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When Less is More: Decluttering Your Mind, Your Body, and Your Life


We live in a culture where are constantly taught to crave more. Ad firms figure work around the clock to figure out new ways to tantalize us and the global economy gives us access to things our parents never dreamed of. From an early age, the fire of consumption is lit beneath us, and unless you pause and choose to remove yourself from the heat, it will totally consume you. As author Gordana Biernat put it, we are meant to be collectors of experiences, but we’ve become collectors of things.

You don’t need to look far to see the negative consequences. Black Friday shopping was one thing. Now people will push back from the Thanksgiving dinner table, say goodbye to their families, and go shopping that very night. Not only are material goods antithetical to real fulfillment, constant consumption only creates more need. No matter how big your home is, how fast your car can go, how full your closet or toy chest is, it will never be enough. As the lack of fulfillment-increased need cycle perpetuates, it drives you toward a breakdown that you never see coming.

In such an environment, it’s hard to remember that sometimes doing less and having less actually gives you more. It sounds so counterintuitive to what we are very well trained to think our lives should be. Think of it. Its always, run further, push harder, get promoted, acquire more stuff, be involved and be a perfect human while achieving all of it. I see it all the time in my yoga room. Students pushing so hard, as if their life depended on it and they can’t maintain the posture long enough to get any benefit. I always say don’t chase the posture, let the posture come to you. It’s a hard pill to swallow and it’s such a mirror for what we do with our lives.

The fancy car and big house come with the bigger price tag, which means at some point you are working more to get that and, quite frankly, living less. If your schedule is so jam packed and you are always on to the next thing, your mind can never be on the present, enjoying fully whatever is in front of you. You are constantly anticipating the next thing and it probably leaves you feeling like your life is a speeding train with no destination in sight. This holiday season give the gift of time. Plan to meet an old friend for coffee, bake cookies with your kids, get a massage.

Or, quite simply, unplug and be alone with your thoughts. You might be surprised by how much you appreciate your own company. And you might just realize that everything you need isn’t out there. It’s already in here.

Heather Quinlan is a fitness author and certified Bikram Yoga instructor. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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