Tis’ the season. Soon, all your friends will be making their New Year’s resolutions. They’re going to want that six pack in the new year. Or that new gig, new relationship, new car, new financial situation, new meditation routine, new wardrobe, new ‘look’, and everything else on every resolution list I’ve ever written (did I just say that?).
At this point, I’d like to ask you something (because I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately). Does this ever work? Does getting more stuff ever make us truly fulfilled come mid-spring when we’ve cancelled our gym membership, maxed out our credit cards, and missed our scheduled meditation for the eighth day straight?
This year, I’d like to propose something different… Something that flies in the face of most new year’s resolutions.
Every year, my family and I invite over some friends and have a Winter Solstice party. Towards the end of the evening, we have a tradition where we pass out little slips of paper and pens. On the paper, we ask our guests to write down one thing – could be a physical object, a person, a personal quality, a tendency, etc. – that they want to get rid of in the new year (no, we don’t condone murder, but if one wants to take this tradition to this level, there’s nothing we can do). When they’re done, they fold their paper in half to conceal their answer and hand them to me. I then tie them all to a yule log and burn it in the fire pit. The rest of the evening, we warm our hands over our sacrificial offerings. It’s incredible how many of our guests find this exercise overwhelmingly refreshing.
We’re largely a ‘wish’ culture…
I wish for this or that.
If only I had that one thing, I’d be fulfilled.
This year, I invite you to join me in the minimalist mentality of getting rid of the dead weight to make room for the things that really matter in life.
Less stuff, more experiences.
Less crap, more quality.
Less heartache, more laughs.
Less debt, more abundance.
Less stress, more flow.
Less negative people, more supportive/loving ones.
I think you’ll find this whole ‘shedding the weight’ mentality to be extremely invigorating and life-affirming compared to the consumerist society we’ve been brought up in.
Not only that, but being a spiritual guy, I realize the ancient, timeless virtue of shedding the baggage.
“Acquire no more here than what is absolutely necessary.” – Hermas
“Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” – Saint Augustine
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers
So, this new years, I wish for you to realize this as well. I’m here to say you don’t need to get, purchase, accumulate, or do anything major this year. You already have everything you need to have an incredible 2017 – in fact, the focus should be placed on getting rid of the nonsense so you can get out of your own way and enjoy it.
Here’s some things I’ve been considering adding to my ‘un-resolution’ list for 2017 that you’re more than welcome to use in your own life.
1. Cheap, low-quality clothes and accessories
If you’ve been hanging around One-Upped for any time, you’re in the right place. We’re all about investing a little more on the stuff that makes you feel amazing to put on so you can rid your closet of the stuff that falls apart after the first wash. What if every item in your closet made you look and feel like a million bucks?
2. Negative people
You know who they are. These people weigh heavy on you and drain you of energy. You keep thinking it’ll get better, but it never does. Create some room between your life and theirs. Let them find someone else to glom on to. The only way that people who light you up can enter your life is if you make room for them.
3. Negative self-talk
We get enough from the world at-large, the last person we need in our way is ourselves. Pay attention to how you’re talking to yourself. When your inner voice sounds like that annoying roommate, switch the tape and change the inner-dialogue to a more loving, supportive voice. You’re in charge of this. Don’t forget that.
4. Nervous consumption
It’s crazy how many times I go to Amazon.com when I’m nervous. Nothing gives us a quick dopamine hit than an impulse buy. Same thing goes with eating/drinking/worse when the nerves get agitated. Thing is, the aftermath is usually where we suffer. We get the thing and we wonder where we’re going to put it. We see the credit card statement and wonder what the hell we were thinking. We come down afterwards. Keep a sharp eye and go take a walk instead.
5. A huge fitness routine
This is huge for new years. I’ve read that 80% of the New Years Resolutions crowd drops off by the second week of February. Why? We make such a huge deal out of it. Start small. Do 30 pushups first thing in the morning. Split firewood with an axe, not a splitter. (When you ixnay some of the things on this list, you might be able to make room for a personal trainer to help curb the early-February blues).
6. Being in a hurry
Speeding does absolutely no good. Neither does gritting your teeth and wishing a slow, horrid death on the driver in front of you. You’ll actually be able to move like a ninja through traffic and arrive at your destination more composed if you do the opposite and chill the eff out.
We’re dudes. Most of our overachieving tendencies are nothing but a pissing contest that we’re not even conscious of. Take notice at the stuff that stresses you out so much. Working 70 hours a week and hurting yourself on the raquetball court? Why? Does it truly bring you life? Or are you just trying to keep up? My guess is the latter. See what you can drop and enjoy your time away from the grind.
8. The need for certainty
We’ve grown into quite the rational species. If we can’t predict it, we go nuts. We run ourselves ragged trying to ensure that our extended future is certain. Work those extra hours to sock away for retirement so we can live ‘one day’. Don’t commit to that person if you’re not absolutely sure it will work out. Try letting some of that go. Live more from your gut. In the moment. Trust life. Dance with uncertainty. Give your rational, logical mind a break and find the flow.
9. The need to be happy
Happiness is a huge industry. The Coke and the smile. The happy meal. The happy hour. I could go on. Sometimes, things just… Suck. Our culture isn’t good at being unhappy. We tend to numb it out or develop complexes around that emotion. I recommend dropping the need to be constantly happy. If you do this, you can accept your unhappiness as just something that… Happens. (It’s amazing how happy this will actually make you.)
10. Recurring payments
Maybe you have an unused bank account you’re paying fees for every month. Or a gym membership you keep hoping you’ll go back to. Or a magazine or website subscription that dings you every month but sits unused. Comb through your statement and cancel the ones you don’t use to free up some finances for savings or something of value.
11. Email subscriptions
This one is big. Our inboxes are swelling at the seams. Yes, these are mostly free. But no one likes that overwhelming feeling of dread when we open that inbox to see 1,587 unread emails. Brew a french press of coffee, take the afternoon, sit down, and unsubscribe from as many of these as you can. The UnRoll Me tool will help expedite the process.
12. Large portions of food
I had a friend who bought an old cabin on a lake as a vacation home. When he was moving his family’s stuff in, he noticed his plates didn’t fit in the cabinets. Our serving size in the US has increased dramatically over the years. One great way to lose weight and feel lighter is to decrease your portions. Buy a stack of smaller appetizer-size plates and use these as your primary ones. It works.
13. Apps for that. And that. And that…
Let’s face it. We have too many apps. There’s no need for four weather apps, eight social media apps, four meditation apps, and six photo editing apps. Try getting it down to two screens. If you can get it down to one, you’ll have achieved ultimate cell phone zen mastery.
I donated my DVD player earlier this year and have not missed it since. This meant that I also gave away eight huge boxes of DVD’s. I know. Sounds like a lot. But I realized as I was doing this that 90% of them, I’d only watched once or twice over the last several years. If I ever wanted to watch them again, I could rent/purchase them on Amazon Prime or Netflix. No need to take up physical space when they’re in the cloud now (plus, the digital ones don’t scratch and skip as easy).
Same thing as DVD’s and Blu Rays. Kindles are awesome. Carry an entire library in your pocket. Download the Kindle app for your phone and read books inconspicuously on the toilet (c’mon, we all do this – and it’s much better than melting your brain on Facebook or Instagram). If you’re a mad highlighting fool like me, you can also toss out your highlighters as the app has this capability built in).
16. Physical photos
This one can be tedious, but grab a digital photo scanner and make a ceremony out of it. Get your kids involved. It’ll give you a reason to (1) open up those dusty boxes in the garage (2) go over some family history, and (3) clear some room – all at the same time.
As you recite your resolutions with your pals at the pub this new years eve, they’ll be foaming at the mouth announcing their lust for more in their lives, while you’ll wait calmly your turn (go last for even greater theatrical effect) and astound them like a warrior monk with your minimalist un-resolutions.
This is just a beginner list. I’m sure you can come up with many more ways to shed the dead weight in the new year. To that, I wish you a much lighter, yet fuller, 2017.