What is Essential?

What is Essential?

There is a current popular trend that involves the process of taking a look at the material items we have accumulated over the years, and through sorting and assessment, start taking the steps to purge the possessions that no longer hold use or value in order to simplify our lives.

The idea behind this concept is that it allows us to focus on the things that truly matter without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items that have accumulated in our lives which have become burdens rather than things that enrich us. This process is known as minimalism and is the pursuit of contentment through the acquisition of less.

This concept allows us to step back to assess our situations and if it is something that we feel no longer speaks to our desires and outlooks, we can begin to free ourselves of our material burdens and embrace our environments, whether it’s our homes, work or creative spaces, by removing the distraction of clutter and allowing us to focus more on the things that personally matter.

I am someone, who for most of my life, has found comfort in the acquisition of certain material things in order to bring a sense of completeness. My mother always used to say that I had a “collection of collections”, because if I had more than one of something, I would have the need to complete a set. My passion was music and books and over the years I have developed an extensive collection.

I loved obtaining new music from an artist I loved or someone new that I was just introduced to, or the anticipation of sitting down to read a book I was excited about. Over the years, my collection began to grow and what was originally the joy of discovering new works, became the need to acquire in order to fill in the empty spaces on my shelves. I would like to think that I truly valued each purchase, but often it was more out of the need to fulfill a habit than the desire to really embrace the works.

Once I became familiar with the concept of minimalism, I began to slowly take steps to look at what I have acquired over the years and became determined to purge the items that I no longer felt a personal connection with, and let go of the things that no longer felt necessary to hold on to.

This is not always an easy process, but what I discovered was that by letting go of the things that no longer needed to be a focus in my life, instead of experiencing a sense of loss or discomfort, I began to feel free. I was able to look at the things that really mattered and I began to rediscover things that I treasured that had become overlooked over the years.

As I went through this process, I began to discover that much like the material possessions in my life that began to overwhelm me, I began to realize that I was also getting overwhelmed with the balance of things in my life that were drawing my focus and attention. I thought I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve both personally and professionally and I would get inspired about all the things that I would be able to accomplish, but even when there was so much to look forward to, it created a sense of anxiety instead of joy.

It’s imperative that we live our lives with a balance but it’s okay to take a look at all of the things that we want to accomplish and begin to set priorities. We are not required to commit to everything all the time and sometimes the things we are working through that we are passionate about suddenly lose the appeal that it once had. When that happens, we need to reassess what is essential to us right now and give ourselves permission to set other things aside for a while.

Much like the material possessions in our lives that we no longer deem to be essential, we sometimes need to give ourselves permission to let go of the things that are occupying our energy and allow ourselves the chance to focus on what  really excites us at this moment. Everything we are meant to do will always be there, but sometimes we need step back and allow ourselves to simplify our lives.

Learn to live a fulfilling life rather than a life of fulfilling others expectations.

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2 thoughts on “What is Essential?

  1. Thank you for another thoughtful and relevant offering, Michael.
    I agree with your observations about the value of letting go of that which no longer serves you and have experienced in my own life the transformative effects of going down this path.
    A seminal moment for me, about 10 years ago, was at a time when I was looking for a new apartment to live in. I realized that the style and size of apartment that I was considering was due, in large part, to my requirements to house my belongings. I had moved a few times in the years prior to that time and each time I let go of a bit more of my ‘stuff’. The epiphany that I had during that particular move was that I was working within a formula that did not serve my life well. It went something like this:
    -I have a certain amount of stuff that I need to house.
    -Much of that stuff I could probably easily do without, though I would certainly miss some of it.
    -The size of the living space I have dictates what kind of, and how much, work I must have to afford that living space.
    -The kind and amount of work I do directly affects how I pursue my passions outside of work.
    Therefore…if I get rid of unnecessary stuff, I can live in a smaller space, lighten the load financially and psychologically that ‘stuff’ brings with it and free up my mind and money to pursue the things in life that matter most to me. So, I basically inverted the formula that I had been living: Working in ways and amounts that I did not want to in order to house belongings became letting go of belongings to free up my life.
    By the time I found myself relocating to Sweden, I moved here with three instruments and three large suitcases. Some of my loved belongings still remain in Canada to be brought over when reasonable but they really on take up about a large closet’s worth of space.
    Letting go of material possessions and ways of thinking and behaving that no longer serve you is a tried and true path to greater freedom within yourself and your life.
    Thanks again for these writings, Michael.

    1. Thank you Gerry. I appreciate the kind words and am glad that you got value from my message. This is not something that is easy for any of us to adapt to, but the process of letting go of either material possessions or personal commitments, no matter how important that they may seem to us at the time, will allow us to step back and see what is truly important. It helps us clear our head and get more focused on the things that are important at that moment.

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