Simple Ways to Lighten Things Up

July 12, 2021

The times we are living in can feel heavy. If you’ve been carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, it’s time to set that down and lighten things up. Here are a few simple ideas to consider.

Dump It Out

What things are weighing on your mind? Whether you’re anxious about the future of humanity or that stack of papers on your desk—take out a pen and paper and write it all down. Keep writing, from the silly to the profound. Get every idea that is taking up space in your mind onto the page. When you truly feel as if you’ve captured it all, you’re done.

Take a deep breath, pour yourself a soothing beverage, and relax. Recognize any sense of relief that comes from this simple act of what’s known as a “brain dump.” Set aside your list. If you’re so inclined, take a walk outside or even a nap.

Let Go of All You Can’t Control

Later—hours or days later—return to your brain dump. If anything else has since popped up for you, go ahead and add it. As you review your collection of concerns, begin searching for those you have no control over. Some examples of things you can’t control include the weather; the past and future; thoughts, feelings, and actions of others; and the constraints of space and time.

Cross out every item on your list that you realize you can’t control. As you cross off, imagine the worries over these things disintegrating from your mind and from your realm of responsibility. Let them go.

Let Go of Irrelevant Things

Now, return to your list. You may find items that actually aren’t very significant by your own standards—items that you don’t want to spend any more time thinking about or expending energy on. Find those and cross them off. Let them go.

Make the Best List Ever

You may be thinking, “Another list?!” Stay with me here. This one is the idea of productivity guru David Allen as described in his classic book, “Getting Things Done.” This list is called a “Someday/Maybe” list, and it’s one you’ll want to keep.

Looking back at your brain dump, choose the items that you may want to do something about in the future, or those you simply want to remember, but that aren’t priorities for you right now. Add these items to your Someday/Maybe list and cross them off your brain-dump list.

When you’re done, you can rest assured that you’ve captured these ideas and you can view them at any time. Keep your Someday/Maybe list in an accessible location and add to it whenever you wish. You’ll probably find that now that these items are captured, you no longer need to expend mental energy worrying about them.

What’s more, if you look at your brain dump now, what’s left should be only those things you deem a priority and that you can do something about. You’ve lightened the load! “Getting Things Done” is an excellent resource for systematizing your productivity from this point.

Declutter

The number of possessions you live with and maintain can really weigh you down. What items are no longer serving you? Begin to let things go and lighten the load.

You may feel compelled to tackle this in a big way—going through every corner of your home and keeping only the items that “spark joy,” as Marie Kondo would say. If you’ve got the time and motivation, go for it. You’ll feel lighter in a jiffy.

If a more gradual approach suits you, set out a few receptacles by your front door ready to collect any items you choose to part with as you go about your days. When one is full, bring it directly to where you’re donating the items—or at least to the trunk of your car. Replace the full box or bag with a new one and make this habit a part of your life. You’ll feel more and more lightness as time goes on.

Reduce the Noise

Just as material clutter impacts your physical environment, consider the mental, emotional, and spiritual impact of the entertainment and media you consume. Can you reduce the noise and find more stillness, quiet, and peace?

We’re all fully aware that the various forms of media consumption available are largely addictive, so this may be challenging, but possibly the most beneficial.

A few strategies to consider include utilizing your phone’s screen time tracking to set new goals for yourself, continually reducing engagement.

You might also set rules for yourself and your family such as: The television can only be turned on during certain hours; when you’re home, all digital devices must remain on their chargers in a common area of the home; or every Sunday, everyone takes a break from all forms of media.

Consider how you feel after you spend time on social media or watching the news. What if you stepped away from them for a while or checked them only at brief, set times?

Reducing the messages that are flooding your mind and influencing your thoughts and emotions is a surefire way to lighten things up.

Consider Your Spirit

Whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not—allow yourself to explore what a spiritual life is all about. If you’ve been bogged down by the material world, perhaps the antidote lies beyond it. Take your newfound lightness to explore those big ideas that have been passed down through the centuries. You may experience the light, or enlightenment, that you’ve truly been seeking.

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