I mentioned in my last post that while away on vacation, I read a really good book. Well, the more I think about this book and put the concepts into action, the more I love this book.
The book is called Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life and it was written by life coach Gail Blanke. Gail, among other things, wrote one of my all-time favorite articles in Real Simple magazine.
As you know, I love magazines and read lots of them. So to have an all-time favorite article says a lot. There is one story that has always stuck with me. One that I’ve often thought about and wanted to put my hands on so I could read it again. Come to find out, Gail Blanke is the one who wrote this article.
It occurred to me that Gail wrote this article partway through the book—making me even more excited about the book. And then, my excitement soared when I realized she included this story in the book. Now I have this story, at my fingertips, any time I want! I can simply flip to page 159 of “Throw Out Fifty Things” and read about “Letting Go of the Need to Have Everyone Like You.”
So what’s the story? Well, on page 159 Gail shares the story of when she was nine years old and came home from a birthday party in tears. Turns out Suzy didn’t like Gail. So, Gail’s mother asked her if she could think of anything in the world that everybody likes. Her mother went on to tell her that there is just one thing that everyone likes and that is water.
“Do you want to be like water?” Gail’s mother asked. Gail decided, at nine years old, that she’d rather be like hot chocolate or Coca-Cola or lemonade. Sounds rather delicious, doesn’t it? The moral of this story is that so many of us, in an attempt to be liked by everyone, water ourselves down. As Gail says in the book, “We dilute our flavor so we won’t offend anyone. And in the process, we give away our power, the essence of who we are; the very thing that makes us unique and unforgettable.”
I love that. And this little nugget only scratches the surface of the gems that fill the pages of this wonderful, little book.
The overall premise of this book is to throw out fifty things. In the process of letting go of your clutter, you find your life. A concept I resonate with wholeheartedly. Fifty things sounds easy, at first, but here’s the catch—whether you toss one magazine or one-hundred, it counts as just one thing. This makes things a bit harder, and yet, for me, even more compelling. In fact, the day after returning home from our vacation, I started on my own “throw out fifty things” mission. It’s my own personal competition with myself, how quickly can I get to fifty? Will I actually toss out the desire to be liked by everyone? Can I make my list go as high as 75? 100? 500? (I doubt I’ll get to 500…but who knows. Tossing stuff out is pretty addictive.)
As you can see, Gail isn’t just talking about throwing out physical things—you throw out mind clutter, too. Things like perfectionism, regrets and the need to feel secure are all candidates for tossing out the window. And for the record, Gail doesn’t literally suggest that you throw your stuff into the trash. She shares loads of resources for passing along your items to others who will use and enjoy them. She even has a section about holding a sale to make money on your cast-offs, which you know isn’t my go-to solution. But the ideas shared in this book have me rethinking the notion of a sale. Gail shares tips from her friend Sally Carr that turns a sale into a social gathering and an anticipated event—now that’s my kind of sale! (Though I have to admit…the things I’ve thrown out so far have headed straight to Goodwill. Old habits die hard, but I love the notion that a sale sounds like fun.)
All in all, this book is about decluttering—let go of the things in your life that no longer serve you. I found it to be very motivating and very consistent with my own beliefs about clutter and letting go. It isn’t often that I put down a book and start throwing stuff out, but this time I did.
So if you’re looking for a book loaded with great stories and oodles of inspiration to move your decluttering forward, give Throw Out Fifty Things a try. I’d be willing to bet, this book won’t be on your list of fifty things heading out the door.