Category Archives: Realtionships

How to Find Peace Living With a Packrat

4 Strategies to live in peace, not war.Guest Post by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

Many people who try to simplify their lives and declutter their living spaces find that the most difficult obstacle in their quest for simplicity isn’t the clutter itself … but a significant other or roommate who isn’t on board the simplicity train.

Living with a packrat can be downright frustrating for many simplifiers.

Recently, reader Jasi asked:

“I live in a big house with tons of things, mostly my husband’s. He’s not on board with my lifelong minimalism and quest for a simple lifestyle. Damn shame I adore him so. Any suggestions for finding peace with a pack-rat?”

This is actually an issue that many people making positive life changes will face: they want to make changes, but others in their life don’t want to make the changes. If you have a spouse who likes to spend a lot but you’re trying to be frugal, or a spouse who eats fatty, sugary foods when you’re trying to eat healthily, it can be very difficult.

But there are ways to live in peace, instead of constant war, with a packrat. Let’s look at several strategies — and you should find the strategy that applies best to you.

Strategy 1: Win them over.
This is the strategy I’ve used with success with my wife, Eva, and it’s the ideal strategy, of course. I didn’t force Eva to join me in any of my changes, but partly because of inspiration from me, and partly because she’s a strong-willed person herself, in the past year or so she has joined me (or worked on her own) to eat healthier, exercise (for the first time in her life!), reduce clutter (it’s a blast!), become organized, and achieve her goals. I am extremely proud of her.

The strategy is to inspire your significant other to join you in your positive life change. You cannot change someone, or force them to change. You can’t nag or bully. However, here’s what you can do:

  • Inspire. Show them what a great thing this change is for you, how it has helped you and made you happier. Show them how much of a burden is lifted when you get rid of clutter, how simplicity is so much more calming and pleasing. Show them how excited you are about this.
  • Inform. Talk to them about what you’re going through, why you’re doing it, what it requires, how it makes you feel. Offer to give them some reading material, ask if they’re interested. If not, don’t force it on them. Just encourage. I have sent Eva links from time to time that she might be interested in, and she actually reads some of them. 🙂
  • Ask for help. Making a positive life change is always easier and more likely to be successful if you have support from a loved one. Be direct and ask your significant other (or roommate if that’s the case) for their help. Many times, people will give you help if you ask for it. Don’t make it seem like you’re trying to change them, but that you just want their help in making your change.
  • Make it a team effort. If they are open to the change, and want to read more about it, ask them if they’d like to join you. Sometimes, they will! Suggest that instead of you making this change alone, the two of you do it together, as a team. It can be great fun! Eva and I love decluttering together.
  • Be patient. Just because you’re excited about making a change, doesn’t mean your partner will be. You have to expect that — people move at their own pace. Just be encouraging, and months down the road, you never know — your partner might start to come around. Until then, don’t be negative at all if you can help it — negativity works against you.

Strategy 2: Zone defense.
If the first (and ideal) strategy doesn’t work, or at least hasn’t worked yet, and your partner or roommate refuses to join you in decluttering, work out a compromise.

A compromise is not ideal — compromises never are. But it can keep both of you sane, so you might give it a try: split up the house into zones. For example, the living room and kitchen might be yours while the home office and bedroom are theirs, or you might even have zones within a room. Again, not ideal, but it’s workable, and I’ve heard of people doing this with success.

Within your zone, you are free to do with it what you want. Declutter, or hoard, it’s up to you. Decorate it how you want. Keep it as clean or as dirty as you want. But no one is allowed to violate the other’s zone, and if you make a mess in the other person’s zone, you must agree to clean it up right away.

This can be a permanent or a temporary solution.

Strategy 3: Find Zen in the center of chaos.
This is much more difficult than the first two strategies, but I’ve also known people who have learned to use it: just learn to live with their packrat ways. Accept that you cannot change them, but that you love them, and just accept their clutter and mess.

It’s difficult, I know. It takes a lot of meditation, a lot of soul-searching, a lot of deep breathing. It may take months or years to learn this, but consider that if you don’t, you may lose your sanity. Accept what you cannot change, and change that which you can.

One way to live with this strategy is to ask your packrat loved one if you can declutter certain things, and keep their clutter hidden in cabinets. Then, you just need to worry about them leaving things around the house — if you don’t like it, you’ll need to clean up after them. If you can live with it, then don’t clean up.

If you choose this strategy, I suggest 1) doing some daily meditation or exercise to find your center of peace; and 2) having at least one corner of the house that is your own, that you can spend time in, reading or meditating or working, without clutter. Your little zone of peace.

Strategy 4: Ditch ’em.
This, of course, is the most drastic of the strategies and is strictly a course of last resort. There are times when two people grow apart, and their lifestyles and views on life and hopes and dreams are no longer compatible. In these cases, it could be beneficial to both parties if they go separate ways, especially if staying together causes more harm than it does good.

Now, I’m not recommending that you get a divorce. I would never recommend that — although I have heard of people who have done this because they can no longer live together (due to clutter and other issues). I think this strategy is usually more appropriate for roommates, as they don’t have the issues of a relationship and legal and financial ties to separate. But if things have gotten so bad that you are no longer happy in your relationship, you should consider all options.


Article originally posted as How to Find Peace Living With a Packrat: Wednesday, July 18, 2007

About the author:  Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has over 2 million readers. He generously shares his work ad-free and without copyright. – Please support his work through purchasing his Habit Mastery eBooks, courses, or programs.



Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash – Modified on Canva.







Five Ways Dogs Can Help Those with Mental Disorders

 Start with a dog ~ Ned Hallowell, M.D. Live a Happier, Healthier Life


For those living with a mental disorder, there’s a constant struggle to find healthy, natural ways to cope with life’s daily challenges. While mankind has known for hundreds of years that, for most people, the presence of a dog is a mood booster, we’re now learning that they can be so much more. Whether you take on a dog as a constant companion or interact sporadically with dogs in a therapy setting, man’s best friend can be an incredibly valuable tool in helping those with mental issues.

ADHD expert Ned Hallowell, M.D. echoes this advice for children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.  “I often urge people to start with a dog.  Dogs are the world’s best givers of love.  I’ve never met a dog I couldn’t love and who couldn’t love me back.  Dogs don’t fake it and don’t ask for anything in return.” “The force of connection, however you find it, is the most powerful force of healing that we have.”

Remedy for isolation

As NPR notes, “People with mental illnesses often see their social groups shrink and find themselves alienated from their friends.” Sometimes this is due to the stigma associated with their illness, and often it is by choice. It’s nobody’s fault, but those with mental disorders are more likely to suffer negative mental health effects due to loneliness and isolation. Dogs provide constant companionship without any hint of judgment.

Way to boost self-esteem

Dogs love their owners no matter what, and for those with mental disorders, that unconditional love can be just as effective as if it were given by a human. Not only that, but the National Alliance on Mental Illness cites research that says caring for a dog can help boost esteem by giving those with mental illness a task and a purpose. Those with mental disorders can find a confidence boost in the fact that they can take care of something.

Way to fight stress and anxiety

Anecdotally, dogs are known to have a calming effect on their owners. Scientifically, recent studies by the CDC have suggested that caring for a dog is associated with lower instances of anxiety—especially in children. People with mental disorders—from PTSD to autism—are way more likely to experience levels of stress and anxiety that they have a hard time managing. This stress can exacerbate their condition. While the presence of any calm, well-behaved dog is likely to have a positive effect, those with serious mental conditions may want to look into specifically trained emotional service dogs.

Way to stimulate social interaction

It’s generally accepted among mental health professionals that social interaction is a major key to happiness and overall well-being in all humans but even more important in those who suffer from a mental disorder (like we mentioned earlier, isolation is more prevalent among this group).

Dogs are a perfect tool for stimulating social interaction. Dogs need to be walked. They need to play at the dog park with other dogs. Dogs come with owners, and those owners are forced to communicate. This sort of lower-stress interaction can help improve mental health. For those dealing with mental illness, owning a dog is not always an option. One way to get to experience the positive benefits of dogs without the burden of too much responsibility is to get into dog walking.

Unavoidable impetus to get out and get active

Your dog needs daily exercise—any dog does. Not only that, but dogs thrive in open-air, natural settings. Dogs can give those with mental disorders the push they need to get out and get some exercise and fresh air. The benefits of exercise stretch far beyond toned abs and buff muscles. Physical exercise is a key component of mental health. By stimulating your brain and releasing chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin, you’re doing what you can to make yourself happy, and staving off feelings of depression.

By helping those with mental disorders feel less alone, not judged, loved unconditionally, and relaxed, dogs are one of the best tools on the planet for dealing with a wide range of difficult conditions.


Image courtesy of  Eric Ward on Unsplash

Modified on


About the author: Brandon Butler is a dog lover and vet tech. He loves helping pet owners by sharing advice on He enjoys writing about pet care and sharing the knowledge he’s gained as a vet tech.


ADHD affects everyone in the family. Here’s help

ADHD in the Family

Welcome to February,

In the Northwest, we’ve been luckier than others around the country this winter.  Although it’s been wet, our mild winter is already yielding to spring.  I’m already enjoying the hours of light lengthen each day and watching crocuses and other early bulbs emerge.

Hope good weather arrives soon for you as well.

ADHD in the Family: Working Together for Peace, Love, and Understanding

ADHD impacts everyone in the Family.  Understanding the complexity of ADHD and developing strategies for your home and personal life are important steps to coming to accept and deal with challenges.

This month, I have a mix of articles for both parents and adults. The first celebrates keeping peace in the family and love alive in your relationship.  Next is an extensive article I’ve been working on detailing the new perspectives on ADHD.  If you prefer watching videos to reading, I’ve included a few short clips that further expand on the topic. The final articles offer ideas you can tailor to fit your own needs, like using music to keep on task and decluttering your home and/or office. Hope you find some “treasures” this month.


"Being a member of a family with ADHD can be exhausting, nerve-wracking and absolutely frustrating. And I think what I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything. Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished."How I Fixed my ADHD Husband by ADHD coach Linda Walker

“What I found most frustrating is that I thought I had no control over anything.” “Once I learned that there were some things I could do to make life with ADHD better for all of us, the building process began and the frustration diminished.” (Note: Duane Gordon is the current President of ADHD for Adults)  

ADHD Grows Up: New Perspectives on ADHD

by Joan Jager

Attention problems, Hyperactivity and Distraction symptoms for diagnosis in childhood are just the tip of the iceberg. Many aspects of ADHD, especially in adults, are now better defined as developmentally delayed Executive functions and poor emotional control. Coexisting conditions or comorbidities further compound the issue.

This realization has been slowly changing how we understand ADHD and its expression throughout the lifespan(Article features a number of videos for further information. )

The Benefits of Music Therapy for Kids with ADHD by Charles Carpenter

Music helps with many challenges of kids with ADHD. Studying music can teach listening skills, patience and the ability to pick up on cues. Music can not only get one’s brain moving, but it also helps with psychical coordination.

18-5-minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering your Mess  by Leo Babauta

Out of clutter comes simplicity.  Baby steps are important. Start with just five minutes. Sure, five minutes will barely make a dent in your mountain, but it’s a start. Celebrate!


Take care of yourself and each other,

Joan Jager

ADD  – On Pinterest and Facebook


Photo credits:

Newsletter Title: (Photo courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhoto Facebook) Modified on Canva 

Crocuses (Photo courtesy of kookai_nak/

How I Fixed my Husband (Linda Walker with her husband Duane Gordon from Modified on Canva

ADHD Grows Up (Photo downloaded from Facebook – Credit unknown)

Music Theory for Kids with ADHD (Photo courtesy of Debspoon/

18 Five-Minute De-cluttering Tips (Photo by Idea go/