It’s all just stuff…
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Two recent events have me to thinking about the stuff we accumulate in our modern lives:

  • My daughter and son-in-law are moving almost half-way across the country. Their months-long journey to find a new house while preparing to sell their current house has involved letting go of stuff they won’t need, as well as defining what they will need in this next chapter of their lives.
  • A few months ago, my husband was diagnosed with an illness that has upended our lives, requiring us to redefine what is important, and how to fill our days without knowing what the future will bring – spending time and energy where it best serves us now, and letting go of activities and attitudes that cause distraction.

Defining Stuff…

…things you surrounded yourself with; things you allow to define you…

Possessions: these can be tangible items collected over time which are still useful, or may be packed away out of sight. They can be relationships that are still satisfying, or may have run their course. Some possessions are sentimental—reminders of people or events that elicit positive memories. Others may be symbols of status or how we want to be “seen” by the world—a certain group of friends, a new phone, car or bigger house– even though what we have still works or fills a purpose. Where did all this stuff come from? What does it represent for me? Possessions can take on a life of their own or box you into a certain lifestyle.

Assumptions: beliefs about people, lifestyle, status, “shoulds” and expectations–yours and others. Many people move through life without examining assumptions…Why do I feel that way? What’s that about? Is that what I really believe? Do I really need that? Unexamined assumptions can create a lot of stuff that may or may not be aligned with your purpose.

Habits: patterns of behavior you’ve picked up over the years that continue without conscious thought – that may or might not fit your life now. “Why am I doing that?

Distractions: technology, social media, schedules, others’ agendas—anything that prevents living life purposefully or limits time for personal reflection and planning. “How can I be present and purposeful in my life, rather than reacting to everything around me, or creating a fantasy life on social media?” Align your focus and effort with the life you choose to lead—including a rich inner life with time for reflection, and the ability to say no to people or activities that don’t fit with your “full life”.  

Over time, it’s easy to become unaware of all the stuff we’ve accumulated or how it impacts our lives. On one house-hunting trip with my daughter, we saw houses so filled with stuff that it was hard to imagine what it would be like to live there. I’m sure the owners had no idea, and probably wondered why their beloved houses didn’t sell immediately. 

Addressing the “stuff” in our lives means asking some Good Questions:

  • What really matters to you in your full life? What are the things, people and experiences that feed your soul and bring you joy? How do you want to be remembered?
  • What have you accumulated in your life, and why? What do you need to hold on to? What no longer fits?
  • Why do you hold on things that no longer “fit’” with your life?
  • What would happen if you were to let go of those things?

Bottom-line: Consider what’s important to you in your life – what you need to live a satisfying and productive life? Then, take a hard look at the stuff in your life, imagining you are moving half-way across the country and can only take the things that will serve you well in your next chapter. Determine what is no longer useful, and what will serve you well as you move forward.

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