How to Get What You Really Want

Top tips from local experts on how to feel and look better and have a happier life, a cleaner house, more time and more success.



 

How to be Happier:

Get Organized

Work Hard

Buy Some Time

 

How to Get Fit:

Box Your Way to Strength

 

How to Look Your Best:

Finding Great Clothes

Reveal Healthy Skin

 

How to be More Successful:

Know Yourself

 


 

How to be Happier: Get organized

When it comes to getting organized, home is often where the heart of the problem is. Helen Youn, the Canadian Prairies’ first certified KonMari consultant, specializes in helping clients clear out the clutter using the KonMari Method. Created by Marie Kondo, author of the international bestseller The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the KonMari process is about determining whether items in your home “spark joy” within you (and getting rid of them if they don’t).

According to Youn, just being in a cluttered space can take up a lot of brain power. By getting rid of distracting clutter and only keeping items that make you happy, you have more time to work on your “ideal lifestyle” — basically, getting rid of junk frees up your emotional and mental space to focus on being happier.

“What makes the KonMari Method really different is we organize by category and not by room,” Youn says. For example, instead of looking at all the stuff in your living room, with the KonMari Method you’d start by looking at all of your clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous items and, finally, sentimental items. 

“Whenever people are thinking about tidying up, they’re usually only thinking about a specific area at home [like the kitchen or living room]. But when you do that, you end up moving things from room to room, so you waste a lot of time and that’s what we don’t want people to do,” says Youn. “We want people to look at things just one time and then they don’t have to deal with them again, because then you can move on and actually live the life that you want to live.” —A.W.

 

How to be Happier: Work Hard

Do you think you’d be happier if you scored the winning lottery ticket? Ran away to Mexico? Were swept off your feet by prince/princess charming? 

Nope. 

Turns out it’s not money, escape or even love that will make you happy.

The good news is that the formula for happiness is easy. The bad news is, it’s hard work.

“To be happy you basically have to do what you’re good at and you have to work hard at it. That’s it,” says Patrick Finn, associate professor in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. “Happiness is deep and connected to meaning and effort. It has to be meaningful and there has to be effort.” 

The trick, says Finn, who has lectured on the topic of happiness, is to find an area you’re really drawn to — something that “makes your heart sing” — as opposed to something you think you should do. “What often happens is we get the idea that work should be terrible and a struggle and horrible, so you should just get used to that. Instead, it’s about working to feel good about what you’re doing,” says Finn. 

Hundreds, maybe hundreds of thousands of positive psychology books chart the way to happiness through positive thinking and though that’s a nice way to while away the afternoon, to be really happy you have to find your “way of being in the world” and contribute from there, says Finn. 

“The idea is you should work so hard at it that your muscles are sore from it, but not so sore that you can’t get up and do it again tomorrow.” 

Wait, you say, I don’t want to work, I want to chuck everything and move to the beach. That won’t do it, says Finn. Happiness isn’t about abandoning things it’s about “finding your place and serving from there.” As for hoping to win millions in the lottery ... “Quite famously, when we look at the stats, winning the lottery has a negative impact on happiness,” says Finn. 

So, forget buying those lottery tickets, roll up your sleeves and get to work on being happy. —J.A.

 

How to be Happier: Buy Some Time

Although money can’t buy happiness, it turns out that money can buy more time, which leads to more happiness.

A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America showed that “buying time” by paying for helpful services did more to promote happiness than buying material objects. 

So, instead of spending your limited free time running around town tending to your never-ending to-do list, take advantage of Calgary’s plethora of mobile and delivery services. The sheer number of time-saving services available in the city just might be an indication of how willing we are to dole out our cash for a bit of extra time. And, as a side benefit, you won’t be spending your money filling your home up with items that you’ll just have to KonMari later. —K.K.

Read more about what mobile and delivery services are available in Calgary.

 

How to Get Fit: Box Your Way to Strength

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: no one is suggesting you step in the ring and get the stuffing beat out of you in the name of getting fit. Rather, what we’re talking about is instructor-led classes that use basic boxing manoeuvres (jabbing, ducking, uppercuts, fancy footwork and the like) in a high-octane workout of calisthenics, push-ups and planks. If you want to hit people, ask the guy in your office with two black eyes about where to go for that club that you’re not supposed to talk about. But if you want to get lean and ripped and develop the reflexes of a panther, then boxing fitness is right up your alley.

At Undrcard, a boxing studio that opened its doors in December 2016 (on Boxing Day, naturally), the standard class experience takes place in a room full of heavy bags suspended from the ceiling — participants sign up for a bag and use it for the duration of the class. Real leather boxing gloves are necessary and on hand to use free of charge, though participants must purchase their own hand wraps to wear underneath the gloves. Newbies need to arrive early enough to learn how to wrap. 

Once you’re wrapped and gloved and bagged, that’s when the good stuff starts. The DJ pedigree of Undrcard co-owner Joanna Majcherkiewicz (a.k.a. Joanna “Majik”) is evident in the dimly lit, night-clubby vibe and booming PK Sound system in the workout space. As for the boxing, you can go through the motions, or you can wail on that bag with all you’ve got, which adds a stress-busting element to the whole endeavour, not to mention a serious endorphin high when it’s all over and done. No worries if you’ve got noodle arms and look like you couldn’t beat an egg; the disco lights and throbbing beats make everyone feel like a contender. —S.A.

 

3 Boxing Fitness Studios To Try

Rumble
720 17 Ave. S.W., 587-352-7625, rumbleboxing.com, @rumbleboxing

The Sweat Science
1406 9 Ave. S.E., 403-998-6129, thesweatscience.com@thesweatscience

Undrcard Boxing Studio
349 10 Ave. S.W., 587-356-3779, undrcard.com@undrcard

 

How to Look Your Best: Finding Great Clothes

The quest to perfect your wardrobe starts with understanding which stores carry clothes that will fit your body best, says B.R. Pirri, a fashion stylist with the Style Concierge program at Southcentre and campus manager at The Fashion Institute by Olds College. She recommends using a stylist service like hers to help navigate the overwhelming number of stores out there. “Work with someone instead of wandering from store to store and getting frustrated,” she says.

Another of Pirri’s tips is to have a flexible approach to sizing. “We don’t all fit into one box. So when you’re shopping, please don’t have a size in mind, because you could have the most amazing shopping experience if you’re not married to a number,” she says.

Although online shopping is becoming increasingly popular, Kara Chomistek, personal shopper at Bankers Hall and the president of PARK (an organization that promotes and celebrates local designers and retailers), agrees that actually visiting the stores and interacting with style experts in person can really improve your look. Many local boutiques have their own personal stylists in-store to help shoppers choose what will look best for their coloration, body type and confidence level Chomistek says.

Both Southcentre and Bankers Hall have done free events where anyone can come and hear from experts about everything from new collections to how to pull off the latest trend.

Chomistek says locally, fashion is edging toward taking more risks, and recommends pushing beyond your comfort zone. Mixing unorthodox textures and prints is trending this winter and people often find perfect pieces by “taking the plunge.”

“It’s definitely an era of confident dressing,” she says. —J.F.

 

How to Look Your Best: Reveal Healthy Skin

Being the largest organ in your body, your skin reveals and impacts your overall health. When your skin looks healthy and young, it’s likely that you look and feel healthy, too.

Angela Robertshaw, managing director of Vive Rejuvenation, says that healthy skin starts with preventing damage, by using sun protection and incorporating vitamin C and antioxidants into your daily skincare regimen. She recommends a new product by Vivier Pharma called GrenzCine Serum, an eye cream with antioxidants and vitamin C that hydrates the skin and stimulates regeneration in the cells, making it look plumper and younger. 

Catherine Lubitz, operations manager at Art of Skin in Canmore, recommends using mineral sunscreens, such as TiZo, which offer sun protection without the risk of irritation from the chemicals in SPF sunscreens. The minerals act as tiny mirrors reflecting UV light off the skin. Mineral sunscreens also last longer than chemical creams. 

For sun-damaged or aging skin, both clinics offer treatments to help restore collagen and diminish sunspots. Robertshaw says some of these types of treatments take time — both for post-treatment recovery and to start to see results — so a little research and preparation is recommended. “Don’t be afraid to do some consultations and get a feel for different clinics to find out what might be the best fit,” she says. 

A popular treatment at Vive right now, says Robertshaw, is the PICO Genesis treatment that reduces redness and sun spots while simultaneously tightening the skin. The non-thermal treatment uses sound waves, which means no recovery time, making it easy to work into a busy lifestyle.

Art of Skin, which specializes in medical treatments, offers a trichloroacetic acid chemical peel, which removes pre-cancerous cells caused by sun damage, lowering your risk of developing certain skin cancers, while reducing fine lines and improving skin texture. “You’re going to see a brand new, brighter complexion,” says Lubitz. —J.F.

 

How to be More Successful: Know Yourself

There may be as many different forms of success as there are people who want to be successful. 

But whether it means nabbing that big promotion, nailing that personal best or staying sober for another day, the path to success always starts at the same place — knowing yourself. 

“Self-awareness is absolutely fundamental to betterment because it’s the only way to evaluate your actions and hold yourself accountable,” says Mark Tewksbury, Olympic gold medalist and co-founder of Great Traits, a corporate training and development company.

Tewksbury’s own idea of success has changed over the years, from swimming his way to gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympic games, to advocating for gay rights, to becoming an entrepreneur and a sought-after speaker. “There are basic things that are part of the formula for success, such as being able to set a goal and write it down, but all of that is dependent on knowing what you want,” says Tewksbury. “And that requires self-reflection and holding yourself accountable to getting there which, again, requires self-awareness.”  

This whole getting-to-know-thyself thing can take a little work. We can be distracted by access to endless information, billions of dollars of marketing in our faces on any given day and what our friends are doing on Facebook and Instagram. While those highly curated and perfectly art-directed social media posts may motivate some of us to define what success looks like — power lunches in a power suit at the power job — they can pollute other people’s quest for what they really want (say, making artisanal mousetraps in the garage).  “We live in such an intense reactionary period in history that it’s really difficult to just map out time to reflect on what you’re doing,” says Tewksbury.

Once you define what success looks like for you, give yourself a reasonable schedule to get there. Some goals are short-term, such as cleaning out the spare room to turn it into a home office. Others, such as building a business, take more time. “Maybe you’re looking four years ahead, and the place to start over the next six months is keeping your job and taking a night class to start to build skills,” says Tewksbury.

Regardless, the first step to success is walking up to the mirror and taking a good, long, hard look. —J.A. 

This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here. 

 

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