Identify the essential, eliminate the rest.
Welcome to Self-Mastery — a place of timeless ideas to help you become the architect of your mind and create yourself, starting from the inside.
“Our lives are frittered away by detail … simplify, simplify.”
— Henry David Thoreau
How can we simplify ourselves and relax our minds, but also our home simultaneously? Declutter and repurpose, quite simply.
Letting go of unused possessions is one of the most refreshing, zest habits we can adopt to help ourselves feel happier. For me, once I realised I was holding onto too much “stuff” in my bedroom, removing something every week or so—no matter how small—helps my mind learn to let go. It’s a concept that doesn’t only apply to decluttering our homes, but life too.
“Once we’ve done that, what next?”
Do more of what you love.
Decluttering is more than removing unessential items. It’s about creating time and space for the things you love. It might be considered a waste of time, but this is a common misunderstanding. The time you enjoy “wasting” is not wasted time.
We’re so caught up in today’s world with having everything. Doing everything. It’s no wonder that when we still have everything, we feel emptiness still.
“A life unexamined is not worth living.”
We have so much ‘stuff’ in our lives: possessions, the flood of ideas in our head, visual and emotional distractions. We’re overloaded. The result? We do things that are not very important to us. How many times have you said yes to something you really didn’t want, or that wasn’t true to who you are? How often do you shrug off a bad habit or mindset?
Our environment and mind make up almost all that we do and become. They’re two cogencies that compound the good and the bad in our lives.
And so you should first identify what is essential. Be as objective as you can. Consider everything you love that’s is important to you; it’s only truly a few things. Then, cut out everything that distracts you and keeps you from doing what you love.
To find what’s essential, consider these five things:
The first question: what’s important to me, that I love to do? We often spend little time doing what we love, and even less time knowing it. For me, I love writing and reading. I love sports and working out. And I love helping others. So I’ve started to put more focus and time into that. There’s surprisingly more time than we realise.
The second question: what are the things going on in my life, the things I do every day, week, and month, and how are they related to what’s important to me? This considers much of your social life. Ask yourself, are you doing what your friends do because it makes you happy, or because it makes others happy? Is it honestly good for you—your mind and body?
For example, many people say they don’t have time for exercise or reading or seeing people that matter. But do they have time for the consequences? Do you have time for the pain and aches you get from not moving enough? Do you have time for the sadness of losing important relationships, or not learning about what you love? Think about whether what you’re doing will add value to your future self, or take it away.
Possessions: do you really love or use everything you have? It’s tough. Maybe that tray you have is sentimental. Or maybe you’ve had that cuddly toy in your room for years because it’s a childhood item. But is it essential now? Do you notice it anymore? If your house burnt down, would you replace these things?
The rest: I recently cut out news from my life. Unless it’s to do with something I care about that makes me happy, like Tesla or sports news. Otherwise I completely block it out. I block names and words on Twitter, and I avoid speaking about it with my friends. The difference is lifechanging. And I’m not exaggerating either.
What you’re left with: so now, what do you have left? It’s likely just the important things, the things you really love to do. Why wouldn’t you want to spend more time doing them? For me, I was left with more time for writing, eating healthier foods I enjoy, rather than fast food options that my friends wanted, and seeing things that were more inspiring, educational or positive. Most of the day hardly feels like a waste of time now.
Having more time for the things we love is what we all want. So why not spend more time focusing on achieving this? It’s never a waste of time if it makes us happier.
What’s on My Mind
Apologises for the delay this week. I’ve had a few articles published on Medium recently, with more to come soon. I’d love for you to read more and see if any of these articles help you at all. I’ve also been more active on Twitter, so follow me there if you like bitesize tips and insights.
See you again on Sunday.