Most of the time we’re talking about letting go, about simplifying our house, our calendar, our life, about getting rid of what we already have, of what we’re already doing.

But are we conscious about what we’re letting in? About what we keep on accepting? About what we’re adding to our life or to other people’s lives?

Let’s take a look at

how we can protect our energy, 

how we can prevent stuff to come our way, 

how we can make our lives and other people’s lives lighter by not adding anything to our and their lives.

I know this may sound strange but we can burden people with our well-meant presents, with our feeling-obligated-to-accept invitations.

Once we have a very clear view on how things can really eat up our energy,

once we feel comfortable communicating about what gives us energy and what not,

then other people will feel free to be honest too about what they like and what feels like a burden.

The more we are open, the more we feel free to choose what are energy-givers, the more we will enjoy true friendship, true love, true life.

Let’s get a look at what we could avoid sneaking in:

In your home:

  • Too much food: make a weekly list of what you actually need, and buy nothing more. This will prevent you from having an overstuffed fridge which is very unpractical and draining, because you can’t find what you need and you risk things falling out and having to clean it up. It also saves you from having to throw away good food that has spoiled.
  • Too much decorations: it’s nice to have a cozy house but 1 or 2 cushions on your sofa are as comfy as 5 or 6, having plants are wonderful but we don’t need to create a jungle in our house, a candle on a little table is lovely but don’t make it a shrine, … I can go on and on about how less decorations will actually make you enjoy your house, and your decorations, more. If you want to read more about this, you can read all about it in my book “Less is Yes!”.
  • Too much kitchen supplies: only buy what you will actually use and store it in a cupboard, because it eats up more of your energy to see it all the time, than it does taking it out when you need it and putting it away again when you’re done. Visual stimuli can create a stress that sneaks in very silently because you would never look for the cause of it here, in having stuff sitting on your countertop.
  • Free stuff: only accept samples you’re going to use, say ‘no thank’ whenever someone is offering you something you know you don’t want.
  • Books: and yes, me too, guilty as charged in this department, I really try to buy as little as possible because your house gets fuller and there are great alternatives like: the library, e-books, and what I particularly like are those little exchange boxes you see in a lot of villages: you take one book out and you put one in: that way there is no extra book coming in your house.
  • Gifts: this is a very tricky one but so worth it once you’ve had the courage to discuss it with friends and family. I would encourage you to take on the topic now before the Holiday Gift Season starts again. Let them know that love and friendship is not measured by the amount of gifts, discuss openly what you would like instead: going for a walk together, having a picknick together, going to a concert together, … whatever works for you, it doesn’t have to cost money, the most important thing about exchanging gifts is showing you like each other, and that can take any form you like. Even helping each other doing chores, or following some classes together, it really doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you really add pleasure to that person’s life and not just stuff.

In your office:

  • Do not subscribe to anything unless it is adding something meaningful to your work.
  • Ask people not to send you any paperwork or electronic documents that are not useful to you.
  • Don’t accept pens and other stuff you get for free and throw away all pens, pencils, … that do not work properly and all that is just sitting there, gathering dust.
  • Get rid of doubles: if you have a calculator on your phone, do you still use a separate calculator? No? Get rid of it.
  • Archive what you need to keep but get rid of all the rest.
  • Keep on your desk what you’re currently working on and file all the rest: a clean desk helps you think more clearly, see more clearly, be more creative.

In your life:

Once you’ve made a very clear image for yourself of what gives you energy and what doesn’t, it’s a lot easier to know what you still let in your life and what to say no to.

  • Say no to invitations when you don’t feel like going: people ask you but it’s your choice whether you accept or not. Be very conscious before you say yes. As Courtney Carver** says: “It’s easier to take back a no, than to take back a yes.”
  • Think before you enroll into any class: do you have time for this? Because not everything that is fun will give you more energy: when you have to stress to squeeze it into an already overloaded agenda, it might be a good idea to wait to start taking those classes until you have the time for it.
  • Hobbies are nice, but here too, take only on what gives you energy and wait to take on more until there is room for it in your life. For instance: I love to grow my own vegetables but right now, I don’t have time to do this because I prefer to go volunteering 2 days a week in a wildlife rescue center. It’s a choice I make to avoid getting drained.

It’s as they say:

You can have anything but you can’t have everything.

Choose wisely, enjoy what you’re doing right now and if you want to, you can always switch and start doing something else. As long as you’re very conscious about your energy. Make sure that what you’re doing, is adding pleasure to your life and that it is not becoming a burden in your life.

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*’Less is Yes!’ by Katrien Degraeve

**’Be More with Less’ by Courtney Carver

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