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Happiness in Homes

“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence,” said Aristotle. Happiness is every human being’s birthright. We could even say that it is a state of mind, a choice and a way of life. Undeniably, our need to be happy is what drives us to make our various choices in life. Finding that inner peace is the final destination and one of the paths we need to take seeking happiness is creating a harmonious and healthy living space.

‘Show me your home and I will tell you who you are’ is such an apt phrase as one’s living space is a reflection of who they are and what their state of mind is. A house by itself is a shelter freed from the idea of a cave and what distinguishes a house from a home is the element of warmth, which typically has to be a reflection of the personality of the residents! Many a time, we come across this terrible disconnect between the home and the residents. Aspiring to be in touch with the current trend is very creditable but before getting into details of styling, it is important to pay attention to certain forgotten fundamentals. Today, these practices are being revived and the awareness has increased quite a bit worldwide.

Whether one believes in the traditional Feng Shui or Vaastu, ultimately the main focus is to create a sense of balance, increase the positive energy and reduce negative energy in any living space. The key is to create a space, which kindles all 5 senses. Most of the principles discussed are fairly logical and adapting these would make an immediate difference.

1. Before entering your home, remove your footwear and make a habit of arranging it on a rack neatly. Footwear represents the external stress like bad day at work or traffic jam, and the ritual of placing it inside a proper rack represents a conscious decision to compartmentalize and cast off the worries and troubles as well as the dirt of the outside world.

2. Ensure your living space is clean, clutter free and organized. Clutter represents mayhem and in such an environment, it is likely that you would be stressed about even the smallest of things. Being organized makes a big difference on a daily basis. Bedroom closets, bathrooms, drawers, kitchen cabinets are some of the typical areas to focus on. One of the best remedies to stress is creating an organized living environment.

3. Discard anything that you have not used personally last 6 months. This whole concept of saving for the rainy day has been rather misunderstood. A sense of insecurity is what has made us keep collecting and accumulating more than we require. You would be surprised about how many of our homes are breeding grounds for insecurity! One needs to be logical about what goes into storage because many a time we tend to store more than we need and this attitude actually tends to increase the stress level. The thought of having to clear is a stress inducer! Basic rule of thumb here is, if you find reasons to hold onto something beyond 6 months, it means you do not need it. Get rid of it!

4. Clear the home of anything broken, chipped or damaged. Chipped glasses, broken items are all negative energy. If you have items that need to be mended, do not put that on the backburner. Either get them repaired or get rid of them. Mentally, knowing that you have so many unfinished projects and errands by themselves can cause stress. They also occupy space, need to be maintained and it’s all just a vicious circle. Review them impersonally, and if you choose to recycle them, act on it immediately.

5. Natural light, fresh air, cross ventilation and greenery! The more of these in a home, the better it is for the dwellers. It is important to open the windows and keep them open for natural air to circulate. In the times of air conditioners, we are forgetting the importance of fresh air and natural light. It is important to use technology to enhance quality of life but not at the cost of forgetting what is good for us. Towards night, avoid bright lights for an hour before bed as this would help your body’s natural cycle to slowly move towards night. Plants represent harmony and these are one of the best accessories which also improve the quality of air inside your living space. Ensure to keep your plants clean and healthy as they increase the happiness quotient by absorbing all the negativity. Place them all over your home; size and presentation is again left to your discretion.

6. Demarcate the public, semi private and private spaces of your home. This is a very important aspect that needs to be addressed in most homes. Bedrooms are very private spaces, dining area and kitchen semi private and the foyer and living room are public spaces. Clearly defining the levels of privacy will assist in how you can design and accessorize to personalize your space. Keep that home office and library away from your bedroom and your exercise equipment from your living room or bedrooms. While we have to make do with the space available, there is sanctity to the spaces and levels of privacy; kindly define it and stick to it for the sake of yourself and your loved ones.

7. Choose colours that help you unwind and recharge your batteries. Earthy tones have a calming effect on one’s nerves. Whether it’s the wall colour, bedding, artwork, fabrics or decorative objects, soft, neutral colours provide a sense of clam. One’s intuition is the best guide to whether they like the cool or the warm palette! If you would like to have bright colours in your home, use them sparingly in your living room and dining room at the most. Bedrooms and the study need to have a calming effect and the colours adorning these rooms do have a bearing on the mind and body.

8. Banish that television from your living room and bedroom. Watching television actually drains your energy. It is very important for families to bond over lunches and dinners, talk to each other and spend quality time together. Gone are the days when families would sit and discuss what happened during their day at work and enjoy a meal together as television and social calendars have started dictating our mind space. It is important to unwind with loved ones. Keep a space and time aside for television and make a conscious decision to balance the time you spend in front of the idiot box. Trust me, the number of divorces and broken families would reduce if this practice starts in every troubled home!

9. Focus on the bedrooms. We are supposed to spend a third of our lives sleeping. Ergonomics and safety are of paramount importance. It is very vital that the beds are very comfortable; pillows are easy on your neck, the linen clean and the space very clutter free and organized. The ambience needs to be calming. May it be the kid’s bedroom or of a couple, TV in these rooms is an absolute no-no. The violence and negative news can be absorbed into your subconscious and may cause nightmares. Try introducing aromatic candles and air diffusers to enhance the atmosphere.

10. Soothing sound of nature or melodious music makes for a calming environment. When we listen to the gentle waves, mountain streams, chirping birds or a mild breeze wafting through the trees, our heart rate slows down, breathing becomes more expansive and our nerves are calmed. Buddhist chants and AUM chants are also recommended. Introduce wind chimes, which produce very pleasant sound whenever there is natural breeze in your home. A small water feature generating sound of water would also be a lovely accessory in a private space. The concept being, the life-force energy emanating from natural surroundings will be healing for one’s body and mind.

11. Personalize and accessorize your home. It is very important to personalize your space, as your home is a reflection of who you are. Public areas could be splashed with paintings, artefacts, antiques and collections; semi private areas can even house art created by family, family portraits and other memories combined with conversation pieces and private areas have to be kept private.

12. Family moments, awards and art need to be displayed. These are an integral part of any home and where you place them is also very important. In the semi private areas, it is a good idea to have family portraits, photographs and collectibles from various holidays and important milestones for the family to increase the bond. The focus is to enhance communication and recognize and take pride in the joy of sharing. It is a good idea to place images of parents and children in young children’s rooms as it helps the kids feel more secure. However, it is very important to keep the bedroom free from photographs of Gods, gurus and of all your friends and family. It is a couple’s private space, which should even be free of images of kith and kin. That space is about just the couple.

13. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the happiest of us all? Mirrors absorb and reflect positive and negative energy and positioning them appropriately is the key. Mirrors can be used for both decorative purposes and also to help increase security in a space. Sensible positioning can help make the space feel larger and help one keep a tab on the space. It is a good idea to ensure that your mirrors reflect beautiful surroundings. Position mirrors to pick up pleasing views of the outdoors whenever possible. Ensure it’s not chipped or damaged or cracked and is kept clean. Avoid mirrors facing the beds in the bedrooms.

Your home needs to be and feel comfortable, open, organized, nourishing and safe. When your space is calm, your thoughts slow down and you can begin to feel the inner happiness. Styling and finishing touches are very personal, however, if they are done with the above principles in mind, you will feel relaxed, rejuvenated and inspired to move towards your dreams.

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