Some years ago I read a quote from Regina Brett: “Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful”. The words formed part of a list of life lessons that Regina wrote before her birthday.
Those particular words struck a deep chord with me and I used them whenever I was assessing whether to keep or discard items around the house. If something wasn’t used (and wasn’t likely to be) or it wasn’t bringing beauty or joy into my living space then it was time to say goodbye.
More recently I found myself remembering Regina’s advice, but this time in a different context. I had been feeling slightly overwhelmed with the online world. I’ve always loved social media but I had begun to feel like it was generating too much noise. I felt as though I had to sift through an ocean of opinions each time I logged on. I was drowning in a sea of information but I didn’t feel as though I was learning anything.
Does that ever happen to you, too? Do you sometimes feel that you’re swimming against a tidal wave of All The People shouting about All The Things?
I realized that it was time for me to re-evaluate what I was allowing myself to absorb.
Firstly, I stopped scrolling. I had already limited my scrolling time prior, but this time I went a step further and deleted a couple of social media apps from my devices. I couldn’t scroll on an app that I didn’t have.
It felt weird to be off of Facebook. But, at the same time it felt good. I suddenly had room to breathe. Room to be.
I also found it useful.
How so? Well, first and foremost I got much clearer about my own voice and my own message. We often absorb (and echo) so much of what is around us. It’s hard to get clarity if we can’t catch some of our own silence and sit with it for a while.
I also felt a renewed sense of hope. I found that it was possible to stay connected to the core issues that so many of us are dealing with globally without reading countless opinion pieces in order to do so.
In addition, I began to notice my No rising up a little. (No, I don’t have to read every single article I’m tagged in. No, I cannot reply to ten messages and still do the work I need to do. No, I will not post something that feels inauthentic even if I know I will be “liked” more because of it).
It was amazing (and often simultaneously uncomfortable) to truly, deeply and totally trust my own voice. I felt like I was contributing to the world in a much more meaningful way. I felt useful.
In a time of global uncertainty, I became certain about one thing: my mission. I am here to create. To share my creativity. To stand tall, to not cower, to not apologize for taking up space in this world. And I am here to help you do the same.
I took all of the time that I wasn’t spending on scrolling, and instead I poured my energy into creating new course content. Content that would help others. Content that was full of heartfelt intent. Content with heartfelt intent that would go on to have an impact.
To help sustain me, I looked for what was good. I sought out beauty and joy and I invited them to be with me. I created simple rituals and I gave gratitude for the many gifts that are to be found in the ordinary everyday spaces.
I chose news sources and mentors mindfully. I kept informed of what was happening in the world. I was more deliberate about the change that I could influence in the world. I got clear about what I personally needed to have in order for me to thrive in the world.
And I let the rest go.
I did. I just let it go. And there wasn’t any drama, or fanfare, or huge I AM DOING THIS announcement. I just let go.
Understanding and honoring my own needs means that I am better able to understand and honor the needs of others. And then we all win, right? Because if I’m moving through the world with more ease and I see that you are stuck, then I am better equipped to help you. I am better placed to want to help you.
That is useful.
I cannot help you in a screaming match on social media. Not truly. Because egos are big and trolls are many. But I can help you by working with you to notice what is beautiful and joyful in your life.
Context is important.
Is it useful to witness and respect the experiences of others, even when (especially when) they are not similar to our own? Yes. Absolutely. This helps inform us and it’s a crucial part of local and global community building.
Is it useful for us to sift through (what feels like) twenty five hundred status updates that are not even a little bit educational or digestible? And then repeat this hourly? No. ‘Tis not.
Each of us gets to determine what is useful, beautiful or joyful for us as individuals. My husband has a mosaic type cow type figurine thing that he picked up on one of his travels. When we first moved in together I insisted it was put in the closet. He insisted it wasn’t. It lives on top of our fridge now and, granted, I have developed some kind of weird affection for it. It is something that is joyful for him. And he decides his joy. As do I, mine. As do you, yours. (I admit that I push back when he collects too many “useful” things though. After all, how many elastic bands does one household require…)
Anyway, in summary: Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Step away from excess, strip back everything that is not essential so you can see who and what you truly desire to have in your life, online and offline. You might be surprised at how differently you feel by making more mindful choices.