As I’ve gotten older, I’ve downsized. My living quarters are much smaller, and I have a lot fewer possessions. I’ve found I can live quite comfortably without a rice maker or four different brands of chardonnay, or ten pairs of black pants (I make do with five pairs). I’ve even gone so far as to let go of my car! I’m not suggesting this is the way for everyone as they age, but personally, I feel a lot freer, lighter, and more unencumbered with less stuff.
I’ve also been looking at downsizing or letting go of habits that don’t support the ‘freer, lighter, and more unencumbered’ feelings. Some of these habits I’ve had a lifetime, and some have been acquired in my later years. It makes no difference when they appeared; it’s time to re-evaluate their usefulness in my life.
Some of these habits have kept me from experiencing a greater sense of joy, contentedness, and enthusiasm for life. I’m only illustrating five habits I’m letting go of. There are many more.
While you’re cleaning out the garage, closets, and/or storage sheds, take a look at the clutter in your mind that squeezes out happiness. If you spend all your time re-running old, negative tapes in your head, there’ll be no room for the positive, more uplifting habits you’ve acquired, and which support your upbeat life. We all have sh*t from the past, embarrassing or stupid things we’ve done and said. At this point, all the shi*t is just clutter dragging you down. Let it go!
Over the years, I’ve become an expert at putting myself down, of making myself less than or not good enough. Like clutter, self-criticism has no place in your heart or in your soul. The mantra now, more than ever before, is you are good enough, you do deserve the best, and there’s no need to compare yourself with anyone else.
What about being older makes us want to trade in being articulate and interesting into being a person who complains all the time? Get a group of elders together and the main thread of any conversation seems to turn to what’s wrong in the world or what’s bad in their lives, or their kids’ lives, etc. We’ve become experts in complaining. Incessant complaining is a habit. This bears repeating: complaining is a habit. You can stop complaining or greatly reduce the amount you complain if you want to. It takes awareness and focus to let got of the habit of complaining. I’ve found the most difficult part of this practice of not complaining comes up in groups when I see us spiraling down the b*tching path and saying out loud: “Gosh, we’re complaining a lot. Let’s change the subject to something more positive. What’s the best thing you’ve seen on TV lately?” Practice, practice.
- Trying to change others
I fear our spouses, kids, and our closest friends bear the brunt of us trying to “help them” get rid of annoying habits. Of course, our practice is to love, respect, and honor them all just the way they are. Knowing that, however, doesn’t make me let go of “ … if you did it this way, it’d be better, smarter, happier, less costly, etc.” Better for whom? There have been numerous occasions when I’ve thought I was just telling the truth or providing a benefit to someone else. In the spirit of realizing my own foibles, I’m working hard to downsize or eliminate that habit of trying to change or ‘improve’ someone else completely. Is there someone in your life you always try to change or improve?
These are just a couple of the more negative habits I’m trying to downsize or eliminate. Do any of my habits to let go of strike a chord with you too? What are some other habits to release and thus make room for more joy and happiness?
Whether you eliminate entirely or just downsize some of your less useful habits, I guarantee there’ll be more room for the good stuff.
Let the change begin now.
Antonia, you hit the nail on the head. I find it much easier to downsize clutter than I do to downsize habits. Thanks for encouraging me to let the change begin!
Thanks for getting a good nudge from my words, Mary. These are unconscious habits for me, and I constantly have to take stock and move some out to make room for more uplifting ones.