One Rule to Simplify Your Life

In my life, there have been two times when I have sold everything I own to move to a new city. Each time I have done this, I end up needing less for my new place. I would ask myself these questions before each purchase: “Do I really need/love this?” “Will I want to move this again?” The more I asked, the less I realized I needed. I adopted simplicity as a lifestyle after the first big move.

I have a 12 month rule: If I haven’t worn it or used it in 12 months, I donate. Chances are, if I haven’t needed the item in a year, I most likely will not find a use for it any time soon.  I have been doing this since 2008 and with very few exceptions, this rule has worked.

The first time I tried simplifying, it was painful. I felt like I was letting go of the most important items I owned, including a large box full of every paper I wrote in college. I had been moving this box around for 5 years, never opening it to re-read what I had wrote. It was just this heavy thing that came with me to every house. When I threw the box and papers into the recycling bin, I felt my heart sink and then I felt lighter. I thought about the room that box took up and the weight I would never have to carry again. It was liberating.

By simplifying, I had made more room for new things to enter and provided myself the space I craved. I’m a collector of experiences and several came up the more I de-cluttered my life. I was able to save money by cutting back. I even said no to some experiences in order to go after the ones that truly moved me. The beauty in simplifying is that you start to go after the things that you really need or love. This approach has brought a richness to my life.

The process of getting rid of stuff is similar to weeding a garden. In order for the healthy plants to grow, the gardener must pull out the weeds or prune dead branches. After the weeds and dead growth have been removed, the plant can deepen its roots and sprout new growth.

Are there things in your life that you are holding onto for no apparent reason? Is there clutter that needs to be organized? Where can you simplify in your life? What things have not been used for more than 12 months?

At first, it will be hard to let go of things that have been held onto for years. Attachment is a source of pain. However, there is freedom in letting go. Visualize the newly cleared space, feel the freedom of simplifying. There are a few more weeks of Spring, the perfect time to take action and remove all that holds you back. Make room for what you really love and what wants to grow.

“Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life” -Marcus Aurelius

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