Lately, life feels like this:
Ever since I started the KonMari decluttering process a few weeks ago, everything feels lighter and brighter.
Dresser drawers have been cleared, bags of donations have been filled (still adding a belt here, a pair of shoes there), and more floorspace has been cleared for our toddler to use as a dance floor. (Current favorite songs: Beyonce's Single Ladies for grooving and Eric Clapton's Change the World for soothing.)
It's wonderful to walk into a closet full of clothes that I adore. But it hasn't felt like enough.
As beautiful as the physical changes have been, I'm just beginning to witness the real power of using my joy as a guide for my life.
So, I've been applying the slash-and-dash KonMari method of discarding to almost everything I can think of. And it feels like this:
The reason why takes me back seven years to a few months after my college graduation...
As my college friends and I transitioned from classrooms and futons to big banks and high-rise apartments, I noticed everyone accumulating more and more stuff: furniture, designer sunglasses, fancy travel-hacking credit cards, the latest smartphone. It never seemed like enough.
I wasn't immune to this, of course.
I bought myself a car and a work-ready wardrobe—but I stopped there. Because it didn't take long to realize that what my friends bought didn’t have much of an effect on their happiness.
One friend who has everything he could ever ask for (and more) has spent years wallowing in self-pity and the comparison trap, while another who just barely scrapes by greets every day as a gift and every obstacle with as much positivity as she can muster.
Not everyone is like this, of course, but these friends of mine helped me open my eyes to new possibilities.
Once I became aware of the disconnect between physical goods and happiness, it occurred to me that maybe I’d have to choose? A sick mental game of Would You Rather, perhaps. And when it came down to it, it’s easy for me to identify which of the two I’d prefer:
On the path to happiness, material goods aren't even on the map.
I love this particular passage from Seneca’s Letter from a Stoic:
"Suppose that [a rich man] has a retinue of comely slaves and a beautiful house, that his farm is large and large his income; none of these things is in the man himself; they are all on the outside. Praise the quality in him which cannot be given or snatched away, that which is the peculiar property of the man."
It isn't enough to declutter our material goods. If we're to be judged and loved and praised and held responsible for everything we hold inside, then it's time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
In loyal KonMari fashion, I'll start with the easiest stuff and work toward the more difficult parts of my life to “clean up.” Because I'm a good student like that. :-)
Decluttering that which cannot be given
1. Internet presence
Some would consider this a crime...
Well, an internet marketing crime that is.
For five years, I've been building up my list of email subscribers—people who've come across my blog and signed up to receive my new posts in their email inbox. After so much time, though, it's natural that some people fall away, due to a change of email address or a change in interests.
So, I logged into my email marketing provider (Mailchimp) and ran a search for people who haven't opened my last 10 emails. I then emailed those people asking if they still wanted to be on my list and gave them one week to respond. After seven days, I pressed the big DELETE button and—poof!—anyone who didn't reply with "yes" was gone.
My email list feels cleaner, full of people who I know want to hear from me, which gives me confidence and a sense of camaraderie.
This is a touchy subject. One that I've written about before. But I think it's worth mentioning again.
Every stage of life brings new people into our lives.
I have high school friends, entrepreneur friends, creative friends, mommy friends, writer friends, etc. And because I have all of these different circles to choose from, I've had the chance to be reflect back on how I best like to spend my time.
Here are some rules I've been putting in place lately (I know, "rules" sounds so harsh!):
- I invest my energy where it's reciprocated. If I'm constantly chasing someone down to catch up or hang out with little effort from them, I usually give it up.
- I like feeling better about myself, not worse. If hanging out with someone leaves me feeling worse off than when I walked in, I won't be looking to meet up again.
Here's a quote I love:
"Learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not."
— Henri Frederic Amiel
So, to all the "friends" who look at me funny because I don't run a perfect household, wear makeup to the supermarket, know how to properly wrap gifts, or always wear pants...
SORRY NOT SORRY. :-)
Everyone has baggage, and I'm definitely one of them.
For years now, all the books I've read and certain friendships have helped me move past a lot of it. But there's always more room to let go of things that aren't relevant to my life anymore and (especially) aren't helpful.
I've been doing my best to become aware of the unhealthy stuff going through my mind and then journal about where it comes from and how I can let it go. It isn't easy, but it's worth it. It's a big part of why my life has felt like a big high-five lately. :-)
What can you declutter?
Now that I've spilled my guts on my apathy toward material goods and the importance of working on what's inside each of us, I invite you to think about:
How do these topics fit into your own life? How do you feel about them?
What needs decluttering in your life—tangible or intangible?
What part of your life brings you most joy? How about the least?
Until next time! :-)