In defense of starting over

The more stuff you possess, the less freedom you have. Here’s how to simplify your life:

  1. Starting over is freeing — Move to a new place or go for a long trip. When you do, you’ll have to evaluate all the things and commitments in your life. What’s really worth keeping?
  2. Wanting to change isn’t enough; you have to DECIDE — Many of us say we want a simpler life. If wanting were enough, we’d all be wealthy, healthy, and beautiful. Decisions change lives. The Latin root of decide literally means “to cut” — cut off other options. Decisions get rid of options and bring simplicity.
  3. Sentimental items weigh you down — How many of us have things our grandparents or great-grandparents left behind? How often do you look at those things? Try this. Take a picture of the sentimental item, then donate it. If you won’t actually use it, it’s probably weighing you down.
  4. Boxes of memories — Things from our past pile up in closets and attics. You may think you’ll want to revisit them, but chances are you don’t. You’ll breathe easier and feel more free without your past piling up around you.
  5. Make your home more peaceful — Reducing your commitments and clutter has the benefit of making your life more peaceful. Ask yourself, does this thing/activity bring me joy? Is it the best use of my time/space (not just a good use)?
  6. Develop a daily practice — Find a few core things to structure your day around. I suggest exercise, meditation, creativity, and gratitude. Your daily practice should anchor your day. Write about it every day — it will simplify your life to have “pillars” in every day.
  7. Experiences are more important than possessions — this simple mantra alone can guide your decisions about whether or not to buy something new.
  8. Stop chasing “happiness” — It’s a vague figment of your imagination. Instead, strive to live an interesting life. Rub against the grain. People buy things when they’re chasing “happiness.” They end up neither happy nor interesting. Strive to be interesting, and a good life will follow.
  9. Having less to lose means you’ll take more risks — When you no longer fear failure, you’re more likely to succeed. It’s the paradox of success. Owning less = more abundance in your life.
  10. The neuroscience of silence and solitude — Scientists have discovered that if you leave a rat in silence for a few hours/day, it stimulates cell development in the hippocampus. The nexus of emotion, memory, and the nervous system develops in solitude. Seek that solitude.
  11. No matter how chaotic your past, your future is always a clean slate — You can always start over.

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