As the end of this last week approached, I couldn’t help but feel slightly dejected while gazing at the long list of creative “To-Dos” staring at me in red ink from my white board. I had started the week with clarity and intention and was making great progress towards completing a handful of artistic and business-oriented projects. Yet, somehow Wednesday rolled around and I started to become bogged down in stress and procrastination. I later found myself in conversation with a friend blaming it on my space, my environment and my lack of free time, among many other things. Fairly quickly into our conversation however, I heard my inner-victim voice screaming out and realized I had to take back my own power to reorganize and energize my life.
Thus, with a new attitude and fresh perspective, I woke up this morning feeling rejuvenated. While taking my morning hike, I was listening to an incredible audiobook by TOM’s Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie.
In the book, Start Something That Matters, Mycoskie stresses the importance of keeping things simple, both at home and at work, in order to allow creativity to flow more freely. I was quickly reminded of a powerful and important tool to shift my energy that I had forgotten about. That’s right, I am bringing back on to the stage the power of CLEANING! I spoke in a previous blog post about how when you are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious, physically cleaning your home, office or car space (or all of the above) can have a potent effect on your emotional and physical well-being. However, I also appreciated the reminder Mycoskie gave to start clearing out the junk and unnecessary clutter I had begun accumulating in my space which was starting to feel overwhelming and stifling.
In just a few short hours, I had scoured my drawers, closet and bookshelf for all the items I hadn’t touched in the last four months and probably wouldn’t touch again. I threw them into a bag for donations and give aways and cleaned and reorganized my space. Immediately I felt like I could breathe deeper and all of these creative ideas began pouring in that I had either forgotten about or had never thought of before. I felt like there was a clear line between myself and the computer and all I wanted to do was write and get things moving. However, I also realized that simplifying my life doesn’t mean just cleaning out the physical mess. It means taking important action steps to simplify my mental thinking and well-being as well.
This last week, my mind had started to get the better of my feet and was doing what I so lovingly refer to as the “Future-Trip.” This is where my mind is running five steps ahead into the future, away from what is happening in the moment, and many times can cause me to trip on my own two feet (since I’m no longer watching where I’m walking in the present). In order to come back to the moment and enjoy all the gifts that are in my life, I’ve also decided to re-prioritize not over scheduling myself, daily practices of gratitude, regular meditation and doing things that bring me joy and happiness throughout the day.
In an interesting psychology study conducted in 2014, researchers investigated the link between human focus on material acquisition and personal well-being. The study found a strong correlation between high levels of materialistic values and poor-mental health. A U.S. News Report article also investigated this link, as well as posited solutions for how to simplify, declutter and improve your quality of living. They quoted the author of the study, Tim Kasser, on simplification as saying, “Rather than just adding on, [ask yourself] what am I going to subtract? What am I going to stop doing?’ says Kasser, author of the 2002 book ‘The High Price of Materialism.’ ‘And the thing to stop doing from the simplicity perspective is to stop focusing on the acquisition of money, to stop focusing on possessions, to stop focusing so much on your image.” In addition to an emphasis on de-materializing your personal life, they also suggested rest and relaxation, movement and healthy eating as key components to living a simple but well-balanced life.
When we strip away all the things we THINK we need to have or accomplish in our life, not only can we find more room to breathe and enjoy the beauty around us, but we can also have more time and space to devote our creative energies to effectively working towards our larger and more important goals. So my PSA for this upcoming week, both for myself and for anyone reading, is to SLOW DOWN, take time to prioritize what is really important in your life and remember to nourish the essentials while letting go of the superfluous. Let’s all simplify an overstimulated way of living, in order to open the path for a quality lifestyle and more enjoyable world to live in.