The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

Categories SpiritualPosted on

“Part guidebook on how to how to de-clutter your home, part meditation on coming to terms with aging and how to make the process of downsizing less painful,”

“The only thing we know for sure,” writes Magnusson in the very first sentence of the book, “is that one day we will die. But before that, we can do anything.”

Apparently, one of the most important things one can and should do is decluttering his/her house.Because, as our favorite modern lyricist Leonard Cohen says : “Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”

So, let’s see what this means in practice and how tidying up your home can be – or even is – related to death.

Döständning, or One Last Sweep Before You Die
Let’s start with an inevitable fact: one day you’ll die, and you’ll leave a lot of items behind you. Have you ever thought about what will happen to them once you’re gone?

As it should be only obvious, your loved ones will one day have to go through them. You can guess the results: they’ll throw away some of them, they’ll keep others, they’ll try to decide who deserves what of the most valuable ones.

This process is both physically and psychologically taxing; in many cases, no wonder that, in many cases, it can result in acrimonious disputes.

Take, for example, Margareta herself.On her deathbed, her mother left her a charming bracelet. However, unlike her mother, Margareta has five children, so she knew full well that no matter what her choice would be on who to inherit it, that bracelet will probably cause much more sadness and bitterness than joy and laugher.

Her solution?She simply sold the bracelet; as valuable as it was (of course, emotionally much more than financially), it wasn’t nearly as valuable as family bliss.

The selling of the bracelet was part of Margareta’s döständning, Swedish for “death cleaning,” or, as we would like to say “one last sweep before you die.”It may sound strange, but it is a fact of life in the Scandinavian countries.

Just like it is a great idea to clean your house before you leave on vacation (so that you are not shocked once you come back), the Scandinavians believe that it is an even better one – nay, a duty! – to comb through all of your belongings and throw away the unnecessary stuff before you live this planet.

After all, who knows them better than you? And why should you bother others with your useless items?

Decluttering Is Bonding – If You Do It Right
In other words, if you care for your loved ones, then it’s only fair to spare them the emotional and physical burden of cleaning up your stuff.
Start with your attic or basement (depending on which one of the two you have) and with the big items: furniture, books, items that take up a lot of space…

It’s not that you can’t start with the small items in that secret box under your bed, but let’s face it – it will take you forever to make any progress if you do that.

Not that it’s easy to get rid of your old dollhouses or twice-used sports equipment!After all, these items will remind you of your happy childhood days just as you’re nearing to your death; and, as we learned from Citizen Kane, nothing can be more poignant and heartbreaking than that!

However, think of the problems your books or toys may cause between your loved ones once you are gone; and should we remind you that you won’t be there to mend them?

So, ask yourself for each item: will you ever need this again? Will someone else need it?

Granted, as tricky as it is, the first question may be a bit easier to answer than the latter one.

Magnusson has a solution for that: if you don’t know if something will be useful to some of your loved ones, well, call them and ask them!
While you’re alive.There, now you’ve created a great opportunity for the family to bond!

Because not many of them will know everything about the younger “you,” and some of them – like your grandchildren, for example – will probably discover a completely new “you.”

Nothing bonds as much as a walk down memory lane.

Here’s your chance to walk it – while you declutter!

Döständning and Being Discreet
As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a bit dangerous to invite your loved ones over to help you declutter if some of the things you’ve kept throughout the years, you’ve kept hidden from them for a reason.

Take a page out of Margareta Magnusson’s book.After the death of her parents, she was death cleaning their house and found a few unusual items; for example, secret cartons of cigarettes hidden in a linen closet.

Apparently, her mother was smoking in private – something she didn’t want anyone to know or find out. Margareta included: she realized that she might have been happier if she had never found about her mother’s vice.

More mysterious and even scarier, in her father’s desk, Margareta discovered a large piece of arsenic dating from at least three decades before her father’s death.

Since her father passed away in the 1970s, it was evident to Margareta that the arsenic was acquired when her parents had feared that Sweden might be invaded by the Germans.

However, why did it remain in the cabinet for so long? Did her father – or even her parents – had another secret that Margareta would probably never find out?Once again, do you really like your children and their children to wonder about things such as these once you’re not alive to offer an explanation?

So, be very careful before you start inviting your relatives and gifting them your memories. Some of your memories are not supposed to be given away.Yes, that is especially true for your diaries and your love letters!Read them carefully and see if there’s anything in there you don’t want anyone to find out.If so, ask yourself whether it’s smart to keep them still.

Time to throw them away or, better yet, burn them!

The Throw-Away Box and the Cabinet for the Ugly
Now, Margareta knows that it’d be almost impossible for you to get rid of things as personal as diaries, letters or photographs.

If that’s the case, Margareta suggests putting them in an easily disposable “throw-away box,” adorned with a sticker: “please throw away this without opening it.”

This should certainly help since it bereaves you of the burden of throwing away something you cherish in addition to relieving you from your doubts that these things will eventually be seen by someone else after your death.

But, let’s face it: there’s no guarantee about the latter. So, we suggest the strategy above: when you are confident that something of yours should be seen by nobody other than yourself, make sure that you are the last person who’ll ever see it.

On the subject of throw-away containers – Magnusson mentions another type:I do know people who maintain what we in Sweden call a fulskåp, a cabinet for the ugly. A fulskåp is a cupboard full of gifts you can’t stand to look at, and which are impossible to regift. Usually these are presents from distant aunts and uncles that you put on display when the giver comes to visit.

You don’t need Magnusson to tell you that “this is a bad idea.” It both occupies space and inspires others to give you similar gifts.

If those gifts are not who you are – be honest.

If you’re a girl and you vax, you know what we’re talking about: the rip of the Band-Aid hurts like hell, but everything’s both better and cleaner soon after.

Key Lessons from “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”

  1. Decluttering: A Lesson from the Vikings
  2. Swedish Death Cleaning: The Art You Should Master
  3. Decluttering and the Two Questions You Should Ask About Each Item You Own

Decluttering: A Lesson from the Vikings
Once you die, you leave behind many of your items on this planet. Of course, these become a responsibility of your loved ones: they need to clean your stuff up.So, take a page out of the book of the Vikings: when they died, they were buried (or cremated) together with their belongings.

This way, the Vikings believed, they wouldn’t miss their favorite items in Valhalla; but also – speaking in more practical manners – this way the surviving loved ones wouldn’t have to quarrel over who should own them.

For example, in Greek mythology, Ajax went mad and killed himself after Odysseus got Achilles’ armor soon after Achilles was killed.

Yup, that’s a very cruel, but also good, metaphor for the problems your bracelet may cause once you die – if, say, you have more than one daughter.

Swedish Death Cleaning: The Art You Should Master
There’s a better way to tackle this problem.It’s called döständning in Swedish, a word which can be translated as “death cleaning” in English.

And it means exactly what you think it means: getting rid of the stuff you don’t need so that your surviving loved ones don’t have to once you leave this planet.

It’s not only good manners – but it’s also a great way to spare your loved ones the psychological burden of painful memories even long after you’re gone.

“Let me help make your loved ones’ memories of you nice,” says Magnusson at one place, “instead of awful.”

Decluttering and the Two Questions You Should Ask About Each Item You Own
An excellent way to decide whether an item should be thrown away or kept is by asking two questions about it.The first one is the obvious one: “Will I ever need this?”

The second one becomes more important with every day you’re nearing to your death “Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?”

If you don’t know the answer to the second question, invite your loved ones and ask them in person. Thus, decluttering becomes a great way to bond with them.

However, don’t ever forget:

You can always hope and wait for someone to want something in your home, but you cannot wait forever, and sometimes you must just give cherished things away with the wish that they end up with someone who will create new memories of their own.

Before The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, we didn’t even know that there was such a thing as “death cleaning.” Now, it’s suddenly all we think about.

“A fond and wise little book,” writes Dwight Garner for The New York Times. “I jettison advice books after I’ve flipped through them. This one I will keep.”

The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking

Categories HappinessPosted on

We all want to be happy and who better than to learn from scandinavians in particular, Denmark which particular tops all the time in happiness rankings. What makes danes happy is the country’s sense of community . 9 out of 10 danes are happy to pay taxes because they trust it will be for common good and they will be take care of , if they get sick or loose a job.

A sense of community starts of happiness, a 1967 article “Children Should have 100 parents” led to cohousing communities in Denmark and this has grown rapidly and reaped its rewards. Along with a sense of community being in the real world and disconnecting from the virtual world helps reduce loneliness and increase satisfaction.

Normally it is thought that wealthier countries tend to rank higher in happiness but it is untrue, South Korea is a case in e.g, very wealthy but has the highest rate of suicides per capita and ranked 55th on the World Happiness report.

Experience and anticipation of experiences keeps us happy. It is not the product purchase alone but the anticipation of making that purchase that makes us happy. We can then link a certain goal to a upcoming purchase and be more happy. Knowing that good times are round the corner keeps us more happy. In the same breadth comparison to what other people have spurs unhappiness.

Being fit, is another reason that makes danes happy.Cycling is the norm and bicycles are everywhere, more than 63% people bike to work,. That itself says it all, for the social effect of this one deed. So if you want to be happy start walking/biking more.

Trust, health, fairness and generous communities are recipe of a country’s happiness.One of the important aspects of happiness is freedom and this includes free time. Danes spend fewer hours at work than in the US/India. Parents have 52 weeks of paid leave divided between them. New parents are less happy than their peers who have no kids because of lack of support system to address this Denmark created the Bonus Grandparents program to connect senior citizens to the community. Parent get more free time and seniors get more activities in their life- this is a real win-win.

When we trust others more, we experience more happiness. If people trust that their dropped wallet will be returned, their are likely to feel better and secure. This starts with having empathy. Hence, it is important to develop social and emotional skills of children and improve sensitivities. This can be done by reading stories together. This is a common classroom activity in all Scandinavian countries.

Countries with more economic equality are places of more trust and happiness, since people feel secure and see others as cooperators , not competitors. Therefore social inequality rising has a beating on happiness. This has been proven in scientific experiments. As a analogy, researcher Katherine DeCelles of HBS has found that for cases of air rage, the worst contributor to the feeling of injustice is the first class section in aeroplanes. If we could have the economy section passengers walk through a seperate gate , passengers may feel lesser air rage.

When you do something nice, you get helpers high, It comes from nucleus accumbens that is also responsible for good feelings of eating and sex. In a way helping each other is an evolutionary key to our survival. Volunteering makes you happy. You may think people who volunteer are already happy but it is likely to be reverse that volunteers feel more grateful for what they know now, that is how fortunate they are and what it means to be poor. Further it boosts friendships and social relationships as well. 70% of danes volunteer and hence get helpers high.

So start a random act of kindness today, Be happy !

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The strength switch by Lea Waters

Categories *FREE*, RelationshipsPosted on

The strength switch offers scientifically grounded solution on on strength based parenting. Human nature sees fault in everything, the same is true for parenting, when our attention is selective we only see our child’s faults. The author Dr Walters saw the same when her child Nick did not park his bicycle at the place told, despite reminders. She noticed this but failed to notice his warm welcoming her home everyday or his neatly putting shoes and lunch box at the right place rather than just throwing away.

However, things did not improve, it was only when she lovingly mentioned her child’s strengths that improvements happened. Strengths are in part genetically determined and some are shaped by the environment. Children genetic ability gets multiplied by repeated efforts and they excel. The lesson here is to give the child an environment which reinforces here genetic strengths.

Neuroscientist E.R Sorrell says that from age of six till adolescence the brain density dramatically increases and it produces more cells than it will ever need. Its natural then to be involved in too many new activities and have chaos.Parents should be relaxed and nudge children to their strengths in this phase.In adolescence these strengths are consolidated. Cells diminish, create neural circuits and consolidate. Hence strengths must be focused even more.

Our attention is 20-30 mins and for a child it is even less, for 3 years it is 3-5 mins. If your child is focusing on a single activity it is likely they are putting natural strengths to use. It is important to praise such kind of concentration. But helpful praise is always specific praise.

Guilt and shaming are common methods of disciplining children. But shaming should be avoided. Guilt can act as a reminder of child’s responsibilities and stimulate empathy and remorsefulness but shame preys on the child very person and makes them feel rejected. If you see your child teasing other kids at school a reminder of occasions she displayed empathy and kindness and expressing disappointment that she did not use those special strengths is a good way to work on improving behaviors.

In all, we need to help work on children strength while being mindful and calm ourselves. This creates an environment to prosper.

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Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Categories *FREE*, ExperiencesPosted on

Can’t Hurt Me is about how David Goggins transformed himself through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work. He details his personal tools like The Accountability Mirror, The Governor, The 40% Rule, The Cookie Jar and Taking Souls

He didn’t come from a perfect family or had God-given talent, he says “It came from personal accountability which brought me self respect, and self-respect will always light a way forward.”

“Very few people know how the bottom feels, but I do. It’s like quicksand. It grabs you, sucks you under, and won’t let go. When life is like that it’s easy to drift and continue to make the same comfortable choices that are killing you, over and over again.”

“You’re probably living at about 40 percent of your true capability.”

“Heraclitus, a philosopher born in the Persian Empire back in the fifth century BC, had it right when he wrote about men on the battlefield. ‘Out of every one hundred men,” he wrote, “ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior…’”

“From the time you take your first breath, you become eligible to die. You also become eligible to find your greatness and become the One Warrior. But it is up to you to equip yourself for the battle ahead.”

“Only you can master your mind, which is what it takes to live a bold life filled with accomplishments most people consider beyond their capability.”

“Human beings change through study, habit, and stories. Through my story, you will learn what the body and mind are capable of when they’re driven to maximum capacity, and how to get there. Because when you’re driven, whatever is in front of you, whether it’s racism, sexism, injuries, divorce, depression, obesity, tragedy, or poverty, becomes fuel for your metamorphosis.”

“I brainwashed myself into craving discomfort. If it was raining, I would go run. Whenever it started snowing, my mind would say, Get your fu*king running shoes on. Sometimes I wussed out and had to deal with it at the Accountability Mirror. But facing that mirror, facing myself, motivated me to fight through uncomfortable experiences, and, as a result, I became tougher. And being tough and resilient helped me meet my goals.”

“Everything in life is a mind game! Whenever we get swept under by life’s dramas, large and small, we are forgetting that no matter how bad the pain gets, no matter how harrowing the torture, all bad things end.”

Goggins’s Commanding Officer told him,

In a society where mediocrity is too often the standard and too often rewarded. There is an intense fascination with men who detest mediocrity, who refuse to define themselves in conventional terms, and who seek to transcend traditionally recognized human capabilities. This is exactly the type of person BUD/S is meant to find. The man who finds a way to complete each and every task to the best of his ability. The man who will adapt and overcome any and all obstacles.

Goggins began changing his life by speaking to himself in the mirror every night.

He writes, I set goals, wrote them on Post-It notes, and tagged them to what I now call the Accountability Mirror because each day I’d hold myself accountable to the goals I’d set. At first, my goals involved shaping up my appearance and accomplishing all my chores without having to be asked. […] [It] kept me on point from then on, and though I was still young when this strategy came through me, since then I’ve found it useful for people at any stage in life.

According to Goggins, like a car with a governor that places a ceiling on the car’s performance, we, too, have a governor that impedes us from reaching our true potential.

In his own words,Our governor is buried deep in our minds, intertwined with our very identity. It knows what and who we love and hate; it’s read our whole life story and forms the way we see ourselves and how we’d like to be seen. It’s the software that delivers personalized feedback—in the form of pain and exhaustion, but also fear and insecurity, and it uses all of that to encourage us to stop before we risk it all. But, here’s the thing, it doesn’t have absolute control. Unlike the governor in an engine, ours can’t stop us unless we buy into its bulls*t and agree to quit.

Goggins writes that many of us live at 40% of their true capability. Only when we callous our mind through stepping out of our comfort zone on a regular basis can we move beyond it.

He writes, Most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40 percent of our maximum effort. Even when we feel like we’ve reached our absolute limit, we still have 60 percent more to give! […] Once you know that to be true, it’s simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and all your self-limiting stories, so you can get to 60 percent, then 80 percent and beyond without giving up. I call this The 40% Rule, and the reason it’s so powerful is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.

Before eating a cookie as a child, Goggins always took the time to admire it first as a way of practicing gratitude. Today, “The Cookie Jar” is a concept he employs whenever he needs a reminder of who he is and what he’s capable of.

In his own words, We all have a cookie jar inside us, because life, being what it is, has always tested us. Even if you’re feeling low and beat down by life right now, I guarantee you can think of a time or two when you overcame odds and tasted success. It doesn’t have to be a big victory either. It can be something small.

On the toughest day of the hardest week in the world’s toughest training, Goggins tormented his instructors by motivating his team to push themselves harder.

Goggins coined the term “Taking Souls” after motivating himself to push him and his team harder as a means of getting inside his instructors’ heads.

He writes, Taking Souls is a ticket to finding your own reserve power and riding a second wind. It’s the tool you can call upon to win any competition or overcome every life obstacle. […] This is a tactic for you to be your best when duty calls. It’s a mind game you’re playing on yourself. Taking someone’s soul means you’ve gained a tactical advantage. Life is all about looking for tactical advantages.

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Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Categories *FREE*Posted on

Bad Blood is about Elizabeth Holmes and her startup Theranos. She was considered the female Steve Jobs in the making.But the company she and her Stanford alumni peer Shaunak Roy built  was a house of cards, trapped in lies and trickery .The startup promised a  tiny, ultra-portable, cheap and quick blood-testing device capable of screening for 200 conditions.

The idea was a wearable patch which would test patients’ blood over the course of a day using microneedles. It only aimed to do away not only with the needles but also provide real-time information on bloodwork to assist ongoing diagnoses. It was hailed as a “miracle machine.” However, there was just one problem: the machines was virtually impossible to build and what they built did not live up to the promise they had made. However, rather than owing it.

At one time in 2014, this company selling a device that didn’t work was valued at $9 billion and had agreements to supply the Edison to global distribution heavyweights Safeway and Walgreens; Theranos mislead regulators, investors and customers and risked the lives of millions of people and even prompted an employee suicide.

When they knew microneedles wouldn’t be able to draw enough blood. They had a credit-card-sized blood-testing machine which would draw a few drops of blood using a pinprick. This could be plugged to another machine to check for 240 common ailments from vitamin D deficiency to HIV.The machine was called Edison. But it soon ran into trouble.The idea of using a single pinprick was unworkable. That was a problem – after all, it was the Edison’s main selling point. But it proved impossible to screen for 240 ailments using such a tiny blood sample. Timothy Hamill, the vice chairman of the University of California’s San Francisco-based Department of Laboratory Medicine, went on the record to say that it was unlikely that you’d be able to run 240 separate tests on a single drop of blood even if you worked on a solution for a thousand years

The company tried special microchambers to move the blood around. But  nothing worked for more than 80 common illnesses. The accuracy was questionable, the blood became diluted during the with low reliability of the results. The Edison was also temperature-sensitive and not workable in different  climates. The pipettes became clogged up and became useless in a month .  Cleaning required a physical employee to do it. The machine had  problems determining sodium and potassium
levels. Red blood cells split apart when they’re extracted with a pinprick, making the results dubious at best.

But Holmes was seen as  female Steve Jobs, Investors lined up and , and cash started pouring into the company. Holmes chose Apple’s ad to represent Theranos. People looked at her, as an icon in the making – the first self-made billionaire businesswoman who earned her fortune making a machine that saved lives!

Theranos hired Larry Ellison, the respected Oracle ex CEO. he  applied his software model sending out buggy software and working on perfecting it later during beta-testing. Theranos was in such a rush to get its products to market.

Theranos started deceiving and fooling its investors as well as journalists and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about its devices.  She said tests could be done in 30 mins . The vast majority of tests, for example, weren’t even carried out by the Edison! On a good day, the boxes were capable of running around 20 of the 240 most important tests.. Hematology and chemical tests were performed using the traditional method of extracting blood from a vein. The vial containing the customer’s blood was then express-couriered to a lab in Palo Alto where it was tested using machines produced by other manufacturers, notably Siemens. So what did Theranos do? They secretly used third-party machines to do the tests, knowing full well that the regulators would assume they were using their own Edison.

Theranos wasn’t just lying to its investors and customers. The company was also deceiving the entire medical establishment and press. By this point, team Theranos had become a past master at manipulating and cherry-picking data to polish its image. Theranos also liked to boast that the efficiency of its Edison had been verified in peer-reviewed journals.That turned out to be a bogus claim.The only “peer-reviewed” article published about the device appeared in an obscure pay-to-publish Italian journal called Hematology Reports. The article’s data set was drawn from a mere six patients.

So how did the company continue to attract investment given that their product was performing so poorly?Unsurprisingly, they lied some more. The demonstrations shown to angel investors were also fake.

The levels of deception practiced here bordered on the surreal. In the early stages of product development, Theranos even used mock machines incapable of performing real blood tests.

Blood could be seen percolating through the device before false readings popped up on the display.

The investors were kept in the dark. When VIPs visited Palo Alto, a pinprick of their blood was put in the Edison for show. Once they’d left the room, however, the blood sample was quickly dispatched to a lab and processed in a Siemens machine!

By now, you might be wondering how Theranos managed to pull off its scam in such a carefully regulated market. The answer is simple: it went to extraordinary lengths to dodge FDA regulation. The key to Theranos’ ploy was to pretend that the Edison wasn’t a medical device at all.Because the results were forwarded to Palo Alto for analysis, it claimed, the device was simply a tool for sending information. That meant it wasn’t subject to FDA regulation.

Theranos reluctantly changed its tack when Dr. Shoemaker, a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, insisted on having the boxes approved by the FDA before he would consider installing them in military field hospitals.The company promised that it’d conform to FDA standards but stalled just long enough for Shoemaker to retire. After that, the whole project was quietly dropped.

Discontent among employees was high, and the company had a huge staff turnover. Theranos protected its secrets by making workers sign confidentiality agreements, preventing the disgruntled from leaking compromising details to the press. Theranos had a trick up its sleeve,: it systematically hired Indian employees who were dependant on their work visas to remain in the United States. Recruiting staff from India was easy enough. Elizabeth’s boyfriend and second-in-command Sunny Balwani was Indian and had excellent connections in the country’s tech industry.

But these policies soon resulted in tragedy.Ian Gibbons, a British biochemist who’d been tirelessly working on Theranos’ immunoassays for years, committed suicide in 2013. Earlier, he’d been demoted for questioning the company’s honesty regarding the machines it was using for tests.As a result of his objections, he was replaced by a junior scientist with far fewer qualifications but one key asset: he didn’t rock the boat like Gibbons.

No one knows how many patients died as a result of Theranos’ reckless behavior. What we do know is that its Edison boxes were used one million times in Arizona alone before Walgreens pulled the plug on its collaboration with the company. Theranos was forced to repay the $4.65 billion it had received for carrying out blood tests in the state.

A lesson for entrepreneurs-not to get carried away too far on their idea.

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