A while back, I went on a huge, amazing journey to downsize my life.
I sold my large house and about 70% of everything I owned. I bought a small house on a big lot in L. A. and started a little urban farm. It's been healing, inspiring, and fulfilling.
Along my path to more simplicity and minimalism (still working on these, but have made huge progress), I learned a profound, empowering lesson that applies to so many areas of life.
When it comes to that “thing” we desire, whether it's a piece of clothing, shoes, or a new job… most times, at the end of the day, it's not the thing we're truly after, but the feeling we will have when we get it.
Our true desires are about how we want to feel, not necessarily what we want to have.
Not that a new job, sweater, car, or a pair of shoes isn't great now and then. It's just that many times we find ourselves unfulfilled when we finally get that thing, so we buy more things or go after another job, or relationship, or whatever shiny thing we're drawn to. This can lead to being buried under way too much stuff, or being unsatisfied with a job or relationship we already have because we think we need a new one to be able to feel the way we want to feel.
The key to authentic joy and lasting fulfillment is to first go after the feelings we desire, rather than immediately turning to the external things we think we want. To learn to create them from within. To look for ways to manifest those feelings of joy and satisfaction with what we already have, both from within ourselves and with our current situations or material possessions.
The place to begin is by focusing on the beauty of what is, and allowing feelings of tremendous gratitude to flow, even for the small stuff. Make it a regular practice to look around at all that's in your life and say to yourself, “This is freakin' incredible! ” Allow yourself to really feel it.
When you begin to focus on the feelings instead of the things, two magical things will happen.
First, you'll begin to feel a more sustainable state of joy in your life because you're living from a place of gratitude, recognizing the incredible abundance and gifts that are already in your life. All of the things in your life from material stuff to relationships will become more satisfying and amazing to you. Yes, please!
Second, you'll begin to have an automatic filter in your consciousness that will allow you to be more aware when you're making decisions about purchases or major changes in your life. You can ask yourself, “Is it the thing I really want, or am I just looking for the feelings I think may come with it. ” If the answer is the feelings, you can look inward for ways to create those feelings without the thing. You may even realize you didn't even really want that thing in the first place.
This approach will not only help you have fewer possessions and help keep you from making life changes based on temporary circumstances; it will also make the things you do purchase and the shifts you do choose to make in your life that much more meaningful and mindful. You'll end up with possessions and circumstances in your life that you're totally in love with. And, you won't have a bunch of stuff cluttering your life that just isn't that important to you. How great is that? We can attract what we truly want in life by being grateful for what we already have.
Focusing on the feeling you're looking for is also a great motivation tool.
For example, if you're working on a big project that you really want to complete, but you're feeling a little uninspired and overwhelmed by the steps it will take to finish it, try closing your eyes and allowing yourself to feel the feelings of having completed it. Picture the goal accomplished and feel the fireworks of satisfaction going off in your heart. Talk about inspiration to get moving!
For me, this year, these are practices I plan to incorporate into my efforts in continuing to create this joyful, simple, amazing life that I'm living. I'm grateful for all of it.