there are others auction shops springing up around the world where you simply fill out a form and they put your item up for auction. They charge handling fees but you do not have to worry about the hassle of selling or shipping or it yourself. it is a very convenient service that allows you to quickly get rid of your stuff while you can sit back and enjoy watching the bidding. 

28. Use auctions to take one last look at your things.

I was able to get rid of a considerable amount of my belongings through a local auction service. There are of course online auction sites as well, like Yahoo! Auctions, but they require a bit of effort -- you have to take picture of each of your items and fill out all the product information, not to mention ship the goods to your customer. 

Kouta Itou, one of the people I introduce earlier, thinks this extra effort is actually what makes auctions the best way to part with your belongings. Kouta used to be surrounded by his musical instruments and gear, and got rid of them through auctions.

He recommends auctions because the effort of preparing photos and compiling descriptions of your possessions gives you the chance to revisit the feelings you had when you first obtained those things.

And then you can also think about the reasons why each item is no longer needed. The auction preparation leads you to reflect on what those possessions had once meant to you. Kouta says it is during these procedures that he promises to never gain buy something he does not need. Saying goodbye to his things at auctions lets him move forward.

29. Use a pickup service to get rid of your possessions.

Packing and shipping your stuff after auctions can be a hassle. There is an easier way : Consider a pickup service that comes to your door to collect your things. Though they do not pay as much as what you might get through an auction sale, these kinds of services are very convenient. Their people come to your home to buy your goods, and you do not even have to go to the trouble of picking them.

These were people who came to my rescue when I wanted to get rid of larger possessions like my TV set.

30. Don't get hung up on the prices that you initially paid.

31. Think of stores as your personal warehouses. (click here

We should consider stores as our personal warehouses. All those stores out there pay good sums of money to secure space so they can stock all sorts of goods for us, and they manage their items with care. Convenience stores welcome us around the clock. 

32. The city is our personal floor plan.

33. Discard any possessions that you can't discuss with passion. 

34. If you lost it, would you buy it again?

A key way to gauge your passion for something you own is to ask yourself."If I were to somehow lose this, would I want to buy it again at full price?"

If the answer is yes, that item is something that you truly love. It is a necessity for you.

On the other hand, if you are not the least bit interested in buying that same item again, there's clearly something about the product that you dislike. Maybe you are keeping it because it is "good enough." But that's not good enough; say goodbye to those ho-hum things.

It is the things you'd be willing to buy again that give you true satisfaction. 

35. If you can't remember how many presents you've given, don't worry about the gifts you've gotten.

36. Try to imagine what the person who passed away would have wanted.

If gifts are tough, discarding the possessions of a loved one who's passed away seems impossible. We're so concerned about cherishing our memories with that person that we tend to hang on to things for which we have absolutely no use. Do not get me wrong. I think that is an incredibly beautiful, and truly human, sentiment, But imagine that you were the one who had passed on. Would you want the people you have left behind to be confused or troubled about something you left them? Wouldn't you want them to live freely and happily without worrying bout material objects?

Image result for Japanese painter Ryuzaburo Umehara

The Japanese painter Ryuzaburo Umehara left a will saying that there was no need for a funeral and that condolence offerings were not to be accepted. He wrote that the living should not be troubled for the sake of the deceased.

I think it is more meaningful to try to recall the words of a deceased friend or relative, or treasure the things they did for you while they were alive, than spend time managing their possessions. 


The Importance of daydreaming

Recent studies in neuroscience have revealed that there are certain areas in our brain that are active only when we are daydreaming or when our minds are wandering.

These moments are said to be used for self-awareness, orientation, and memory ― or to put it simply, to think about ourselves. A relaxed moment is not without meaning: it is an important time for reflection. Maybe we're sitting at a beach and listening to the sounds of the waves or gazing into a campfire.

Science has proven that these types of relaxed intervals are necessary for us. Whether we're rich or poor, we all get twenty-four (24) hours a day and a night. Finding time to relax is the ultimate luxury.