We have two lives: the one we learn with and the life we live after that. —Bernard Malamud
My 40’s have undoubtedly been the hardest and best years of my life so far. I have grieved, walked through pain, moved kids to college, learned to rest. I’ve learned to love myself in earnest and show up through fear, I’ve healed and done hard things, put down deeper roots.
It has been a season of learning to let go of what no longer serves.
While I am a slow & simple advocate, it is neither the pursuit of simplicity nor absence of stuff alone that determines my happiness. My happiness is rooted instead in a sense of freedom, of living on purpose, and in inner calm.
Happiness grows its tenacious roots inside of me.
I Joyfully Decluttered These 5 Things to Boost Happiness
1. Needing you to like me
Care about what others think and you will always be their prisoner. —Lao Tzu
One of the greatest obstacles to my freedom—and happiness—is caring much what others think of me. I stopped saying yes out of obligation, trying to be a good girl or please others at the expense of my mental health or family. I packed up my efforts at trying to keep up perfectly and made more space to laugh, create, and simply breathe.
I appreciate the wise advice of Brené Brown who suggests we take a 1 x 1 inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to us—those people who love and accept us with all our quirks and imperfections. “If you need more paper, you need to edit,” she encourages. Interestingly, I don’t need you to like me as much now because I’ve decided to like myself.
The more I have come to like and appreciate myself—to see my strengths and weaknesses with neither shame nor ego, my happiness grows. As I offer myself more compassion and learn to move through perfectionism, fear, and comparison, I am also more able to pour out compassion for others and show up with courage to serve.
2. Needing to know all the answers
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers. —Rainer Maria Rilke
One of the bulkiest pieces of baggage I’ve decluttered was my desperate need to have health and faith, parenting and marriage, all figured out with a surefire 7-step program, no questions or fears remaining. I wanted certainty and rules and a perfect framework to guide me—instead I lived dripping with anger and anxiety.
To boost happiness, I needed to make space for the questions. I have learned through challenging circumstances to loosen my grip and make space for more mystery and possibility. To trust that I can do hard things and no matter what, I will be OK.
Releasing an imaginary construct of how life “should be” allows me to step out onto the small bit of light ahead of me. I show up curious now—one step and then another—and experience far greater joy on this messy journey. I don’t need to control my world or have all the answers to feel safe. I can just show up messy, imperfect, and real.