Pulling Up Behind Ourselves

November 5th, 2009

Several years ago there was a Hummer driving around town with a bumper sticker that read, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” One wonders whether the owner saw the irony in that but he probably didn’t since he never pulled up behind himself. Much has changed since then and that statement is truer than ever. But, as this amusing juxtaposition illustrates, it is impossible to live simply while caught up in the glamour of materialism and our current economic and cultural model. In other words, we need to pull up behind ourselves and see our stuff for what it is.

So what does living simply look like? As with anything else, it exists along a spectrum.

On one end is a return to earlier times, living off the grid, growing your own food, and relying on community and homemade resources rather than big boxes. On the other end

it may simply mean that one keeps things longer and fixes them rather than throwing them away or replacing them the moment they become obsolete. One doesn’t have to live a life devoid of material objects to live simply and modern technology has simplified (and paradoxically complicated) the way we live, plus, it’s nice to have things. It’s when our possessions begin to possess us physically or emotionally that we need to acknowledge our metaphorical Hummer.

Why should one want to live simply? Many Eastern and New Thought teachings emphasize that our outer world is merely a reflection of our inner world. For evidence just compare the way you feel on a walk in the woods with the way you feel in a cluttered room. Clutter is the enemy of a simple life. While simplicity looks different for everybody and encompasses many facets of life, there a few common rules when it comes to our living environments:

1)      Only keep what you need, love, and have room for. Don’t keep things you haven’t used in years, “just in case.”

2)      Less is more. Not every square inch of space needs to be filled. In fact, clearing space creates a vaccum for new things to enter into your life. This is true for décor as well as furniture.

3)      Always look for ways to streamline and reduce. For instance, a photograph of you wearing that favorite tattered sweater takes up far less space than the sweater itself. It’s the memories that our things represent that are important, not the things themselves.

Simplifying starts with an honest assessment. Pull up behind yourself and view your space and belongings objectively as an outsider.  This can be difficult as there may be feelings of guilt and shame or other judgements that come up; it is important to meet them with love and let them pass. For many, surrounding themselves with possessions is tied up in security. Do you need it? Or do you just need it to feel safe? One is an external thing the other an internal state. Which is really more necessary? As you begin to simplify your environment you may notice that a room that once made you feel tense and scattered is now a serene respite. To be sure, living simply requires considering both the internal and the external  but once you begin to live more simply you’ll be amazed at how much more peaceful and clear you feel.

Visit www.clearspaceorganizing.com or call Mark at 480-241-8119 for more information or to schedule your free consultation.

As printed in the Natural Awakenings November 2009

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