dance_with_life

The quality of my life has improved since I moved to a village. I adore the space I have now.

One of such offerings is a big garage. But even such a garage can easily be filled in no time. And, indeed, our garage has imperceptibly become a land of stock and stuff.

Not on purpose, of course, but merely as a result of our careless storage.

The garage has not called for an immediate attention, so it has patiently waited for its turn.  I’ve had more pressing issues to handle for months. It has gracefully stored everything needed and not, or perhaps needed-one-day-in-the-future, islands of old articles, heaps of papers, buggies, tables, chairs, car seats, garden equipment,  paints, tools, toys, boxes and whatever you will think of – surely we have had it there.

It was a mess.

The cleaning of the garage was on my to-do list as a some-day project. And perhaps it would have stayed there for a long time, but there was a sudden call for action.

While we were away, the garage was flooded by unexpected heavy rains. As a result, on return I was welcomed by unpleasant smell, rotten card boxes and damaged stuff.

“OK, I’ve got it now. No more excuses.”, I said to myself.

I decided to clean the garage.

“Easier said than done”, I thought.  The mess was truly overwhelming.

I was standing there in the middle and feeling the heaviness of the space filled with stuff. I heard a cry for order. The things were not happy, to say at least. However, instead of having a clear plan of action, my thoughts were cluttered and foggy as if in response to the disharmony around.

I had no idea how to start and how to end. I had no clear sense of direction of how to sort things out. It was too much stuff everywhere in all sorts of shapes, sizes and condition. And I felt small, overpowered and tensed by the task. Yet, it had to be done….

I decided to shake these feelings off. I took a few deep in-breaths followed by long out-breaths. I slowly started to relaxed.

“Let the dance begin”, I’ve smiled to myself.

“I need the space back”, I thought.

 I decided to take the stuff out.

“But … hey … I am in a dance.” I’ve reminded myself.

“I like the free-style.”

So, instead of a dedicated effort to move things out,  I took a series of seemingly unrelated or even distracting small steps. From the same dance, of course 🙂

As with dancing, I needed to warm up, with various exercises first. In doing so I gave myself the possibility to both feel and appreciate the space and surroundings. I wanted to feel the dance floor, as you can imagine 😉

I was moving out the bulky items and the small ones, both in collections and individual ones. At the same time I was introducing other steps. For instance, when I discovered a few garden tools I had been desperately missing for some time (that I knew were there but had no idea were), I choose to collect them all in one place first. There was no logical order of moving things out, but inspired by what I thought was compelling to focus on at a given moment.

The moving-out steps were easily interlaced with floor sweeping ballet, re-packing and sorting hip-hop, gracefully jumping over the rooms and collecting new members for the garage, and some lovely speed-ups with the kids playing outside.

Such an approach is certainly unusual for me. When I set to do a task such as cooking or cleaning the house I simply do it. Now, I’ve set myself to a creative (even if chaotic) dance. What did cause the difference? Well… I usually know what to do and how to do it. I have a vision. Now, I had no idea but the motivation for a clean and neat space.

The challenge of garage un-messing was new, or at least very different from my usual undertakings.

There was a hidden structure in my free-style dance. For an outside observer I would have been randomly jumping from a task to a task. For myself, I have acted in response to the moment following the natural choreography that has slowly revealed itself.

After some hours, I’ve finally arrived at a place of space. The bulk of the stuff was outside.

I was again standing in the garage in the appreciation of such a big storage space. Even though I still had no clear vision for order, the insights were there. I’ve paid attention to the sorts and kinds of stuff so I’ve slowly gathered the impressions.

I decided to place the most bulky yet not-to-be-moved items first so that they could define the space in a solid way. Then, I decided to place the opposite – the stuff that would often be in and out such as kids bikes or garden equipment. Finally, I was left with a vast land of stuff of varying sizes and heaviness.

In creating the space for all these items I’ve pre-classified them based on purpose and I was dancing some of them away towards garbage or donation boxes (to be taken to a recycling center and charity shops). The dance has continued but now it was fast paced. I was moving, shifting, holding, pushing, repacking and re-boxing things around. The space was there and I had the freedom to move as I wished.

Every number of steps I made myself stop to feel the space again and the overall surroundings. When I recognized any discord I repeated the parts of the process of moving, shifting, holding, pushing, repacking and re-boxing. Whatever was needed.

The hours flew fast and I arrived at the final result. I was pleased with it. The garage has become a welcoming and very spacious space. The stuff found their new places in friendly neighborhoods. The light came in.

“I’ve done a good job” I thought.

***

The whole dance of space creation was a pleasant experience in contrary to what I anticipated from a tedious task of moving bulky stuff and getting dirty hands.

What is the moral of the story?

When faced with new, uncomfortable challenges, be it a serious disease of your child, a threat to loose a job, a big loss, an accident or a serious injustice, choose a dance approach. The conditions of your challenge are the music but it is your style and your moves that matter.

You need the space, the feel of the music and environment, the freedom to move and the dancing steps. It will make a difference.

Create the space first. This can be done in small steps by either creating it in a physical environment or in a mental/emotional one. Perhaps you need to reorganize your office, shift stuff around the house or clean the garden. Or, perhaps you need a mental space created through relaxation such as a walk in a park, climbing mountains, a long bath, volunteering help, or a good book. Or, perhaps you need to create an emotional space by letting flow the emotions freely through a physical exercise, cry and talk, reflection or a deep tissue massage. 

Every tension is contraction. Contraction means the space is restricted and confined.

Every relaxation is expansion. Expansion means the space is abundant.

Be present. Feel the situation, the circumstances and the environment. Hear the music. It is by probing, taking small actions and experiencing the responses, you will begin to feel the way forward.

Take the natural steps. Make them in the direction that feels natural. Learn about the problem, the circumstances, the disease, the people, the negotiations, the skills or whatever needs to be dealt with. Dance freely. Interlace your learning, thinking and doing with other activities or aside tasks. Take a day off. Go hiking. Rent a boat. Do a bungee jump. Reset.

Your mind needs to digest the information and experience without your inner control freak. This is possible when you begin to feel the in-and-out rhythm. The out is necessary for progress.

***

Breathe.

Expand.

Be present.

Dance.

***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

Digital clutter

How do you navigate in the digital Universe?

We live in the time of really big data. Huge. Humongous.

Only the year 2011 was estimated to have produced 1.8 zettabytes of data, which is 1.8 x 1021 bytes of data. You can read about this here. More data is being created this year. The prediction is that by 2020 the amount of data is going to grow by 50 times.

Some media statistics found on the Web claim that:

It took radio 38 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took TV 13 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took PC 8 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took Facebook 3 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took ipod 2 years to reach 50 millions recipients.
It took Google+ ? months to reach 50 millions recipients.

As you see our technological progress has been super fast in the recent years. See also this post for additional mind blowing statistics.

The data

There is the data produced on the Web. What you need to realize, however, is that the majority of the data is not the content that you read, watch or listen to: text, images, movies or music, but the data supporting the content.

For every piece of the data you create online there is often the double (or triple) amount being stored. This includes details about content management, style and formatting, your system setup, data characteristics, favorites,additional images, discussions or comments, etc. On the top of that we need to add the necessary data backups, or the same or nearly the same information stored by multiple users in multiple locations.

In addition, there is rehashed information, slightly rewritten or reformatted, retweeted, pinned, liked and so on, not even mentioning 2000 spinned articles created for each individual article but submitted to different article directories. Such is a path of SEO practiced by some bloggers, marketers or entrepreneurs.

Lots of content is repeated multiple times in a slightly transformed or rewritten form. The same message is broadcasted in hundreds or thousands locations on the Web. We have already stopped taking care for the quality and novelty of the message, instead we are playing in the avenue of quantity. There is a pressure for constant publishing, chat, talk and messaging.

Digital clutter

Clutter is an emotional attachment to things in your life that not only stopped serving you, but also hinder your progress. Digital clutter is of no difference: it lives in your computer, ipod or ipad, on your cameras, CDs or DVDs, or on the Web.

Digital collections seem safe because they are not physically tangible. Yet, they take up your mental space a similar way your physical stuff does. They occupy your virtual space, limiting your freedom to move, act and think. They require your time for maintenance and make all other searches difficult.

Be it hundreds movies from your student times that you have nowadays no time or interest to watch, a music collection of thousands songs that you only listen to a tiny fraction of it, hundreds of unread emails, millions of images, pdf’s and other files downloaded while browsing the Web and stored all over the place, bookmarks to every site you ever visit and so on. On the top add thousands of people whom you follow at Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn.

Digital clutter puts a strong emotional burden on your shoulders, similarly as the physical clutter does. It exists and its existence is overwhelming. Clutter multiplies fast and soon you feel emotionally in debt to answer every email, every Facebook/Google+ comment and like what others say to you.

Strong emotions are tied up with clutter.These usually are

  • hope or disappointment (about the things you wanted to learn from the stored programmes and files on your computer but were never able)
  • nostalgia (about all good times, email exchanges, friendships and lovers, letters and photos)
  • frustration (about the things that constantly pile up for being done sometime in the future), or
  • depression (about the lack of clarity and sense of life cause by the overwhelm of stuff and false feeling of responsibility to do things).

“Hanging on to things is a way to avoid change… You’ve been anesthetizing yourself with things to create a false sense of stability; meanwhile, change is going on inside and around you all the time.”

Clutter busting, Brooks Palmer

Clutter may be a symptom of a hurt you and I are keeping inside, perhaps unaware of it.
Clutter may be a symptom of a decision or action that we avoid to take.
Clutter may be an excuse for a change that sleeps at our door.

Let us free ourselves.

When we clear our clutter, we clear our Spirit. We make space for creativity and inspiration to flow freely. In the newly created space, our intention seeds and motivation powers start to blossom.

Clutter-free

Clutter-free life begins with you and me. It starts with the recognition that there is digital or physical stuff that holds you or me back.

De-cluttering is a process. It is in fact a simple process. You review your possessions, one by one, and ask yourself “Is this serving me now?” If not, throw it out or give it away. Find a person who will be pleased to receive what you can give or find an organization which can make good use of your donations.

If you don’t know how to start, the Clutter busting book is of great help. It provides a psychological help on the level of motivation and action. Two citations below reflect that:

“The truth is, you are equipped with amazing discriminatory abilities, ready at a moment’s notice to distinguish between what is a waste of your time and what is valuable… We’re used to being told that we don’t know what’s best for us… use your innate clutter-busting apparatus.”

“You are already valuable! There is no need to prove anything…anything you own to impress others is a waste of your time. No one cares. The past is as insignificant as old dishwater. Only keep what reflects your life as significant in this moment.”

Value in the digital chaos

There is an abundance of ideas, articles, posts and news on zillions of subjects. And more zillions are on the way. It is impossible to follow even a fraction of all the things you are interested in. The Universe is structured, yet it presents itself as chaos.

Why is that so?

Because there is lots of clutter flying around, in the form of spicy, glittery, shiny or tasty information we are easily attracted to. And such an attraction makes us loose the laser focus we have for the tasks at hand. 

This digital clutter is being created by tons of tweets, news, messages, movies, songs or rehashed information, either carelessly or unthoughtfully spread around by devoted digital space travelers, or repeated on purpose by entrepreneurs or corporations. The latter may serve them as a marketing tool, branding or working towards personal gains. Just because we can share something, it doesn’t mean we should. Similarly, as we shouldn’t follow all the wants we have.

How can you find value in the digital chaos?

My view is that the value starts with us, you and me. If we want to find value in our lives we need to make choices and become selective. The same holds for our existence in the digital Universe.

However, before we are able to make informed choices, we need to freely explore multiple galaxies, planets, travels and structures in this Universe. This is necessary to gain experience, or “touch and feel” about the Universe. This may include exploration of various social media tools, Web programs, forums, discussions, news, newsletters, blogs, short movies, online shops and so on. Samples are sufficient, though.

When we couple such visits with our interests and intelligent search, soon we are able to disregard the majority of tempting tools, ideas and information. This means signing off from the things that don’t serve us. And it also means freeing ourselves from the social and emotional pressure of keeping up with the digital messaging and talks.

I believe that the clearer and more structured we are in our minds, the easier it is to find clarity in the digital Universe around. Clutter-free mind is perfectly capable of finding or recognizing the right information even on a far away digital planet.

Clarity begins with us, you and me

If you want to find structure in the digital chaos, be the one who spreads valuable messages and articles. Choose to be more with less.

Any time you want to write a post, share an information or a message, retweet, comment or discuss anything, just ask yourself

“Is, what I am going to share, useful to others?”

“Is is entertaining?”

This is the ultimate criterion: usability/practicality of the message or the entertaining value.

If the answer is NO to both – think twice, or even three times, whether you want to contribute to the digital clutter around. 

The cleanness begins with you and me. We are responsible for the friendly, beautiful and clean environment, be it digital or not. 

***

Other clutter-related posts:

***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

needs_and_wants

 

Your distinction between needs and wants determines the quality of your life. It may lead as far as the difference between mediocre and remarkable.

Needs are the essential or necessary things that support your well-being. On all levels.

Wants are of two kinds. The first kind are your long-term intents and deep desires.These are of significant importance but are not the subject of this post.

The second kind of wants are the momentary impulses to satisfy your greed for pleasure or status.They run on an instant gratification principle.

You can not only survive, but thrive on much less

We buy stuff because we want it. We buy more stuff because we want it. And then, we buy even more stuff. Soon, our lovely stuff becomes clutter.

Of course, many things are useful. They enrich our lives, add convenience, entertainment or fun (or at least a possibility for these), but overall they are not the most important things.

The truth, easily forgotten, is this. You can survive on much less than you currently do (unless you are very, very poor). Even more, you can finally thrive when you focus on your basic needs and make space for growth in your life.

You don’t need the many things you buy or use. These are your wants. Your instant reward for pleasure, worth or status.

For instance, if you have internet at home, you can perfectly cancel your TV subscription and follow the most important news only.

You can choose to drive a second-hand car or use public transport. Even better, you can commute by bike. In the end, the car is your means of transport and usually your liability.

You may stop buying sandwiches at work and prepare your own lunch at home. You may stop buying coffee and start drinking water and herbal teas instead. You may stop indulging in smoking or alcohol.

You may buy moderately-priced clothes instead of fancy designs.

You may rent a smaller apartment than you currently have.

Do you need to buy the latest ipad just because it is there? Surely, it is cool to play with the newest technology. It is fun. But, do you really need this? Unless your job depends on being up-to-date with the latest technology – let’s face it – a new gadget is your want.

Note: I am not advocating to cut your spending for the sake of saving money. It makes sense, of course, but concerning your finances, a more efficient strategy is is to earn additional money aside.

My point is different. Surviving on less is about essential needs and conscious practices that make space in your life, be it physical, mental or emotional, so that you can gain clarity and focus on what is the most important. It is also about the awareness behind the choices you make or impulses you follow.

Happiness and stuff

It is an illusion that the abundance of possessions will give you true happiness. Possessions have to be handled and maintained. They require attention, care, time, energy and money. They will make you either very busy to the point of exhaustion or make a mess of your life when you become a stuff collector. Happiness does not depend on how much you own to impress others, but actually on the quality of living in the now.

If we consider the feeling of happiness as the function of the amount of stuff you own we will observe a specific behavior, following the curse of dimensionality principle in statistical learning or rational decision taking. Initially, with the increase of possessions you become happier until you reach a point where the reverse trend begins. Then, the more you own and maintain, the less happy you become. Why? Because you have all the stuff or possessions you may want but hardly any time to enjoy them.

Surprisingly, this saturation point is not as high as you would imagine. Stuff multiplies super-fast and occupies any room it finds.

Why do we buy stuff?

We buy stuff because we blindly follow the instant gratification principle and/or we accept consumerism as the working model of reality.

Instant gratification vs delayed reward

Instant gratification is the satisfaction you gain from impulse behaviors. When something appeals to your senses, be it beautiful clothes, a fancy handbag, great climbing shoes or the newest smartphone, your natural response is to want it.

You see a delicious cake, you want it and you eat it. You feel like having the fifth cup of coffee. You want it and you drink it. You see the newest ipad. It is even thinner and slicker in the design than you imagined. You want it so you buy it.

Wait.

Wanting a thing and wanting it badly now is the key characteristic of toddlers and preschoolers. It is the time window, between one and four, where the emotional-cognitive brain is being hugely developed. The verbal-intellectual brain (neocortex) will begin a fast development only around the age of four.

Children at the preschooler age are emotionally very expressive, going from a perfect laughter to a total frustration in a split of a second. There are battles of wills, stubbornness and tantrums about the things they want to have now or their way. They are learning to experience and handle their emotions. They have not yet developed a time perspective, not even mentioning any reasoning ability (to be developed much later). Emotions are in the moment and they need to be expressed excessively.

Any conclusions from this?

Delayed reward

It is possible to teach preschoolers simple ways of waiting before you turn your attention to them. Similarly, it is possible for us to practice patience. Persistence and ability to delay gratification are the antidote for getting out of debt and taking care of own financial future. They are a must-have qualities of conscious people: happy, fulfilled and successful.

Concerning the aspect of delayed gratification, the most famous experiment is perhaps the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment studying the impulsiveness of four- and six-year old children at a nursery.  The kids were offered either a single marshmallow or two marshmallows if they would wait for some time. The experimenter told the children that he had to leave for a while. The children could choose to eat the marshmallow immediately, but if they waited for him to come back before eating it, they could eat two marshmallows instead.

Some children ate the marshmallow immediately, but many attempted to wait for the extra reward. Of those, one third was rewarded with the second marshmallow. Not surprisingly, age was a major determinant.

The same children were tested 10 years later and while entering the adulthood. The ones who ate the marshmallow immediately were compared to the ones who were able to delay gratification. The later group described more competent adolescents who also scored better academically. An additional study in 2011 shows that such characteristics remain for life. See the article here.

In short, the conclusion from these and related articles is this. Instant gratification is related to people who tend to be stubborn, impulsive, easily overwhelmed, prone to stress and jealousy with a low self-image. On the contrary, delayed gratification is associated with people who are assertive, self-disciplined, dependable, eager to learn, able to cope with disappointment and frustration and more competent academically.

If you want to apply delayed gratification to your life, learn how to practice patience and self-discipline.

Consumerism

We have subscribed to the consumerism-based reality where consumption of goods is the central theme. It is a concept in which our worth or value is reflected by what we consume. The idea has repeatedly been broadcasted in media and by various companies and corporations for a long time. As a result, we have come to believe that it is what we buy and have that reflects who we are.

The philosophy is narcissistic in the sense that the primate emotional self is put on pedestal to be worshiped or satisfied. We buy things to feel good, to express ourselves or our personalities, to show off or reflect our importance, or to seek approval from others. We buy for pleasure, acceptance or status. We buy to belong. We buy to keep up with the peers, colleagues, friends, family and so on. We buy to look better than the neighbors. How pathetic is this!

It is quite common that women will go shopping when they are emotionally low, depressed or frustrated. New clothes, shoes or bags will often cheer them up. We have come to celebrate our life by spending money on goods. This is however unsustainable, as on average, at least in the USA and the UK, we spend much more than what we are making.

What do you really need?

Spend some time on this question.

What do you really need?

Your answers should relate to things that contribute to your long-term health, emotional and mental well-being and success. Begin to question anything you want to buy that cost more than, say, 25 GBP / EUR / dollars.

Think about your recent impulse purchases. Think about what happened in the moment of buying the thing and just before it. What was the trigger behind the purchase? How did you feel at that moment? What did you think at that time? How did you justify the purchase to yourself?

Identify the triggers in your mind and simply pre-program the desired action that should happen instead.

Find a way to distract yourself from buying or avoid the trigger from arising in the first place. Know your touch buttons and simply have a procedure in operation that saves them from pressing.

Play the scene in your head and choose a strategy that leads to non-buying.

You are ready for the next time.

A very short guide to buying stuff

  1. Repeat this mantra multiple times a day for a month: “Owning more stuff wastes my time and energy, creates hassle and takes me off track. I only buy what I need”.
  2. Pause before you buy small things. Are they really your need?
  3. If there is something above 50 GBP/EUR/dollars that you want to buy (different than your regular food or expenses), wait before your purchase. Wait a week for small things. Wait a month or more for big things.  Do you really, really need them?
  4. Pay cash.
  5. Invest the money you have not spent. Begin building your wealth: health, education or skills, relationships or assets.

In a month you will start to see the results.

***

A great book on consumerism is Spent by Geoffrey Miller. Read it and you will learn new things.

***

Photo credit Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

***

stuff

There is Stuff.

Stuff is all great things you bought, got, borrowed, subscribed to, created or inherited. You keep them in your life, in your head, in your body, in your wardrobe, in your house, in your car, at your work, on your computer, and so on.

Stuff.

Stuff is magnetic. It has this remarkable property that the more you own the more is attracted to.

Stuff.  More Stuff, please come.

Stuff collection begins slowly but it does not take long before it arrives in huge volumes. The growth curve is speedy exponential. Having some Stuff, you can surely rely on more in no time.

Stuff.

Stuff hates empty spaces. Very much. It occupies every little corner it finds. No space should be left alone. For sure, there is Stuff to fill it!

Free Stuff. Welcome to the Stuff Club.

Free Stuff is especially good at it. It loves to spread all over the space in the name of being Useful or Lovable.

We all love Free Stuff, don’t we?

Oh, Stuff! Your precious Stuff.

Food.
Clothes.
Shoes.
Toys.
Tools.
Books.
Files.
Gadgets.
Computers.
Phones.

Stuff. Your lovely Stuff.

Thoughts.
Emotions.
Ideas.
Creations.
Products.
Deliverables.

Stuff.

And then you need wardrobes, desks, shelves, furniture, and space to keep your Stuff. You need to collect it, sort it, shape it, clean it, organize it and move it around. You need the time to store the Stuff once and then you need even more time to maintain Stuff as long as it is there. You need to do it in your house, in your wardrobes, in your garden, in your car, in your head, in your body or at your job. Simply everywhere.

Stuff. Your lovely Stuff.

Of course, you can completely neglect this process and let Stuff occupy random places it likes, but you will soon stop living comfortably. Or you get nuts by being overloaded with your precious collections in all places.

Stuff.

How did it happen that you have become such a talented Stuff Collector?

Well… You’ve simply started to take pride and joy in owning Stuff.

Stuff. You own Stuff.

So you have Stuff. Lots of Stuff.

Interesting Stuff. Cool Stuff. Beautiful Stuff. Useful Stuff. Funny Stuff. Working Stuff. Broken Stuff.

Stuff in all shapes, forms and colors. And more.

Stuff.

You can show off with your Stuff. Only few have so much quality Stuff as you do, don’t they?

Stuff. Quality Stuff, indeed!

But…

Do you still have the time to enjoy life?

“I need you so much”, says Stuff.

Or do you spend your free time organizing, cleaning, or sorting your Stuff? Stuff asks for the attention, doesn’t it? It loves to be pampered. Oh, yes!

Stuff.

Stuff is attachment.

The more you posses, the less free you are to abandon old things and start new ones.

Stuff.  Of course, needed.

Some stuff is necessary.
Some stuff is useful.
Some stuff is nice.
Some stuff is valuable.
Some stuff makes life comfortable.

Yet, there is lots of Stuff you rarely use or need. Yet you keep it.

In hope. Just in case. Maybe. Perhaps one day… Or you have forgotten you had it or abandoned it.

Stuff.

Too much stuff becomes clutter and makes you feel stuck. In projects. In work. In life.

Stuff.

It starts innocently. One, two or three things are left where they don’t belong. Then a few more follow.

Stuff. A small pile of things.

And there is suddenly a pile of clothes. To be sorted, washed or ironed. Not to forget the new clothes you have just bought. To be placed in your wardrobe.

Stuff.

And there is a pile of books. To be considered, looked at or read. And of course you need an ipad/kindle to read your books on the go. To save the time you don’t have anyway..

Stuff. Another small pile of things.

And there is a pile of files in the computer. And a huge inbox of unread emails. To be read, thought over, edited or answered.

Stuff.

And there is music, movies, photos, presentations, texts, conversations, and so on. Huge amounts. You need extra mechanisms to store your Stuff, extra backup and storage discs.

Stuff. Yet another pile of Stuff.

And there is a pile of ideas. To be thought over, investigated and worked upon. Or abandoned.

Stuff.

And there is this negative chatterbox in your head. To be kept quiet.

Stuff. Wow, even more Stuff here.

And there is a pile of everything that fits nowhere, but is everywhere. Old pens, watches, paper clips, tapes, hard discs, CDs, cameras, screen monitors, etc.

Stuff.

And before you notice your precious Stuff slowly becomes clutter, preventing you from gaining clarity, maintaining focus and taking action.

Stuff. Flooded with Stuff.

Stuff is there in all places in various sizes and quantities waiting for your attention and handling. Stuff depends on you. And you depend on Stuff.

Stuff.

So, you are overwhelmed and paralyzed with inaction.Yet you know that the only way is to face your Stuff head-on.

De-Stuff.

De-stuffing is unavoidable. Yet, you hate it. But, no, no, no. No other choice is there, I’m afraid.

As you find the time to welcome your Stuff, you have to find the time to kick your Stuff out of your life, your head, your work, your home, your car and so on. It will not leave you otherwise. Stuff is faithful to death.

De-Stuff.

The best approach to de-Stuffing is to maintain it as a regular Process and make it as fun or interesting as possible (to play as a child).

De-Stuff.

Throwing away things that served us well may be painful. Yet, it has to be done to make the space for new ideas or things. As inflow is continuously at work, similarly outflow should be.

De-Stuff.

You need to establish clear rules and limits where and how Stuff enters your life. And protect yourself from Stuff.

De-Stuff.

Say goodbye to the old and unnecessary things in your life. Whatever it is which does not serve you any more.

De-Stuff.

Clothes. Shoes. Toys. Tools. Books. Files. Gadgets. Computers. Phones. Thoughts. Emotions. Ideas. Creations. Products.

De-Stuff.

Time is more precious than Stuff.

The more Stuff you have the more time it takes for its handling and maintaining.

De-Stuff.

So before you collect any new gorgeous Stuff, ask yourself whether you really, really, really need it. If not, let it occupy the space of some other passionate Stuff Collector. Not you, this time.

De-Stuff.

What do your prefer: live for Stuff or live to become?

My answer is simple. And yours?

De-Stuff.

Choose what matters: Clarity, Simplicity, Space, Focus and Clean Solutions.

Live Stuff free.

And you will stop being stuck.
 
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Recommended reading:
If you need a good motivation for de-cluttering, the Clutter busting book by Brooks Palmer is of great help. It will help you to understand how clutter blocks your progress in life. Organizing From the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern is a fantastic book that will help you to devise a system that works for you. Both highly recommended.
 

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Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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experience_flow

Be like a pond

There is a variety of bacteria, algae, plants, tiny creatures and fish that live in a pond. The overall health of this ecosystem is determined by the quality of water. Moreover, a healthy flow of water is necessary for a pond to stay alive. Healthy water supports life, has a proper ammonia level to keep both tiny creatures and fish well and is enriched with oxygen.

Moving water is therefore necessary. It causes the water to break into droplets, which can pick up more oxygen thanks to their large surface area. In addition, fresh water helps removing any decaying vegetation, which is important for the well-being of a pond.

What you want is to experience flow in the pond of your life

You need a regular inflow so there is no drought. You need fresh, moving waters which bring you more oxygen and support you in developing your ideas and taking action. You need a regular outflow so there is no flood and, moreover, the old material is being removed. You basically want moving waters of a good quality in order to support life.

What you want is

Flow.
Fresh waters.
Movement.
Change.
Excitement.
Progress.
Being alive.

Strive for the balance between inflow and outflow

So there are things you need to let go and there are things you need to take in.

  • You need to share your ideas and thoughts (outflow) and you need to collect information (inflow).
  • You need to teach (outflow) and you need to educate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to respect others (outflow) and you need to appreciate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to talk (outflow) and you need to listen (inflow).
  • You need to work to earn money (outflow) and you need to relax and rejuvenate yourself (inflow).
  • You need to give away your possessions (outflow) and you need to receive gifts (inflow).

Moving waters bring new ideas and new concepts to your life, but also new things. Moving waters also remove the old patterns and old habits that no longer serve you. They flush out all the things you no longer need. Such things are called clutter.

Clutter is all decaying material of a pond. It is there, has served a role, but is disturbing now. Moreover, if it stays there for some time, it will significantly reduce the quality of the water. This will stress your fish (big ideas or projects) and thus making them much more vulnerable and susceptible to disease. With fish illness, prevention is much easier than treatment. It is worth your effort to maintain a healthy environment of your pond so that all complex relations between living organisms (thoughts, ideas, feelings, projects, actions and rest) are supported.

If you want to experience flow in life, pay attention to both inflow and outflow. There are two main challenges here: accepting quality inflow on your personal level and organizing quality outflow, especially on the material level.

Take care of your quality inflow

The first challenge is to learn to appreciate yourself and enjoy spending time with yourself. It is about a life in balance, between work and relaxation, between action and inaction, between contemplation, ideas and application. It is about working on your healthy self-esteem and self-image.

Take care of your quality outflow

The second challenge is to accept quality outflow by removing clutter from your life. Take a challenge and get rid of 20% of the things you own but no longer use. You keep them because of sentiment or in hope that you will need them one day. It is very unlikely, though.  And even if this happens, you can probably do O.K. without them as well. If you really want to experience a great freedom in your life, give away 50% of your belongings.

Learn to give with joy.

Let the clutter out of your life

Inspect your cloths and give away 20% that you do not like, do not fit any longer or have not used for the last two years. Make a space. Let your wardrobe breathe.

Examine your collections of books, CDs, DVDs, magazines or papers… Get rid of 20% of them. Even better, get rid of 50% of them! Sell them. Find charitable organizations. Give them away.

Look at your bookshelves, tables, lamps, wardrobes and furniture. Get rid of chunky or non-functional pieces that you are not happy with.

Look at your old gadgets, cd-players, ipods, ipads, mobile phones, cameras, and so on. You do not use them any longer, while somebody else can. Give them all away.

Look at your laptops and computers. Do you need more than one? More than two???

Your children are likely flooded with toys. They will happily do with the 50% of toys that you leave. Bring some fresh air to their plays. Give 50% of toys away. Find some charitable organizations or individual children. And bring some joy to them.

Look closely at your relations. Are any of these toxic or dysfunctional? Perhaps some of them need to be removed as well.

Stop being in relationships that bore you, dis-empower you or bring you down. Discontinue them. Let them die with no regrets. Look for relations with people who support you or lift you up. There is too little time in life to get yourself to a web of dependencies that block your progress and diminish your possibilities.

Free yourself!

Dedicate yourself to removing clutter from your life. You will experience remarkable changes. Freshness, new ideas and new possibilities.

Be like a healthy pond. Experience Flow. Enjoy achievements. Support life. Have fun!

And … don’t give up.

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Photo courtesy www.martin-liebermann.de (zeitspuren), available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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