So much of living a simpler life is about learning to let go.
We let go of clutter, junk and things we no longer need.
We let go of commitments, over-scheduling and endless activities.
We let go of expectations, perfection and comparisons.
For two simple words, the idea of ‘letting go’ can be a complicated one, tied up with emotional hangovers, memories, sentimentality and the notion that we should be living life in a certain way.
Can I tell you: it doesn’t need to be complex. The idea of letting go simply needs to be embraced.
Leo Babauta is a prolific writer and blogger. He has published books, written thousands of blog posts and inspired countless people with his words. A couple of years ago, he decided to uncopyright his work. All of it.
He let go and gave people permission to use his words however they wish. He let go of the stress and the worry of what people will do with those words. He simply decided that his time, effort and energy was better spent elsewhere. Like living his life. Spending time with his kids. Creating more art to inspire more people.
Years ago, before I began exploring the idea of simplifying life (or rather, before I had a massive breakdown and was forced to recognise that living life turned up to 11 was unhelpful and unsustainable) I ran an independent jewellery label.
It was successful-ish. I had stock in boutiques around the world. I was being mentored by a leading designer. We were talking about opening a shopfront. I had plane tickets booked for a buying trip to Thailand. I was planning big things.
When we discovered that our second baby was on the way, suddenly my ambitions felt less like dreams and more like enormous weights tied around my neck. I struggled through the motions for a while longer, pretending that I wanted to be successful more than I wanted to be sane. But it was a lie.
I let go of the business about 3 months before Toby was born. And as I began to discover the beauty of simplifying, I gave away all my stock. Tens of thousands of dollars worth: gone. Friends, family, neighbours, friends of neighbours, family of friends – my only stipulation was they weren’t to take it unless they wanted it. I didn’t want to burden anyone else with stuff they weren’t going to use.
And rather than lament the money lost or the dreams unfulfilled, I felt free. I had released myself from those weights – and that was worth a hell of a lot more than boxes of jewellery I no longer cared about.
If you’re just beginning the journey of simplifying, as I know so many of you are, there are a few things to keep in mind as you learn to let go:
- letting go is not just about the physical item, dream or idea – it goes beyond that
- once you declutter/give it away/sell it – really let it go
- own the decision to let go, and refuse to carry any guilt about it
- enjoy the feeling of being released from the weight, the worry and the stress of the thing
It has taken years for me to understand why letting go felt so good. But it’s in the art of letting go that the answer lies. So choose something that’s holding you back, and simply let it go.
(Insert pithy reference to Frozen here.)