If only we could put happiness in a bottle and access it when we are feeling down. I’m learning that feeling happy is not only dependent on what’s happening around us, but on what’s happening on the inside too.
I don’t know the secret to happiness or how to feel happy all the time, but here are a few things I do know about happiness.
It’s ok not to feel ok all the time.
Happiness comes and goes and then it comes back again.
People aren’t always as happy as they want you to think they are.
We can go through something really hard or sad and still feel happy.
We have more power than we think when it comes to creating happiness.
Two of my favorite people, Marc and Angel Chernoff specialize in cultivating love and happiness. They study positive psychology, write about what they learn and even host an annual conference to encourage others to live differently by thinking differently. They share amazing, inspiring information but what I really love about them is that they walk the walk. I’ve spent time with them, had very meaningful conversations with them, watched them with their son, their parents, friends, and clients. They are the real deal. Their desire to lift people up is palpable.
I’m happy to celebrate the release of their new book, Getting Back to Happy. It invites us to change our lives by changing our thoughts. The powerful lessons and action steps delivered throughout the book mixed with beautiful stories of people experiencing heartbreak, trauma, and hopelessness who rise up don’t just bring us back to happy. They bring us back to hope, to love, and to trusting ourselves to become who we want to be and to live rich, full lives full of what matters most.
Again, while I don’t know the secret to happiness, what I do know is that we have the power to infuse our days with little boosts of happiness, even when things are messy, or painful.
If you need a little extra happiness today, I recommend the following happiness boosts …
Making someone else happy. Send flowers, or a text message, or something else. Boosting someone’s happiness always boosts mine too.
Be Grateful. Find something – even the tiniest thing to be grateful for.
Take a joy walk. Leave your step counter at home and walk for the joy of it. Notice the beauty around you. Make your walk an adventure to spot things that make you smile.
Shorten your to-do list. If I’m overwhelmed with too many things to do, I don’t feel happy. When I lighten up my list, I lighten my heart at the same time.
Write your happy down. Reflect on the ordinary, everyday things that make you happy and write them down. Use your list as a reminder that even when everything feels chaotic or messy, you have a reserve of happiness to tap into. Things on my list include cuddles with this pup, sunrises and sunsets, music and coffee.
Even though we know how to declutter, our procrastination tendencies kick in when it’s time to get started. We think, “today is the day to start decluttering” and our friend, procrastination steps in and offers the following …
“There is so much to do.”
“Where should we start?”
“Is that really the best place to start?”
“What’s on Netflix?”
“Did you exercise today?”
“This is going to take forever.”
“Come on, it’s your day off. Do you really want to spend it decluttering?”
“There will be plenty of time tomorrow to get started.”
The secret to combating procrastination is to build momentum. It also helps to trick procrastination into having fun. Instead of making your decluttering project a big chore, turn it into a challenge. Bonus: a challenge may interest decluttering resistant family members too.
Procrastination will fight our intention to spend a full day decluttering, but 10 minutes? We can do anything for 10 minutes. Choose a space, set a timer for 10 minutes and put 10 items from each space in a box or bag. By the time you finish, procrastination won’t know what hit him. Use the momentum you create by tackling another space, or going for 10 more items in the space you are in.
You may not need to declutter all 10 of these spaces so choose the ones that resonate with you and add on spaces as needed.
Dump the contents from your daily bag. Only add the items you use back in. Let go of the rest.
Get rid of old cosmetics (see this for expiry guidelines), expired prescriptions and OTC meds (here’s how to dispose of them). Take a sweep through each drawer and cabinet. If there are unopened items (toothpaste, shampoo, soap) or similar items that you know you will never use, donate to a local homeless shelter.
3. Hall Closet
I’ve never seen the inside of your hall closet, but I can almost guarantee there are things in there you don’t need, don’t want and don’t even remember you have. I’ll be checking my hall closet this afternoon!
If you bought food for a special diet and then never did the special diet or opened the food packaging, donate it to a food pantry. If there are other things you never use, let it go and make space. Or, challenge yourself to use everything in your pantry before buying anything new.
Make the space near where you sleep simple and peaceful.
6. Outdoor space
Tackle balconies, porches, front yards and backyards. Even when it’s outside, clutter is clutter.
From the glove box to the trunk, do a sweep of your car. You’ll probably eliminate that annoying rattling noise in the process.
If your inbox has become a 2 year to-do list, start deleting for 10 minutes at a time. If it’s a lost cause, consider email bankruptcy.
9. Head space
What’s swirling around up there? Write down 10 things that are on your mind, weighing you down, and preventing you from thinking clearly. The simple process of moving your worries from brain to paper will help you figure out the next step.
Open your banking account and see what you’ve spent money on over the last 30 days. Make a list of the 10 things you want to spend less on, and cancel monthly subscriptions that aren’t serving you anymore.
Now that you’ve let procrastination know that you are the boss, consider these other challenges to continue to build decluttering momentum.
Decluttering excuses help us hold on to crap we don’t need. If you struggle to let go (and most of us do), you might find yourself using one or more of the following decluttering excuses. I’ve used them all and in talking with people over the years, I hear them come up a lot.
1. I might need that someday.
This is a lie I told myself over and over again. I still catch myself doing it. What I’ve realized though is that most of the time, just in case means never. While there will always be unique situations, this excuse (for the most part) is how we procrastinate letting go.
If this is your favorite excuse, I recommend creating a just in case box. As you are decluttering and come across things you want to save just in case, put it in the box. When the box is full, seal it and hide it. Get it out of sight. Set a reminder to donate the box in 90 days. Chances are you won’t remember what’s inside, and you won’t think about it at all until you are reminded.
2. I want my stuff to go to a good home.
During most of my decluttering efforts, I didn’t struggle with this one. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about where my stuff went, I just knew that I could do more good in the world once all of the excess was gone. I didn’t want to get hung up on where each thing went because I knew that would only delay the process. Find a place to sell or donate your things that is “good enough” and stop filling all the spaces after you let go. It’s the repetitive cycle of buy-declutter-buy-declutter that is depleting our resources and filling us with guilt for needlessly spending and searching for fulfillment in the wrong places.
The Buy Nothing Project may help you find a good home nearby. The rules are simple: “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.” You can find a Facebook Group in your local area and offer what you don’t need anymore.
3. It’s not hurting anyone.
This was one of my favorite excuses to hold on. I wrote the following about letting go of some of my sentimental items in Soulful Simplicity, “In an effort to hold on tight, I thought, “It’s not hurting anything or anyone to keep this stuff.” Then I remembered that I want my quality of life to be more in line with “How is this helping?” instead of “How is this not hurting?” I wanted to create an environment that allowed me to be fully present.
Once I identified why I wanted to let it all go, the paper and plastic stuff that made up my memories didn’t have a hold on me or my heart anymore. Now, instead of capturing moments and boxing them up, I embrace and absorb them. The next time you think, “It’s not hurting.” ask “How is it helping?”
Decluttering and letting go for good is a challenging process. Pay attention to your decluttering excuses, the lessons, and the lightness you feel on the other side. You’ll learn so much about yourself and how you want to move through the world.
I want to support your book club! If you are reading, have read or plan to read and discuss my book, Soulful Simplicity with your book club, I’d love to help and mail you some goodies.
I’m so grateful you chose Soulful Simplicity for your book club. Included below are a few things that will help you talk about the book and enjoy your time together. If you don’t belong to a local book club, start one or connect with long distance friends and host a virtual book club.
Somedays, it seems I spend most of my time deleting emails, ignoring phone calls, and fielding random salesy, sleazy text messages. At the end of days like that, I wondered how after years of simplifying my life, I feel so overwhelmed. While I have done a pretty good job of stopping the inflow of clutter, stuff and busy work, clearly there is more work to be done.
Based on the survey results of our recent Annual Community Survey, I see that you know there is still work to be done too. We have to keep coming back to the basics, whether we are just getting started or years into simplifying our lives. Thanks to your feedback, I’m keeping simplicity basics in mind in my home and for future articles. We have to keep coming back!
Today’s simplicity basics article isn’t about decluttering but instead, having less to declutter.
Simplicity Basics: slow the inflow of noise and stuff
Even before you let go of one more thing, make a commitment to slow the inflow. Just like decluttering, I recommend that you take it slowly and focus on one area at a time. Take a look at the suggestions below and pick one. Slow the inflow today and give your decluttering efforts a chance to make a difference. If things are coming in faster than they are going out, you may be working harder than you have to.
From free stuff at work or conferences, to online ordering, to “just picking up a few things,” address the inflow of stuff (that turns into clutter). Think back over the last few days about what you brought into your home. Be vigilant about what comes in. Slow the inflow:
Recycle mail before you bring it through the door or set it on a table.
Empty purses, backpacks, and other bags and boxes when it comes in and discard the junk before it finds a permanent home in a junk drawer or another space.
Put a ban on unnecessary shopping until you better understand why you buy what you buy and until you make some headway with your decluttering efforts.
Enjoy the space and lightness you are creating and use that enjoyment as motivation to continue.
Phone (calls and text messages)
On a positive note, our phones keep us in touch with loved ones and let us capture beautiful moments with their cameras. They can also be a major distraction, preventing us from doing creative work, taking time to read a book, really connect with our loved ones, and on and on.
Block phone numbers. Every time a call comes in with a message from someone you don’t know, who wants to sell you something you don’t want, or shares something that has nothing to do with you, don’t just delete because they will keep calling. Instead, block the number. Same goes for text messages. Don’t respond, or worry, or get annoyed … block.
Silence your phone. When you need time to focus on a project, conversation, or another activity, silence your phone, put it in airplane mode, or turn it off. Don’t trust yourself to ignore the ring, beep, or buzz. Even if you do ignore, you’ll still be distracted.
Create phone-free zones. Put cars, dinner tables, bathrooms and movie theatres at the top of the list please.
Not every email needs your attention, and no email needs your immediate attention. Slow the inflow:
Limit the amount of times you check email each day. If you check email on your phone but don’t respond until you are in front of your computer or tablet, remove email from your phone.
Create 2 email accounts, 1 for regular email and another for email you can’t avoid but don’t care about. Visit the second account once a week or once a month and select all, delete.
Unsubscribe to stuff that you don’t read, don’t enjoy, and that doesn’t add value to your life.
If you haven’t read anything in your “read later” folder lately, delete it and stop saving things for later. Later usually means never.
Send fewer emails and use fewer words when you respond. As Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” It’s also the only hope we have of navigating our inboxes with a shred of sanity.
What do you bring into your home that you can’t see? Do you carry the work day into the kitchen, your worries about an earlier conversation into a current one, or fears into your dreams when you lay down to sleep? We all do that a little bit, and sometimes a lot. Slow the inflow:
Create a buffer zone. Instead of rushing from work life to home life, make a little space or ritual in between. Walk around the block, take a shower, or sit quietly with a cup of tea to signify that you are leaving the workday, or something you struggled with behind for a while as you get ready to connect with family or to engage in another part of your day.
Sit quietly for 5-10 minutes day. Try a guided meditation from Headspace. This won’t stop your thoughts, or even slow them down but it will help you to let go of them with more ease.
Write down your heart. Every morning or evening, let your heart spill onto a page. You don’t have to share or re-read. Simply, set your worries free.
These recommendations will take some time to implement, so if things get too noisy before you have a chance to slow the inflow, walk away. Take a walk and a few deep breaths. Create lightness within you and you’ll strengthen your resolve to create lightness around you.
Below is the first Be More with Less, Annual Community Survey with a few questions for you. I’ve mentioned before that this blog is the heart of my work, and you are the heart of this blog. If you’ve been reading for 8 years or 8 days, I want to know what you think and what you want. Before you jump in though, check out this heart-centered giveaway.
I recently partnered up with my very first private yoga teacher, Scott Moore to give away a signed copy of my new book, and Scott’s virtual yoga and meditation course, Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift. What I loved about working with Scott is he knew how important it was to create a yoga practice that worked for me. It couldn’t be too slow, too fast, too woo, too hot, or too fancy. He wrote about it here.
I know what’s best for me.
I know that changes over time.
I know it doesn’t make everyone happy all the time.
I’m ok with that.
This whole doing what’s best for me doesn’t come naturally, but continuing to connect with my heart, check in with my self, and experiment with new habits helps. All of this work has given me the confidence (over time) to make really big, sometimes crazy changes. That doesn’t mean I don’t second guess myself or have doubts, but when I do I come back to my heart. I just keep coming back.
If you’d like to have a better connection with your heart, and a better understanding of what you want from this big, beautiful, messy thing called life, enter our giveaway here on Instagram. If you prefer to steer clear of Instagram, no problem at all! It is my preferred social media channel (good connection, fun, low on distraction) but I get it … what’s best for me is not always best for you.
Annual Community Survey: tell me what you really want
I love writing for you and sharing how simplicity has changed my health, my home, and my whole life. I’m grateful that I get to do this work but as much as I love it on my own, you make it way more fun and meaningful. We are in this together! Thank you for all that you contribute; from reading a blog post, sharing it with a friend, correcting my typos, joining me for a live call now and then, saying hi or asking a question, and even more importantly … for making changes in your own life. You inspire me!
About the survey
Most of the questions are multiple choice.
There is an “other” category for almost every question. Feel free to expand on your answer if you have more to share.
While I won’t respond to every survey, if there is something you’d like me to respond to, please include your name and email address.
While longer articles, compelling podcast interviews and entire books can inspire your next step, sometimes all you need are a few words that connect with your heart. Here are a few of the minimalism quotes I posted (image + caption) on Instagram recently. If anything resonates, makes you smile, or helps you take action, feel free to save, print, share, or use in anyway that you’d like.
Find the somethings in your home, closet, work, brain & heart. Then look at your calendar and lists. Let go of lots of somethings and make space to heal and recover. If you want to be light, you have to let go.
Clean counters and shorter to-do lists are nice but thats nothing nothing compared to trusting yourself. Use that precious time and space you are creating to put your hands on your heart.
This one is less about minimalism and more about simply smiling. And please consider that perhaps it’s not your job to make everyone happy.
When I saw these words from @introvertdear, I thought, “That’s so me.” I’m done fake smiling. I will not say yes when my heart says no.
Mix and match to your heart’s desire.
I want to spend time with people who make me laugh. I want to take really long walks all by myself. I want to create for days on end. I want to linger over a good meal. I want to see the world, stand up for what I believe in, sleep 8 hours, write my next book, take a dance class, and read every day. I want to help people with their work. I can’t do any of that all at once. When I’m doing one thing, I let go of the other stuff for days or months. It’s not balance. It’s being in it. I don’t want a balanced life, I want a meaningful one … a real life.
I enjoy sharing and connecting on Instagram. It seems to be the most social of the social media platforms. I’ll be hosting an Instagram Live session on Monday, April 14th at 5:00 pm ET and have a fun giveaway for next week too. If you are interested, please join me there by clicking any of these images.
P.S. Time sensitive: If you are interested in private coaching with me and my team for your blog based work, learn more here and submit your application by April 12th.
Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 is often met with strong reactions. It’s usually one of the following …
Yes! I’m in.
I would but because of (insert one of the popular excuses listed below), I can’t.
I could never do that.
Wait, what’s Project 333?
You can find everything you need to know about this minimalist fashion challenge I created in 2010 here, but here’s a quick rules refresher:
When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!).
What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outer wear and shoes.
What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (but workout clothes have to workout).
How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your wardrobe, seal it with tape and put it out of sight for 3 months.
What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.
While some have tried the challenge and given up, or decided dressing with less isn’t for them, those who have approached it with curiosity have learned a lot about themselves and their relationship with stuff, clothes and shopping. Some of them (including me) discovered so many benefits (that went far beyond the closet) and decided to carry on capsule wardrobing long after the 3-month challenge.
A few common excuses/fears that prevent people from getting started:
While this challenge isn’t for everyone, you may be curious and scared at the same time. The trick is to be more curious than scared. Hopefully unpacking some of the most common fears will help:
If you are concerned because at the beginning of spring, it’s snowing and at the end of spring it’s really warm where you live, I can relate. Choose your 33 items knowing that some of your pieces will only be worn in the very beginning or at the very end of the challenge. I didn’t choose 3 months of similar weather on purpose. This is a challenge after all.
If you dress differently for work than in the rest of your life, there are a few things you can do to make a capsule wardrobe work. For starters, dress your work wear down about 10% and your out of work wear up about 10%. If you wear a uniform to work, count all of your uniforms as one item.
If you are used to housing several sizes in your closet to accommodate for weight fluctuations, only keeping one size in your closet will feel scary. Remember that the challenge is only 3 months long and most clothing can accommodate some fluctuation.
While there are others, these are the 3 big fears/excuses and they always come from people who haven’t tried the challenge. They are all imagined problems. They haven’t happened yet. They may never happen. You can deal with them if they do, when they do. They probably won’t. When you begin to see your excuses as things that haven’t happened yet, you’ll begin to move outside of your comfort zone in many other situations too.
Are you ready to try minimalist fashion Project 333?
Yes, I’m in!
Awesome, I love that about you! Jump in. Clean out your closet for good, hide your other stuff for 3 months and get started. If you are on Instagram, share before and after closet pictures, or your daily outfits with hashtag #project333.
I would but because of (insert one of the popular excuses listed above), I can’t.
I so get you! I felt that fear too before I got started but I started just the same and I’m so glad. I realized I had been imagining all of the things that could go wrong and they never did. When I started this challenge, I thought it would be so hard, but it wasn’t. In fact, it made most things easier.
Even though you have permission to break the rules with Project 333, perhaps there is some benefit to really going for it and sticking with the rules above.
I’ve done the nutritional reset/food challenge Whole30® 6 times. I’ve also fallen short a few times when I tried to bend the rules. It is only when I am fully committed that I stick with it. I also get so much more from it when I am all in. Whenever I think giving up sugar, dairy, processed food and other things for 30 days is too hard, I remember founder, Melissa Hartwig’s words, “This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written.”
Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333 isn’t hard either. Clothes are easier to quit than carbs (especially if you love pasta like I love pasta). This is not hard. I believe you can do it, and that it will change your life in ways you can’t imagine.
If you are still thinking … “I could never do it.”
Please, please, please … always challenge your nevers. And not because I want you do this challenge or any other challenge, but because I want you to know you can.
So, let’s talk about it!
To address your excuses, fears, and questions about minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, I’ll be hosting a Facebook live call on Monday, April 9th at 2pm Pacific (LA)/5pm Eastern (NYC). If you can’t make it but want to submit a question and catch the recording later, comment on this post. I’ll share the recording on YouTube too, so if you don’t do Facebook, no problem!
PS I’m accepting applications for Soul-Centered Business School (the private sessions): private coaching, and an opportunity to work with my team. If how I work resonates with you, and you have a blog or site you want to grow into something that will support you and your mission,learn more about what’s included and apply here by April 12th.
If you want room to breathe, to create, to pause, to dream, to spend time with people you love, or to know who you are and what matters to you, stop filling all the spaces.
As we declutter and let go of stuff, busyness, mind spinning and heartache, things may feel empty at first. And empty can hurt. So we fill the spaces to relieve the pain. Then we start all over again.
When you move into a new home, don’t rush out and buy all the things each room is supposed to have. Live in the space and then decide what you want or need. It’s up to you, and it’s much less than anyone will have you believe. Stop filling all the spaces with the right stuff.
After a break-up or break-down, be willing to feel the emptiness and wait for the lessons. Stop filling all the spaces with busyness, shopping, food, booze or other numbing devices. They won’t prevent the pain, only delay it.
When you declutter your closet, empty hangers are not a shopping invitation. Dress with less and decide what “enough” means to you. Stop filling all the spaces with clothing that doesn’t fit your body or your lifestyle.
If there is extra time while you are waiting in line, sitting in traffic or simply settling in after a long day, take a few deep breaths and reflect. Stop filling all the spaces with digital distractions and mindless scrolling.
When an appointment cancels, or something falls off your to-do list, don’t replace it. Embrace the margin. Stop filling all the spaces with more to do. Less do. More be.
Resist. Wait. Breathe.
Stop filling all the spaces.
Instead, let the extra spaces in your home and on your calendar and in your mind or heart be empty for awhile. The emptiness may be uncomfortable at first, but that’s where the answers lie. And when it’s time, you’ll have room for what you really want.
I write about simplicity, health, and capsule wardrobes, and once in a while, I write about my work. I’m really grateful I enjoy what I do because that wasn’t always the case. Here are 4 things you probably didn’t know about me and my work.
1. I started bemorewithless.com with the intention of turning it into the heart of my life’s work.
Some people start a blog as a hobby or creative outlet, others as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. Those are great reasons to blog, but from the moment I started this site almost 8 years ago, I knew it would be my work. I wasn’t sure how, or what it would look like, but I knew why and that was enough.
2. My former employers told me I would never be as successful on my own as I would be working for them.
Oh, how wrong they were. Even if we completely removed money from the equation here, I am so much more successful. When I gave my notice in October 2011, they offered me more money and I declined. Sure I wanted to make money, but I wanted to work for something besides a paycheck too. I wanted to believe in what I was doing, have the flexibility to spend more time with my family and to do things I enjoy, and to have the honor of helping people make time and space for what they really love too.
3. I am very thoughtful when offering you something new.
It usually takes me months, and sometimes years to create something new. I value your time and attention.
You don’t have to fight pop-ups or other advertisements on bemorewithless.com.
I turn down tens of thousands of dollars in advertising requests every year.
I only create, and offer things I believe in.
And, it’s why I don’t mind sharing what I offer or apologize for what I charge. If it’s not for you, don’t buy it. If it is, you can engage knowing you are working with someone who cares about her work and yours.
4. I’m offering private coaching for the first (and maybe last) time in years.
2 years ago, I offered a program called Soul-Centered Business School to a group of 100. I’m currently creating a new version to offer to anyone interested in doing work they love. In the meantime, I’m offering Soul-Centered Business School (the private sessions): private coaching, and an opportunity to work with my team to 12 people. Yep, only 12.
Take one of my courses: I’ve created courses to help you shrink your wardrobe and create work that matters to you. You can learn more on my course page.
Invite me to speak at your next event: You can see my new speaking reel and other information here.
If this is the right time and you decide to work with me, thank you. If this isn’t the right time, thank you for considering. If we’ve worked together before, thank you. If you know someone who might enjoy working with me, thank you for sharing this.
I guess what I’m trying to say is no matter how we work together, I’m grateful for your trust and support.