When my friend J came over the other day, he told me something I had never heard before.
“You live a curated life”, he said.
I had never thought of my life or anybody else’s life that way. But I love the idea. Since his visit I’ve been thinking that curating is such a beautiful way to think about our lives.
In the same way that a curator in a museum or an art gallery chooses the most appropriate works of art to show, all of us can choose the most appropriate items, places and people to show up in our lives.
The art curator never chooses junk and neither should you.
Choose the best of everything for your life. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. In fact it might be cheaper than having a lot of junk around.
Want to live a curated life? Try these 6 things. To me, these are important elements in curating your life.
1. Eat the best food. No junk food. That means no potato chips, no fast food. Less meat. As America author Michael Pollan writes, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
I gave up soft drinks and McDonalds years ago. If I eat a steak, it gives me a headache. Why would I want to eat something that I know is not good for me? I recently went for a health check and my cholesterol went down twenty points in two months. I was thrilled.
Think about where the food comes from too. I stay away from fois gras and shark fin soup. I don’t want those ducks fattened up because of me. And I don’t want those sharks stripped of their fins and made to fend for themselves. Ditto for buying stuff at Walmart. I hate the way they treat their employees, so they are not going to get my money.
2. Live in A Place That You Love. Live in a city that nourishes you. One that has the kinds of events and places you live to visit. One friend from my grad school days lived in a a very conservative town for more than twenty years and couldn’t wait to get out of there. He finally left, but for twenty years he suffered and lived just for his vacations.
It’s true that with the internet, you can find almost everything on your computer. But it’s not the same as the real thing.
If you like symphony, be sure there is one close by. I love movies and I’m glad that I can walk to a couple of movie theatres near where I live.
Choose an apartment or home that you are happy to come home to. Ditto for hotel rooms too. No need to stay in a dump even for two days just to save money
3. Make Your Home Your Palace.
Get rid of the junk and the clutter. Have a comfortable sofa that you can sit on. A dining room table that is not stacked high with crap. You are the one who should be eating on the best dishes. Don’t save them for visitors. And don’t eat on paper plates either.
You don’t need a lot of furniture, but you should have stuff that supports your lifestyle. We love our balconies and spend a lot of time out there-eating, talking, playing with our dogs. Our outdoor furniture gets a lot of use.
Put some art on the walls too. I don’t say this just because this post is about curating or because I also own an art gallery. I say this because I firmly believe that art makes your life better. It helps you be more creative and happier. When you come home, you are greeted by art that makes you feel good.
Plants help too. I love my cacti and we have a bunch of them on the balcony.
4. Choose Clothes That Look Good On You.
Choose clothes that are colorful, that put you in a good mood.
Get rid of the crap in your closet that you never wear or the stuff that does not fit any more. Every time you move–to a place you love–throw stuff out, or give it away or sell it on ebay if you have the time.
There’s no reason for you to wear clothes that are too tight or too loose or to wear shoes that cause you pain or are never shined.
Look good and you’ll feel good. Curate your wardrobe. And if you don’t have any sense of style, ask a friend for help. I don’t have a great fashion sense, so I ask H for help.
I turn away when I see people my age wear shirts that don’t cover their bellies or pants that hang down so everyone can see the crack in their butt.
5. Get Rid of the Jerks In Your Life.
There’s no reason in the world to hang around with people who you don’t like or you don’t trust or who do not value you. Surround yourself with the best people. Get rid of the jerks and good people will find you. This may take a while and you don’t have to take drastic action, but you should be with people you want to be with. That means saying yes to some and more importantly, no to others.
The main reason I got a book deal is that I found myself the best editor and the best agent. I once had worked with an editor who didn’t like my writing. Why, I wonder, did I work with her? When I got rid of her, I found someone much better.
Same for relatives and friends. Don’t spend time with those that you don’t like. Yes, this includes Thanksgiving and Christmas too.
I’ve let friends go who were perfectly nice, intelligent people but they were unreliable or stuck in the past. One guy always took out pictures of his ex-boyfriends and showed them to me, as if they were still with him. He never could move on, but I finally had to.
The same goes for clients of our gallery. We really do choose our customers, just as they choose us. We want people who can appreciate what we do.
6. Do What You Love.
No need to suffer in a job you hate. Time really is all you have, so fill it with what you like to do. Yes, you need to make money.
But if the work you do or the way you do it is robbing you of energy or integrity, it’s time to make some changes. I meet people here in Tokyo whose schedule is full with so many meetings, I am surprised they ever have time to go to the toilet. They’re always busy, but they act as if they have no power to change.
If you like to read, read. Do whatever you love and whatever brings you joy. Yes, there are some things you have to do and may not love, like going to the dentist, or washing the dishes or ironing. But you can think of these things as taking care of yourself and grow to love them too.
Try these 6 Things. Start Today. When people ask you what you’re up to, you can tell them you’re curating your life.
The best people will understand what that means.
And if they ask what that means, you can say that ” you’re living”.