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.

 

more with less 

The mantra “be more with less” or “less is more” resonates perfectly with the idea of conscious living.

Not surprisingly, it has become one of the two challenges I work on this year. It is a huge challenge for me as my natural inclination is to elaborate, which usually mean to do more than less.

Over the years it has become clear to me that practising “less”: owning less, doing less and becoming less, is a necessary pursuit on the path of personal growth. “Less” coincides with the ability to choose. Consciously.

In this post I present three cases where less is more important than more.

Stuff

I grew up with the idea that “more is better”. I used to imagine how easy was the life of rich people, who were living happily with the abundance of goods. Yet, I knew that there was a limit to such happiness. As a child I was touched by a Greek myth about the king Midas. He was supposed to be a happy man – able to turn everything into gold just by touching. It seemed perfect in a while until his beloved one turned into a gold statue as well. Clearly, it was too much.

Even with this story in my mind, I still imagined the life was easy for wealthy people. Many years forward and I now understand how (too much) goods and stuff become limitation instead of liberation. The overwhelming stuff stops being enjoyable. Moreover, it becomes a hindrance for development.

A huge house surrounded by a large garden and a few cars may sound great but there is a hidden price to it. You need to take care of your large possessions. If you don’t do the daily/weekly/monthly maintenance, cleaning and repairs yourself, somebody else has to do it. And such services need to be supervised as well.

As a stuff collector, you need both space and place for your valuable clothes, shoes, toys, books, computers. technological gadgets, videos and other things. Stuff multiplies fast and needs extra maintenance.

Basically, more stuff means less of your precious time. This is the time you could spend in nature, relaxing, exercising, reading, learning or enjoying activities with your family or friends. Or whatever else you would choose.

More stuff = work + headaches
Less stuff  = breathing space + expanding mental space + creativity

Take the challenge.

I am not a minimalist and I don’t aspire to be one. But the overwhelming stuff makes me learn to say “no” before the new stuff arrives. Learn it too.

A good challenge is to get rid of 20% of your stuff: clothes, shoes, books, old gadgets and equipment, furniture and so on. You can denote these to a charity, sell on Ebay, give away or recycle. Possibilities are plenty.

An even greater challenge is to get rid of 50% of your stuff. You can perfectly live on less.

If you are nostalgic about your stuff because it holds precious memories, I have a great solution. Photograph your stuff, one by one and store the photos on a hard disc. Hold a picture of every thing in your mind, thank for the precious memories and set them free. Let the stuff start a new cycle of life.

Ideas

One of the breakthrough in my life concerned ideas. I used to think that great ideas were special and belonged to a few chosen ones. With time and experience I’ve understood it was not true.

Generating ideas is relatively easy. You can observe it in any brainstorming session. Ideas are simply shared and belong to the Common Space. We may paraphrase Plato to say that the ideas live in the Cave of Shadows and we simply discover them. Alternatively, we may say that ideas are inspired from God so they come from a single Source.

Yet, we often think that a particular idea is ours. It is both true and false. The idea is ours in the sense that it is proposed through us, but it is also not ours because it is not totally exclusive to us. Oftentimes the same or very similar idea it being proposed, discussed or executed by other individuals at the same time. This is particularly noticeable in science, but I’m sure that you can recognise this phenomenon in your daily life as well.

The consequence is this observation is far fetching. We merely discover ideas (and perhaps share them with others) but we don’t own them.

Such a concept is is a hard pill to swallow for some. They will guard their best ideas, tricks and practices with life. They want to keep the ideas confidential, hidden or patented as it is a common practice of some companies or corporations.

The point is this. There is abundance of ideas, thoughts, concepts and books, easily available. Just look over the internet and you will find a plethora of ideas. Free. How many of them have you executed?

The simplest ideas are often neglected or discarded, because they are either old or known. Nothing exciting in them. Alternatively, ideas are neglected because they require focus and discipline.

Isn’t that interesting that successful professionals thrive on simple ideas, perfected over time? Think medical doctors, engineers or researchers who constantly improve their solutions.

Isn’t  that interesting that the most successful brands describe narrow niches (=ideas)? Think Coke, SunwarriorBlendTec, Lexus, and so on.

Isn’t that interesting that successful companies offer either a limited choice of products or a limited and specific service? Think AppleEvernote37signals or FedEx. 

More ideas = confusion + procrastination + difficult choice
Less ideas  =  clarity + execution

Guard yourself from the flood of ideas. The more ideas around, the bigger the overwhelm and the harder the decision which one to execute. You may easily spend ages trying to find the best idea.

The truth is this: the best idea is the one which is implemented.Why? Because a direct experience will teach you much more than any thinking or reading.

Take the challenge. Limit the number of ideas to consider for any decision taking. Choose the most appealing one and execute it with devotion.

Time

We often think of time as if it was our resource. Yet, we can neither buy time nor generate it on request. Time is limited, yet we often live in an illusion that we have still plenty of time to do many things. This makes us careless with respect to how we trade our time (and effort) for money (call it job or business), or how we let the time pass.

When we look at people who suddenly discover that they may live one more year at most because of a terminal illness, we will often observe the following. After the initial shock, disagreement and rebellion, there comes a moment in which the person accepts his/her fate. There is nothing more to loose but everything to gain.

The time limitation sets the person free. He/she can now take actions and decisions which were perhaps postponed until some day in the future. Such people often spend their last months of life in the most active ways, renewing relations, repairing mistakes and following passion. Some become healed and continue such a practice for years.

Time is limited. If you knew you would die in a year, how would such a perspective have changed your life? Which decisions would you take today? Which job would you commit to? Which experiences would you choose? Which discoveries would you make?

While such a perspective may seem as too far fetched for some, think about time in a different way.

Your time is precious. There is no other today as this day. When this day is gone it will never return again. The challenge is to be the one you want to be and to do the important things.

When you give yourself less time for specific tasks and challenges, you will force yourself to become more creative in order to meet the time constraints. It may not work perfectly the first time, but you will become more resourceful when you use this strategy on daily basis.

More time = indecision + procrastination
Less time  = action + creativity + resourcefulness

Take the challenge.

  1. Every day determine your most important (one to three) tasks for the day, tasks which contribute to the growth and well being of yours or your family/friends. Commit to them with 100% effort. They really need to be done!  
  2. Use the Pareto rule and Parkinson’s law to do the most important things in less time.
 
 How can you become more with less? It is only through a conscious choice and dedication.
 
***
Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.
 
*** 

O.K., I admit the title is meant to be catchy, but nevertheless I want to share a useful insight. Although this post is somewhat lengthy, I encourage you to read on. This post touches the core issue of happiness.

Who are the unhappy people that you have ever met in life?

Pause for a moment. Think briefly about them. Who are they?

Got the answer?

If you have thought about a number of people, you may have noticed how different they are.

Perhaps some are mothers at home. Perhaps some are managers or CEOs in large corporations.
Perhaps some are jobless. Perhaps some are students.
Perhaps some are rich. Perhaps some are poor.
Perhaps some are losers. Perhaps some are winners.
So many times we have seen stars to rise and fall, those who had everything in terms of money or worldly success, yet ended up lonely and miserably.

Do they hope that they are going to be happy one day in the future? Or, do you regret or their lives in the past?

We seek happiness

We seek happiness in things, collections, or material possessions. But it only accumulates stuff.
We seek happiness in sport, business or academic achievements. But it only asks for more.
We seek happiness in a fast-paced professional carrier. But it only leads off the middle way (and the lack of balance).
We seek happiness in indulgence in food, drinks, sex, and so on. But it leaves us empty even more.
We seek happiness in kids, wives, husbands, partners, or a family. But it limits our personal development.
We seek happiness in the acceptance or recognition of others. But it supports our low self-esteem and makes us unable to think for ourselves.

The truth is this.

Happiness cannot be found in possessions, achievements, other people, relations or businesses. We are misguided by thinking that happiness is outside us. And if this or that happens, then we will become truly happy. Not true at all.

Nothing outside us will make us permanently happy. Ever.

Happiness is a state of being.

(For myself I thought that becoming a mother would bring me the highest fulfillment and the greatest satisfaction in my life. But this is not the case.

Don’t take me wrong here. I’m a happy mother. I love my kids deeply and passionately. Yet, becoming a mother has only opened more desires which were always there, but in a salient state. I want to be a great mother, and at the same time, I want to become much more.  )

Happiness is like breathing

Happiness is like breathing. It is joy that exists now, in this moment. It is a way of being. Being is expressed by breath, similarly as happiness is expressed by being.

Happiness is within your reach at this very moment. It is not about a mystical experience, neither meditation. It is not about the accumulation of rewards, achievements, friends or possessions. As everything in your conscious life, you become happy by choice. What you need to say and commit to is this:

“I choose to be happy NOW.”

The emphasize is on the Now.

That’s it. You don’t need to change. You don’t need to improve. You don’t need to become healthier, brighter or more skilful in order to be happy now. You don’t need to reach more peaks neither more goals. You don’t need to buy more stuff. You don’t need to have more friends. You don’t need to be older, wiser, or smarter.

You need to be yourself in the Now. Happiness is a side effect of this.

How to be unhappy?

O.K., the above reasoning likely sounds familiar to you. But … we have not touched the real issue yet. Here we go.

Let’s go back to the unhappy people in life. In my experience, all unhappy people I met were in one of the two categories:

  1. either strong worriers (worrying about their circumstances, family, job, money, payments, health, and future events)
  2. or, strong past dwellers (i.e. holding tight on the past hurts, disappointments, traumas or events).

My conclusion is this. What prevents you from being happy is that you don’t live in the current moment. Instead, you live either in the past or in the future.

Think about it.

The only time we can experience is Now. The moment in which you are reading and understanding these words. We only have this present moment. Nothing else.

Past is in your memory, while future is your imagination.

The metaphor of driving

Holding onto the past is as if driving forward by looking in the rear mirror only! You can’t anticipate what is coming before you. You cannot prepare for the bends, road bumps, traffic lights, sudden stops that are on your road. You cannot enjoy the wide perspective of the  scenic views ahead. You cannot respond timely when the action is necessary. Because it will take the time to refocus on your front vision and you will act too late.

Worrying about the future is taking your conscious attention (your laser beam Conscious Self) to the scenarios that you may experience one day, or likely never. This is like driving with your focus on what is a few-hundred meters away from you. Since you can hardly see what is there, except for a rough overview, you cannot really predict the actual traffic situation as you have too little time-related data, you cannot fully prepare for it. And in the meantime, while focusing on your projected future traffic ahead, you can be bumped by a car which is suddenly on your right but escaped your vision.

Do you follow me?

The only way to drive well is by being present in the moment. You focus on what you see in the front. At the same time, by using the far-reached as well as peripheral vision, you can fully anticipate what is coming ahead, from the left and right. And by using the rear windows you can see how the past is being changed and whether you need to take it into account now.

Take it as a metaphor for life. When you focus on the Now you also include sufficient views of the past and the future. It works.

The ultimate secret to happiness

We can now formulate the ultimate secret.

The secret to happiness is to live fully in the present moment.

Or in other words,

What hinders your happiness is the denial of (your participation in) the present moment.

Now is the only accessible point of power you have. This is your Operational Point, i.e. the point from which you can act. What you are feeling, being, doing, living in this very moment determines your happiness (or flow).

You may think about past or future as separate events. But this thinking or feeling, intuition or analysis happens now. As a result, you are evoking in your mind either the past or the future in this very moment. And in this way you take focus (say the light from your laser beam Conscious-Self) from what life is for you now to some aspects of life beyond your immediate control or influence.

Where does it lead to? Simply to a conflict between your direct experience of the Now that happens anyway and your conscious awareness that is thrown out of the present moment. So, your inner conflict between your here and now, where you don’t want to be, and your remembered past or imagined future, where you want to be makes you unhappy.

Nothing ever happened in the past. It happened in the Now. The past was once the Now.

Nothing will ever happen in the future. It will happen in the Now. The future will at some point be the Now.

Some ideologies, doctrines or systems work on the premise that there is a better, happier future for us. We only need to conform to a specific set of rules, follow this or that leader, live by a set of certain principles or follow this or that life-style. And then, some day, we will be happy. This is an illusion.

And I am reminded about this when I see the name of God in the bible “I am that I am” or when I read that “The Kingdom of God is within you” (or “among you” depending on the translation). God’s consciousness is about being in the present moment. As simple as that. Eternity is in the Now.

Waiting

Are you trying to get somewhere else than where you are now?
How many times did you look at your kids and wished they were at school instead of nursery?
How much as a child did you wish the end of a school year (=holiday) that had just started?
How much do you wish this meeting / project /work / task to be finished now?

Are you waiting for your life to happen? Are you waiting for holiday, the end of the season or the beginning of a new one, your kids to grow up, a new house to be bought, or a better job? Are you waiting to be discovered, to be smarter or more enlighted?

Waiting is a state of mind in which you focus on the projected future and deny the present moment. In doing so, you only anticipate the future and cut yourself from the chance of learning and enjoying the now. Waiting and anticipation for the better future to come is loosing your power of actually creating the very future you want in the now.

What is so magical about the present moment?

You simply cannot be unhappy in the present moment. If this sounds contradictory to you, just think about it. There is a moment of now, a split of a second, a tick on a clock, and in this moment, you either accept what is or you take an action. There is no other choice.

Your full concentration is on the now. And you actively participate in this now. This is the perception of the flow, hence the expression of happiness.

So, if you are present in the now, fully agreeing with what is or being in an action, then there is no focus left for you to worry about something tomorrow, 12 steps ahead or considering a guilt from yesterday, your childhood abuses or disappointments.

If you have ever experienced flow (being in the now), you know that it is impossible to have a problem in the Now. Problems are caused by perceptions from your Conscious Self dwelling outside your Operational Point. If you perceive a problem, it means you are living with a situation without holding an intention or possibility of taking the action now.

This all sounds good, … but where is learning from my past?

There is certainly place in the Now to learn from your past. You may temporarily choose to hold on the past to properly grieve about the loss in your life, be it a beloved family member, a friend, a dog, a job or something else. And I personally think that this is important.

The goal of such a grieving or going through the past events, however, is to live through the related experiences and choose to condense the great ones into the seeds of gratefulness. The goal is to hold memories about the joy, growth and happiness that these experiences have brought you. It is about practicing the memory of the heart.

What helps in this process is to look at a large scope, time-wise (months or years) or space-wise (hometown, country or a continent). The final purpose is to transform these experiences into the gratitude that you choose to cherish in the Now, or into the feeling of being blessed that you experience in the moment.

This all sounds good, … but where is planning?

Planning, goal setting or setting up habits have a unique purpose. If you think that planning or goal setting is only about future, you are wrong. The purpose of goals and plans is to set up a direction of your journey (yes, this is the future aspect) so that you become crystal clear on the action in the Now. Plans and goals give you a reference frame for your focus in the Now, so that the Now can be lived more satisfactorily and joyfully.

In short, planning helps you to live the Now more efficiently.

The present moment

Remember there are no problems in the current moment. When there is a situation with which you need to deal now, your present moment awareness will support you with a clear mind so that your decisions become efficient and your actions become decisive.

Do you remember the driving metaphor?

If you are consciously aware of the moment, taking responses in relation to what is happening on the road right now, you will drive well and safely. Most car accidents happen because the driver’s awareness was withdrawn from the present moment, either by going deeply into thinking, falling asleep or being distracted by external actions, e.g. turning head away to talk to a passenger.

(Note: Driving on a highway may also induce a trans state in which your consciousness goes into a deep thinking or a type of a meditative state. This usually happens on when the traffic is small or the road easy. )

This all sounds good, … but how to live in the present moment?

Being present in the Now may be difficult at first if you have been worrying or holding onto your past for a long time. The easiest way to bring your awareness to the present moment is to focus on breathing. As simple as it sounds. In-breath and out-breath. In-breath and out-breath.In-breath and out-breath. And so on.

Exercise: Red ribbon breathing

Practically, I recommend to do the following. Deep, slow, abdominal in-breath followed by a slow out-breath. To know that your breath is abdominal, put your hand just below the navel. Your hand should go up with an in-breath and down with an out-breath. Ideally, your out-breath is 3x longer than the in-breath. So, you can count, “one” (in-breath), “two, three and four” (out-breath).

In addition, imagine that you breath out any unease, pain or discomfort that you may feel inside or hold in your body now. Imagine this discomfort as a long, thin, red ribbon. While breathing out, make your mouth slightly open, making a small “o”-mouth, for the ribbon to get out,  of course ;).

This is an excellent exercise to focus on the moment (or prepare and fall asleep in the night) if you follow this for 5-10 min. Then, whatever issues you have to tackle, you simply look at them and decide which actions are to be taken in the Now.

Of course, it is difficult to be present 100% in all moments in life. But our goal is to be present as much as we can.

Summary

Let me repeat the most important finding.  The secret to happiness is to live fully in the present moment.

The only Operational Point of your life is in the present moment.The power is in the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions in the Now.
 
It is not your past that prevents you from being happy. It is your tight hold on the past, the focus of your attention on dwelling, replaying former disappointments, griefs, hurts and so on. Whenever you worry and replay your past in the present moment, you are only repeating the mental patterns for it to become your reality in the Now. Whenever you worry and project imagined fears into the future in the present moment, you are only creating the mental patterns for it to become your reality in the Now.

The only way to break this pattern is to bring your consciousness, your Conscious Self, to the present moment. Then you either accept what the moment brings or take an action.

I encourage you to focus on the Now. Have trust. Be present. Accept or Act.
The flow of happiness is yours.

***

This post is inspired by The power of Now book, by Eckhart Tolle.

***

 

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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