Cut the Fat, Transform Your Life

DenaSeptember 10, 2009

Photograph Credit
Chaos, sloth, toxicity, greed, gluttony, rage, envy. How often do you experience feelings like this? If the answer is anything but rarely or never, then you need to consider altering your lifestyle.

The reality is that in today’s world there are endless opportunities to feel bad. We’ve got climate issues, population issues, crime issues, financial issues. The list goes on. If you are not satisfied with complaining about the problems that you do have, you can always get upset about the things that you don’t have. Just turn on the TV. It will remind you that you don’t have a supermodel wife. You don’t have a fleet of $90,000 cars in your driveway. You don’t have the money to take your dream vacation to Fiji. This list goes on, too. In fact, if you really want to be miserable, my friend Tim has got a whole post about how to do it at his blog The Discomfort Zone.

But, this post is not about being miserable. This post is actually about being happy. It is about taking all of the crap that makes you miserable and cutting it out of your life. The process is a lot more simple than you might think. And more importantly, I guarantee that if you make these changes today, you will be happier tomorrow. All you’ve got to do is cut the fat.

You’ve probably been hearing this everywhere lately. The concept is huge, the results are life-changing. It’s all about minimalism. Simply put, minimalism means cutting out the excess in your life. Your surroundings are a great place to start.

You are sitting at your desk about to start a very important project (a painting, a novel, a proposal, an estimate, anything really). Now imagine two scenarios:

In the first scenario your desk is a mess. There are papers everywhere. You have sloppy notes scribbled on everything. There is a stinky banana peel to your left. There is a half drank can of cola to your right. The trash bucket is overflowing at your feet. You are so distracted by the mess that you can’t even think straight.

In the second scenario your desk is immaculate. You have only the items that you need in front of you. Everything is organized. The air in the room is fresh. You have a clean slate. Your creative juices begin to flow.

In which of these two scenarios are you going to be more productive? In which case do you have a better chance of completing your task and reaching your goal? Of course it is the second scenario. In the same way that minimalism improves your ability to work at your desk, it can improve the overall quality of your life.

Home is where the heart is but it’s also where the junk is. The first step to creating harmony in your living space is to get rid of the stuff that you don’t need. Start slow. Work through one room at a time. Take inventory of your possessions. What items are just taking up space? Is there a sofa that has been covered in boxes for the last six months? Is there a broken television that hasn’t been switched on since the late 90’s? If you have things that you do not use on a regular basis (at least once every few months) get rid of them or put them in storage. It is not healthy to be surrounded by things that you do not need or use. Those items can literally drain you of energy and positivity simply by their unnecessary presence.

If you have things that you are guilty about getting rid of, give them to friends, donate them to a charity, or have a yard sale. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — but first you’ve got to get rid of that trash and let it become another man’s treasure.

Your home should be your sanctuary. You should be surrounded by things that make you feel calm, tranquil, productive, and happy. Once you have conquered your home, move on to your car, your yard, your office at work. Keep going. Practice minimalism everywhere that you exist and the joy of your existence will multiply.

People & Places
Are there vampires in your life? You know what I’m talking about — the people and the places that suck the life out of you everyday. How can you stop it? How can you kill the vampires? Just cut the fat.

Okay, I know that it is not always easy to end relationships. Sometimes there are people in our lives — friends, lovers, even family members — that have been slowly killing us with their toxicity for years. It is not easy to let go of them. It is not easy to cut them out of your life. But, if you want to change your life, if you want to experience joy on a level that you did not think possible, you have to do it, even if it just means limiting contact.

“If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift they walk away from you. If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure years of suffering with him or her. Walking away may hurt for awhile, but your heart will eventually heal.” —Don Miguel Ruiz

In the same way that people will drag you down, places will too. If every time you stop at the corner bar you end up with a hangover from hell the next day, stop going. If every time you eat lunch at the diner up the street you get bloated for five days, stop going. If every time you spend the afternoon at the shopping mall you max out your credit card, stop going.

This is a simple concept but for some reason (usually guilt or fear) we fail to grasp it. If you do not spend time with that toxic person, that toxic person can not hurt you. If you do not visit that toxic place, that toxic place can not hurt you.

Possessions & Consumerism
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you turn on the TV you’ve got a whole bunch of reasons why your life sucks. But what if you didn’t? What if you actually didn’t turn on the TV? What if you didn’t have to see the stick thin models, the women being overtly sexualized, the luxury car commercials that make you believe that you need to spend $50,000 to get from Point A to Point B? What if you picked up a book that taught you that you are beautiful exactly as you are? What if you read an article that taught you that this society will chew you up and spit you out if you let it? What if you really stopped buying into all of the marketing B.S.? What if you understood that there is nothing outside of you (no car, no fitness equipment, no jewelry, nothing) that will make you happy? What if you finally realized that you can not seek happiness, you must live it?

Two years ago, I was swimming in credit card debt. One time I paid over $300 for a pair of Gucci sunglasses that were scratched and bent within a matter of weeks. When I think back on that lifestyle, my stomach turns. In December of 2008 I moved into a small house bordered by a state forest. Slowly, I started getting rid of my material poss
essions. I subscribed to Netflix. I downgraded to basic cable and stopped watching TV except for Discovery and the news every now and then. No longer do I turn on the television and lust after the hottest trends. I wear the clothes that I have in my closet. I recognize that my beauty exists within me and within the good that I put out into this world. I have never been happier and I have never been more free. I want you to experience this joy. I hope that this post starts you on this journey. Let me know how I can help you get there!

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” —Anthony Robbins

Cutting the fat, and the toxicity, from your life will be a slow process. Have patience, remain strong, and stay focused. Remember that the universe is conspiring with you and so am I.

Comments (5)

  • Meandering Bohemian

    September 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    Great… great great post. Absolutely agree and love your concepts… Your spot on… Keep up the good work…

  • Laura

    September 11, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Very good tips. Too bad it took me a little longer than you to figure this all out! (I'm 44)


  • Josh

    September 16, 2009 at 2:57 am

    Outstanding !! Keep it coming

  • Dena

    September 18, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    @Meandering Bohemian – Thank you so much for your kind words! It means so much to me that you enjoyed the post.

    @Laura – You know what, it doesn't matter when you did it. It only matters that you did it. I am so proud of you.

    @Josh – Thank you for your compliments. I intend to! 🙂

  • Dena Botbyl

    June 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Cut the Fat, Transform Your Life

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