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Learning to Let Go: The Benefits of Subtracting from Your Life

Declutter your life

We live in a world that promotes the idea of accumulation. DO MORE! ACQUIRE MORE! BE MORE! NEVER SLOW DOWN! This is the mainstream claim to “success.”

According to this construct, the more we have, the better we feel. Yet, this couldn't be further from the truth. Excessive living leads to an overabundance of stress and anxiety that saturate our lives. However, there is a way to find peace and simplicity. It comes from learning to let go of the things that don’t serve us.

There is freedom in accepting that less is more and enough is enough. To accept this truth, we must be secure within ourselves because the modern world, ignorant and dismissive of this belief, will continue to measure us against what we do and acquire, which places eminence pressure on us to stay stuck in the vicious cycle of pursuit and acquisition. This conditional acceptance favors a capitalist society and does not serve humanity’s search for fulfillment. In comparison, knowing when to say enough is enough will serve you well in all facets of life.

You don't always have to be doing something all the time. Again, we have been conditioned to believe that we always need to be doing something; otherwise, we may be perceived by others as lazy, unmotivated, or wasting our time. Here is where a paradox arises. Doing ‘nothing’ could very well be a sign of all those things IF we are not intentional with our ‘doing nothingness.’ Also, it is impossible to do ‘nothing.’ Sitting still is still doing something. So, let’s view our actions as productive or busy.

Busyness is what we are trying to avoid because it tends to lack conscious intention, and we may find ourselves being less efficient with our energy expenditure (mental or physical). Busyness tends to result from a lack of conscious and intentional living, a desire to feel productive, to prove something to ourselves or others, or to distract ourselves from our thoughts and emotions that we are unwilling to address.

If you notice that you have little to account for at the end of your ‘doing,’ or you are miserable even when results are achieved, why do you continue to do whatever you are doing? If it is because you feel like a failure otherwise, I highly encourage you to rethink your efforts.

Being still, mentally and physically, has allowed me to reconnect with my true intentions. As a result, when I do decide to act, it is with purpose. This clear direction will enable me to produce more with less—less effort, less time, and less stress.

Letting go of the past is another crucial aspect of subtraction. We can’t deny the influence our past has had on our lives. However, we can control how much of our past we allow to impact our present and future actions, beliefs, and decisions. Too often, we forget we have this choice and instead let our past experiences weigh us down and keep us from moving forward. Be it trauma, regret, or loss; we tend to bring what happened into the happening and predict what will happen.

I’m often asked, “HOW do I let go?” The answer is as simple as it is complicated—choose. When you have a thought of doubt, fear, or expectation that is a direct influence from your past experiences or beliefs, take notice. By noticing, we are bringing conscious awareness to our choice to continue being influenced by our past or to break the cycle. Forgiveness of self and others, the release of guilt, shame, doubt, fear, limitations, and expectations free us and lighten our load, allowing us to move forward with ease as a weight has been lifted.

Let nature be your guide.

We humans often try to separate ourselves from nature and look where it has got us: war, greed, ecological destruction, and scarcity in a world of abundance—how arrogant of us. We waste, we hoard, and for what purpose? It’s quite ridiculous. And then we wonder why we are unhappy and unfulfilled.

Nature does none of these things. It takes what it needs and clings to nothing. And if an invasive species does begin to take over, without fail, nature finds a way to regain balance.

Decluttering our heart, mind, time, and physical world is essential to self-liberation, abundance, and freedom. Ironically, when we try to cling to things and hoard, we restrict ourselves from all that is available to us. We must empty to refill. We must let go to gain. We must become still to gain clarity, which allows us to discover and create.

Learning to let go is a journey of self-discovery. Doing so creates more space in our lives, allowing us to move forward with simplicity, focus, and contentment.


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