I’ve been getting the little Sunday FYI edition of the Savannah Morning News for a while now. With my minimalist, Thoreau-ish “Simplify!” philosophy of life (under 800 square feet in my place in historic district Savannah), I LOVE a newspaper that has only eight pages. Because, really, if I don’t like the news, I can simply rip the whole thing apart in one superior-feeling swoop.
So how pleasantly surprised I was when I saw this past Sunday’s page seven article, “Six Things You Don’t Need in Your Life,” written by local psychotherapist extraordinaire Michelle Aycock.
Six things you don’t need in your life
I wrote a column many years ago about the five things you don’t need in your life. I have actually added a sixth thing that none of us need in our lives — being close-minded. This is a problem that can hold us back from enjoying our lives since close-minded individuals tend to only see the world and others as what they think it should be.
If you missed my original column about the five things you don’t need then just read below.
It is a pretty common experience to hold onto things in life long past the time they actually help us — not just the physical stuff, but also the emotional junk that we let clutter our space. We create all kinds of stories about why we need to keep these things such as, “We may need them someday or we just don’t know how to get rid of them.”
The problem with hanging onto things that are no longer useful to us is that it is hard to make room for new things when you are surrounded with old stuff. Taking the time and energy to clear out the things that you no longer need actually creates more time and space in your life. I am not only talking about clearing out physical stuff, but also the emotional stuff.
Consider eliminating these six things from your life:
1. Old ideas and attitudes. Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.” Shifting your perceptions is often the key to new opportunities. You are in charge of your own life. It is not your current circumstances that are holding you back, it is the way you are thinking about them. Instead of saying, “That’s just the way it is” try saying, “How can I think about this differently?” Just beginning to think about things differently can open up possibilities you hadn’t imagined.
2. Piles of stuff lying around. Take inventory of items that simply take up space or collect dust such as clothes you don’t wear, old magazines or old bills that need to be filed. Ask yourself, “Is this something that I truly love or is currently functional in my life?” If your answer is no, consider getting rid of it by donating or recycling it. Clutter can not only block us physically, but also emotionally.
3. Negative and emotionally exhausting relationships. Some relationships are emotionally draining, but some are emotionally uplifting. If you are putting a lot of emotional energy into a relationship but still continue to feel emotionally exhausted, you then must ask yourself, “Is this relationship mutually satisfying? Do we support and encourage each other?” If not then it may be time to move on. Not only ask these questions regarding your intimate relationships, but also friend and family relationships.
4. Unproductive habits. Most people complain that they don’t have enough time yet they engage in unproductive habits that keep them stuck. To break this cycle as yourself, “Does this habit bring me closer to my goals?” If the answer is no, then consider what behaviors you need to change to help you reach your goals. Begin replacing one unproductive habit with a new one.
5. “Someday” thinking. One of the biggest road blocks to having the life you want is being stuck in “someday” thinking. Someday is not a day on your calendar and without some planning it never arrives. Ask yourself, “Why am I putting my life on hold?” Make a list of all the things that you have been wanting to do and goals you would like to achieve. Which is the one that you will most regret not having accomplished in your life? Go down your list one by one and take steps to work toward each and every goal.
6. Being close-minded. If you lack tolerance or flexibility of your views of others or how things should be, then you may be missing out on a little more happiness in your life. For the most part, you may view differences as bad, where really the truth is that being different is what makes life fun and challenging. Get rid of this way of thinking before it causes a lot of anger and resentment in your life.
Look for next week’s advice column where I will be discussing in detail how being close-minded can impede your road to happiness and how to overcome this pattern of thinking.
Michelle Aycock is a licensed psychotherapist. Her website is www.coastaltherapist.com.