Is Your Life Filled Up With Junk?

45139724 - depressed business womanWhen I go jogging, I like to listen to podcasts. They keep my mind busy as I run. This is good because it distracts my mind from how tired my body is. So jogging is easier for it.

Each time I jog, I choose a podcast to download and take on my run with me.

A few days ago I was scrolling through the episodes of the podcasts I subscribe to. I was trying to find something to listen to that would fit my mood.

I was reading the summaries of each episode when I saw a quote that affected me.

It was from a woman called Sally Hogshead. She is the CEO of Fascinate Inc. She has spent an interesting career in advertising.

Here’s what she said about a company’s communications. It may have been just about marketing. But it was inadvertently spiritual.

“You’re either adding value or you’re taking up space.”

I wrote it down.

I thought of all the email I get from various companies and coaches. Some add value. Most take up space. Those are just junk. What do I do with them? I delete them.

I thought of communications I’d sent out myself, either as a musician or a blogger or a coach.

I am thinking about this post I am writing now. Will this add value or take up space? I hope it will add value. I hope I am sharing something that will be useful.

I also know that some of my past communications perhaps haven’t. Wince.

Then I realised that this benchmark applies to life generally.

I’m half way through a declutter at the moment. I’m trying to get rid of the useless stuff I own. I want to live in a peaceful, minimalist environment.

This is a challenge for me because wherever I go, paper explodes around me.

I’ve done well with my studio and my living room. I’ve thrown out a lot of stuff that nobody could need.

I’ve given some stuff I don’t need to people who do. I’ve given the rest to charity stores.

By doing so, I’ve liberated those objects from a state of junk to a state of usefulness. It has served others in the process.

Yet I’ve put a lot of the stuff from my living room and my studio into my “junk room” for later sorting. Anyone else have one of those? A room – just for junk?

I walked into it and looked around. I picked up the first thing in front of me. I asked it the question: “Are you adding value? Or are you taking up space?”

This one question is the key to living a minimalist life. I don’t just mean minimalism when it comes to stuff. But to everything.

After all, if something isn’t adding value, why keep it around?

Take my thoughts for instance. Which ones add value and which ones take up space? Where am I directing my attention, and is that valuable?

I browse news sites to check out which new miserable things have occurred in the world. Does that add value to me, or to anyone else? If not, why do it?

I check my bank account. I spend money daily on this bill or that bill, this purchase or that subscription. Which of those bills add value, and which ones just take up space in my finances?

I think of the people I spend time with, who are in my social and professional circle. Do they add value to me? Or are they taking up space? And how about me to them?

I ponder how I spend my time. Some ways that I spend time add value, either to me or to others. Some things add value to both. Yet other things drain me, and nobody else benefits either. It’s time to cut those things from my life.

Life is a collection of choices about how we manage limited resources.

We can only have so much stuff. Yet the concept of enough can elude us. We only have so much time before we die. We only have so much money each month. We only have so much space on the planet. We can only have so many people who are meaningful in our lives.

When we direct our attention here in this moment, by definition we are not directing it there. When we say yes to this, we are also saying no to everything else.

My junk room is overloaded at the moment. I can barely navigate my way around it.

A beautiful, enjoyable room could be available instead. Or maybe even a smaller home if the room isn’t needed.

We only have so much of anything. We each deserve better than a life filled up with junk.

Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice

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