I'm sure you've heard this all before, but before we can take steps to creating a simple and serene life, we need to examine the one we already have.
What's working and what's not?
Using my favourite quote Identify what's important to you - eliminate everything else; let's take a few minutes to really think about what's most important to us.
My top ten priorities in order of importance are:
1. My health (can't live without it!)
2. My family (gives me purpose)
3. My friends (keep me sane)
4. My pets (make me smile)
5. My photographs and memorabilia (chronicle my life)
6 My job (pays the bills)
7. My house (my haven)
8. My creative pursuits (my outlet)
9. My car (convenience)
10.My computer (learning and sharing)
That's a pretty standard list, and maybe a lot like yours. I took about five minutes to come up with it, and it's by no means perfect; but I can already see that the things that are highest on the list are not material things, and the further down I go the less important these things really are.
For example, without my computer I can still live happily and pursue other creative activities. Without my car I can still get around.
My job is a big one, but I haven't even ranked it in my top five. The reason for this is that I will always find a way to pay bills, but I couldn't bring myself to give it a higher priority than irreplaceable things like my photographs or any of the items above that.
The importance of priorities was brought home to me recently when my town was evacuated in the face of a threatening bushfire. It motivated me to create an emergency evacuation kit, containing everything that was important to me. It shocked me to realise that everything I wanted to take with me fitted on one shelf in a small cupboard.
So I guess the point I'm trying to make is this...We all have stuff (and people and commitments) in our lives that we don't need or that don't contribute to our happiness, and in fact can make us downright unhappy.
By listing what's important - whether we list ten things or a hundred; we'll start to see more clearly where our heart truly lies, and be able to begin letting go of some of the not-so-important things.