Over the years, I’ve talked to many people who want to live minimally or be more organized. They’d like to have less stuff in their closets, drawers, basements and attics. They’re thrilled with the idea of having less furniture and knick knacks to clean. They want to rid themselves of items they’ve kept out of guilt. They know the advantages of living with less: clearer, calmer minds, less work keeping it systemized, more efficiency in their daily lives.

By the time people call Lighten Up, they’ve already said yes to a change. Although some clients might be anxious the first time we meet, they are definitely ready to move forward. As we start reviewing the process, I can see their faces and bodies relax. Realizations can vary, depending on the case, ranging from “I can see now that my situation is not a hopeless one” to “Thank goodness I don’t have to do this alone.” Each person, in his or her own way, begins to identify ways to change. They admit it’s not as bad as they thought it was and that it’s true – two heads are indeed better than one.

And that’s the big yes! Whether we’re reorganizing or decluttering, there will be some items we have to say no to. Dirty? Ripped? Moldy? Broken? Those are the easy ones.  Saying no to the items kept out of guilt is hard. We think we’re saying no to an actual person, the one who gave it to us or who once owned it. But we can choose to love and recognize that person in our own way. We can say no to the items that serve no useful purpose other than making us re-wrap and shove them in the back of a closet.

Saying no to “woulda-and-shoulda-clutter” sometimes is even more difficult:

  • We’ve bought gear for hobbies we’ve never started, never completed or for which we simply don’t have the time.
  • We have dressy clothes we don’t use. Even if we no longer work in a place that requires business attire, attend many formal parties or frequent dance-clubs, we hang on to them anyway.
  • We have piles of books we’ve either read and think we’ll read again; or have never found the right time to read. We’re absolutely positive we’ll read them all.
  • We store “freebies”, especially hotel travel-size bath essentials thinking we will actually use them because we plan to travel at least fifty more times in our lives… where we know we’ll just pick up more of the freebies and have an ever bigger basket of shampoos, conditioners and lotions shoved in the bathroom vanity.
  • We keep never – or rarely used – appliances, gadgets, and tools because we might need them someday. Someday has come and gone and we still haven’t used them.
  • We’ve spent a lot of money on stuff and feel we can’t simply give it away. The perceived investment that was made makes it hard to see these items for what they really are: just more “things.”

There’s nothing wrong with using hope to visualize ourselves living a different life someday. But saying no to all of these possessions and simply getting rid of them says volumes for the yes to the life we’re ready to grasp. With no clutter by our side, we can sit down, spread out, close our eyes and visualize the life we are now prepared to embrace. Our yes mind will be stronger having said no to belongings that just don’t bring value anymore.

When we make decisions to challenge ourselves, we’re usually saying yes to a somewhat healthy change. We might challenge ourselves to pray and meditate every morning, to lose weight, or maybe to tighten our budget.

Every challenge requires a great deal of strategy for success. We plan in order to bring about the best results; unconsciously saying yes to each new decision. It’s not something of which we’re aware. We’re not yelling “Yes” and pumping our fist in the air each time. But, if we think back on times when we’ve challenged ourselves and physically visualize it, we can see all of the little “yesses” lined up in a row marking the path to the change.

Every yes requires a no. Saying yes to rising early to pray tomorrow morning means saying no to staying up to watch Jimmy Kimmel tonight (I know … sigh). Saying yes to losing weight means saying no to a stop in the ice cream section of the supermarket. Saying yes to tightening our budget means saying no to spontaneous purchases on QVC.

Say yes to change and no to staying the same.

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