decluttering your life

Decluttering Your Life With Good Design and Positivity, With Natalie Shell – PS038

Episode Overview

In this episode, Natalie Shell shares her experiences and insights about writing and publishing her book, The Wedding Virus and Other Snippets, the benefits of “chick lit”, the power of design, and decluttering your life. Positivity Strategist host Robyn Stratton-Berkessel and guest Natalie also discuss the value of stories and the role positivity plays in decluttering.

Episode Introduction

Natalie Shell, decluttering your lifeNatalie Shell is an Australian thinker, storyteller, and coach. Her unique coaching practice arises from the intersection of storytelling, environmental psychology, and design thinking to help clients get started, shift stories, gain clarity, and to take major leaps.  She’s one half of lifestyle blog, co-founder of Breathe & Shine, ex-Product & Brand Manager & UX Junkie at, and change consultant. Her debut book of short stories, The Wedding Virus and Other Snippets was released in May 2015. An avid traveller, she has lived and worked in 5 countries. These days you can find her living with her Mr. and son in Tel Aviv.

The Wedding Virus

Natalie’s book The Wedding Virus and Other Snippets is a collection of humorous essays and stories that pokes fun of what was really in the lives of her friends who live all around the world rather than the stories they were being fed. The title is a joke about how weddings and babies spread like a virus between people.

Weddings and marriage are very different things. Natalie suggests that some people may actually just want the wedding. Marriage is fare more interesting.  She suggests that a better word to describe “marriage” is “partnership.”

Fun and Not-so-fun Aspects of  Self-publishing

Not-so-fun: As humorous as her book's title is – The Wedding Virus and Other Snippets – listen in to the episode to find out how well it translates as a subject line in an email!

Fun: Ask for help from others. You might be surprised by how many people come together to support your success. You’ll also get opportunities to work with talented people and experience community.

Gain as much knowledge as you can about promotion, especially long-term promotion. There’s a lot of value spending time (if you can) before even releasing your book to create a really strong launch plan and marketing plan.

Starting something is really important. Finishing a cycle, letting it go, and letting it become what it needs to become is really important part of the process, too.

Benefits of “Chick Lit”

Natalie confesses  that she can take herself too seriously. She writes about happiness, letting go, decluttering, and positive change. For her, chick lit provides a lighter entry point to get to some tough challenging issues.

Natalie enjoys this genre because it allows lightness of dialogue, giving you the platform where you can talk about really deep, tough topics but in a lighter way. For example, there’s a chapter in The Wedding Virus about 49 things you don’t talk about. Because it’s under another mode (chick lit), it allows you to bypass the natural block that people might have for talking about those topics and offers them in a different way. Chick lit allows you to flaunt humor, the ridiculous, and get to people's truths. You can make a fiction or comedy about how we live our lives,  and thereby you yourself becomes more accessible. Chick lit also gives a break from the things going on in our lives and world. Humor is great therapy and a great leveler.

Power of Good Design

Design makes a big difference. The power of design — good design — can lead to greater positivity and happiness. Our environments affect our moods.  They make us feel happy or sad.

Conscious design with inspiration incorporates understanding about the influence of the physical space in our lives, and using a physical approach to initiate  all kinds of changes. Having “happy house rules” — when you feel good at home, you also feel good in your life –so, by working with your space and place, it releases some of that stuckness in your head. This concept can easily be seen in a number of traditions such as feng shui.  Natalie shows there is great power to work with physical space changes, as those changes are easier to implement than the changes we might need to make in our head space.

Combination of design and environment — an intersection of interior design and environmental psychology — design thinking provides opportunity for positive change.

Positivity Lens NotebookPOSITIVITY LENS for this Episode

Download Natalie's suggested “positive activities” for this episode: Hint – it’s about the power of release and clearing some space to allow more positivity into your life.

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Decluttering Your Life

Robyn shares that when she gets into a state of overwhelm, one thing that helps her get out of it is to do a displacement activity: such as tidying up her filing cabinet or some other mess that's in her physical space.  This physical act is creating order and clears space for other ideas and activities to emerge.

Unfortunately, simply telling ourselves, “Be ordered in your mind now,” doesn’t work well for many of us. Instead of thinking about “changing your behavior,” reframe the situation and your perspective as “changing the direction in which you want to go” — and reframing in itself is creating a change in direction.

The issue of clutter is deeper and goes beyond “stuff.” Natalie says that stuff becomes something that people have imbued with memories and feelings. We’ve put something into our stuff and into our home that maybe we actually want to be working on: working with stuff, understanding why we’re keeping something, and understanding what it is that’s not making us feel good. Clutter is not just material items; it’s also symbolic and a manifestation of stress.

“Change your space (or change your place), change your luck.” – loosely translated Hebrew saying

If you ask yourself where you’re feeling most stressed in your home, you most likely know the answer — and it’s usually reflecting something else. When that area is put in order and you make the space feel better, then you feel better. There’s a shift in mindset because something has shifted. Natalie explains that when something actually shifts, you get a different fortune and a different path appears. Your relation to things change, so you get a different outcome. Decluttering is a physical manifestation of engaging in positivity and psychologically freeing yourself.

Robyn emphasizes the power of emotions; and to help overcome our  negativity bias,  we need to build up our positivity muscle. By default, we tend to find things that don’t work, upset us, or are challenging to us because of our survival instinct (fight or flight). We have to constantly work at positivity. For Natalie, positivity is a muscle and a reflex of looking at what’s good, what’s working, and putting ourselves in situations and doing things that make us feel happier and better.

Value of Stories

For Natalie, as a storyteller, the value of stories is to bring out our humanity. She added that stories are even more valuable now because we’re engaging in a lot of devices and our world is becoming increasingly machine dependent. Therefore, there  is an increased need to connect at the human level.  Sharing stories are a powerful way to facilitate that.

“If you tell the right story to the right person at the right time, you change their world.” – line in Hasidic storytelling tradition

Natalie reflects that when she tells a story, she is a really good version of herself. By gathering stories, especially positive ones, we can increase our likelihood of changing the world. The exchange of stories allows people to be heard and listened to. Stories also serve as a mirror for the person telling them and the person listening.

Links Mentioned In This Episode

Books Mentioned In This Episode

[amazonjs asin=”151152054X” locale=”US” title=”The Wedding Virus and Other Snippets”]

[amazonjs asin=”1607747308″ locale=”US” title=”The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”]

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