These things to let go of can help us all experience a more fulfilling and simple life.
Traditional wisdom says that we need to do MORE to be successful and get ahead. But what if the key to enjoying life more may actually lie in doing less?
Here are eight things we can subtract from our lives to make room for happiness, self-love, and all the wonderful experiences life has to offer.
1. Less Sitting
“Is sitting the new smoking?” asks the author of a Forbes article. A major research study of 2 million people concluded that the life expectancies of people who spend more than three hours a day sitting are two years shorter than than those who sit less than three hours daily.
People who spend six or more hours a day sitting have a 20 percent higher rate of early death.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease, obesity and a host of health problems. So what can those of us who work at a computer do to offset the time spent sitting? Some strategies include:
- Get a standing desk, or a riser for your computer monitor and keyboard.
- Take a walk during your lunch break.
- Ride your bike to work.
- Work in microbursts. Set a timer and work for 25 minutes. Then, take a 5 minute break, get up and move.
2. Less Clutter
According to research conducted by a Boston marketing firm presented by Newsweek, The average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for things that they can’t find.
If we declutter and get organized so that we can find things, we could add nearly an hour of productive time to our days.
A clean, serene space is a gift we give ourselves. Without clutter to weigh us down or distract us, we are free to pursue projects with focus and clarity.
I once toured a hat manufacturing plant in Seoul, Korea. One of the interesting things this company did was to ring a bell every afternoon at 4:45 p.m. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and spent the next 15 minutes cleaning and clearing their work spaces.
Would you like to begin every day with a clean, clear place to work? Other strategies include reducing the amount of paper that flows in by eliminating junk mail, scanning documents instead of printing them, and giving an unused item away every day for a month….or as long as it takes to free up space.
3. Less Drama
Successful people tend to surround themselves with other successful people. How about us? Who do we spend our free time with? Are we engaging with people who challenge us to be better? Do our friends share our dreams, and encourage us? Are our comrades cheering for us to succeed?
On the flip side, have you ever been in a relationship that consistently sapped your energy? Ever known someone who liked you best when you were down? Ever had a “frenemy” who silently cheered when you failed? Have you ever been reluctant to share your good news with someone, because they never seemed happy if you experienced success?
Experts suggest that we ask ourselves a few questions:
- Does this relationship take more energy than it gives?
- Am I able to set and maintain appropriate boundaries?
- Do I dread or look forward to spending time together?
It might be time to let go of bad relationships, and seek out nourishing relationships and friends who are mutually supportive.
4. Less Bad Food
Scientists are increasingly finding a real link between what we eat and how it affects our long-term health. In fact, studies show that healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction can actually reverse some aspects of aging.
A healthy diet can keep the heart healthy, reduce diabetes and risk of some cancers, lower blood pressure, give us stronger bones, and help us live longer.
Eating healthy foods can keep our brains healthy, help us focus and concentrate, and reduce our risk of dementia and Alzheimers.
If we think of food as our fuel to help us be productive and successful, we can embrace vegetables and fruits, clean protein, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats while letting go of processed foods, sugar and saturated fats.
5. Less Debt
The Bible describes debt as a millstone hanging around one’s neck. If like me, you’ve ever had huge debt hanging over your head, you can relate. What if we could completely eliminate unnecessary debt? Some strategies include:
- Stop nonessential spending.
- Quickly save money by going on a money diet.
- Set up a budget.
- Avoid new debt, and pay off existing credit cards as quickly and methodically as possible.
- Take long term steps to simplify finances.
What does a life with no debt look like?
For most of us, it means freedom. Relief from huge monthly payments gives us peace of mind and more money for the things that really matter – funding a business, going on a vacation, giving to those in need.
6. Less Worrying About the Past
Nobody’s perfect, and we all make mistakes and have regrets about the past. If we learn from our slip-ups, embrace what we learned, and move forward, we will eventually grow wiser and stronger.
We may even be able to use our hard-earned life lessons to help someone else who’s struggling.
7. Less Worrying About What Others Think
While it’s great to be kind and considerate to others, there’s a fine line between being nice and trying to please everyone.
Being a people pleaser can be exhausting and even lead to neglecting your own needs and wants. Focus on being true to yourself and your values and embrace those who appreciate you for who you are.
8. Less Comparing Ourselves to Others
President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We’re all different, with unique talents and strengths. Instead of wasting energy on comparisons, focus on growth and progress.
Celebrate your achievements, big and small, and know that everyone has their own journey. Embrace your individuality, and you’ll find a sense of contentment and confidence within yourself.
How About You?
What are the things you might want to let go of, to be more productive, successful and happy? Drop a comment below!
This article was originally published on Dec. 21, 2016 and updated on July 22, 2023.