For the past few months, many have been jumping on the bandwagon of organization thanks to the Netflix show, Tidying Up, where Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo helps ordinary people clean up the clutter in their lives and keep only the items that spark joy. It’s a movement toward positive change that highlights the importance of looking within, deciding what we want, and then taking action to make it happen.
It’s true that by releasing our burdens of the unnecessary “things” we often surround ourselves with (and mistakenly believe that we need), we are better able to focus on finding joy in the every day. When I was younger, I had a friend whose mother grew up on a farm in the middle of America during the early part of the twentieth century, miles away from any town. All she had to play with on a hot summer day while sitting under the one shade tree near their house was a ragged doll. At the time, my friend and I were horrified. How could she possibly have been happy with just that one scruffy doll to keep her occupied? My friend’s mother, who still leads a simple life well into her nineties, firmly stated to us then that she was completely happy having less than more while growing up. Although many years have passed since then, I have never forgotten that story or her valuable message that living simply is perhaps the key to living happily ever after.
Today, I’d like to challenge you to consider this introspective question:
If you lived somewhere that provided all of the basic necessities like loved ones, a bathroom, comfortable furniture, a few dishes, food, and drink, what five things would you need in order to be happy?
If you close your eyes, what pops into your head as the things you cannot live without? For me, it is a good pair of hiking boots, a plethora of books, a computer or a pad that allows me a place to write, a method to play music, and a camera. The total value of all five things is probably around $1,000. I can confidently guarantee you that if I was surrounded by just these five items and nothing else in life, I would be gloriously happy no matter what my challenges or obstacles. But why?
Hiking boots provide me a comfortable way to step into nature and enjoy the wilderness, books offer me a way to escape into imaginary worlds that allow me to contemplate possibilities, a computer or a pad of paper invite me to continue to pursue my passion of writing and sharing stories with others, a method to play music allows me the chance to feel bonded with others around the world who also adore a great song, and a camera provides me with a way to capture an experience and reflect on it whenever I want. In short, all the items I have listed provide me with one major thing I need no matter what: peace.
Once you have identified the five things you need in life, write them down along with an explanation as to why. After your list and explanations are compiled, reflect on how you feel now about your life from this day forward. In a general sense, creating this list should help you feel more relaxed and at peace about your future.
It’s a tough reality to accept when we suddenly realize there are no guarantees in life. But when we compile a list of the five things we really need in order to be happy on a daily basis, it allows us a safe place to take a deep breath, calm ourselves down, and understand that no matter what happens down the road, we are going to be okay.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.