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Secrets of Simplicity

Secrets of Simplicity

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Secrets of Simplicity

3/5 (11 evaluări)
157 pages
1 hour
Jul 1, 2010


Bulging in-boxes, out-of-control stress, and even climate change serve as reminders that when it comes to being happy and healthy, less is more. In this interactive journal, organization expert Mary Carlomagno leads readers on a journey toward release and discovery. Guided by the principle that the way you spend your time and money should reflect your true priorities, Secrets of Simplicity shows how to make practical changes to unburden your closets and calendars and make room for what's really important. Readers can record their successes, as they de-clutter their homes and in the process, their minds.
Jul 1, 2010

Despre autor

Mary Carlomagno is the founder of Order, a company that specializes in clutter control, urban apartment solutions, office spaces, and life transitions. Before founding Order, she worked in book publishing and retail. She and her husband live in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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Secrets of Simplicity - Mary Carlomagno


01: Release


Taoist philosophy states that when you let something go from your life, something better will come in. It took me a while to learn that this philosophy does not necessarily apply to one’s shoe collection. A (now-recovering) shopaholic, I began to find that my purchasing habits were becoming unmanageable. And I wasn’t alone. According to The American Journal of Psychiatry, compulsive shopping affects one in twenty Americans. Feeling profoundly dissatisfied with my life, I started to seek the meaning in my madness. Shopping was taking up not only my money and my time but also my energy, I realized. Letting it go would be the first of many steps in my journey toward a simpler life. So I said good-bye to the personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue and hello to Lao-tzu, my new stylist—spiritual stylist, that is.

According to legend, Lao-tzu (circa 500 B.C.E.), the keeper of the archives of the imperial court of China, became disillusioned by the lack of men willing to follow the way of goodness. Seeking solitude, he departed and embarked on a spiritual quest into the wilderness that took him to the western border of China. There, a border guard is reported to have asked him to record his teachings, which became known as the Tao-te Ching, one of the most influential and widely translated spiritual books in the world.

Like Lao-tzu, I knew that I was preparing for a new path. And, for that journey, I would need to slip into a different pair of shoes indeed. Although the starting place was my shoe collection, I began to see, beyond my closet, for other opportunities to simplify and create balance. My daily planner showed triple bookings on the same evening. My pantry was empty because I rarely cooked at home. Conversations with friends were crammed in between meetings. Seeing my life for what it was, I began to release my daily habits of excess one by one, readying myself for better, creating space for change to take root. The immediate result was a less hectic, more balanced life, with more peace.

Lao-tzu advocated following a step-by-step process to find universal peace. You can do the same in your own life. In readying yourself for the journey ahead, you will learn to decide to retreat from the pressures of everyday life. Next, you’ll learn that no is a powerful tool. Last, you will learn that this is your time in the wilderness. He who knows he has had enough is rich, Lao-tzu said.

lessons from lent

Thousands of years after the appearance of the Biblical phrase Give me neither poverty nor wealth, millions of followers still practice Lent each year. The early Christians were clued in to major life-balance issues long before any of the modern movements picked up on them. When I was a child practicing Lent, I didn’t really understand what going without Cheez Doodles or Ring Dings had to do with religion, but I went along with the plan—and in the process I learned discipline as well as faith. And discipline is what it takes to change and make way for the new.

Take a page from Lent and decide what you can release in your life, whether it’s for a day, a week, or a month. Consider the major sources of anxiety, stress, or distraction in your life: unnecessary belongings you’ve accumulated; technological gadgets like cell phones or televisions; unhealthy edible treats such as chocolate; and activities you once enjoyed but now seem obligatory or stressful—a gossipy book group, for example. Challenge yourself to go without a luxury and record your observations of that experience. Note that it often takes four to six weeks to change a habit or have a new habit take root.

what can you let go?

We all have our own rituals, routines, and habits that we take for granted, some of which might be draining our resources and distracting us from the truly important things in life. Would eliminating them free up space, time, energy, or money? What other things or rituals might you consider releasing? The afternoon latte, the extra handful of potato chips, the nightly taxicab ride home from the office, the never-ending search for the perfect pair of black pants, the twice-yearly upgrade to your cell phone, yet another magazine subscription, after-work cocktails with coworkers when all you want to do is go home and watch a movie, or ordering a pizza instead of cooking what is in your freezer. Choose something to release—one of the items mentioned above, or something else that’s specific to you. Commit to releasing it for one month.

Write the date and the name of the thing you decide to release here:


Record your feelings. As you begin today, make note of the following:

Emotional and physical well-being: ___________________________________________________________________

The weather and your surroundings: _________________________________________________________

How much time do you spend on your item per week? ____________________________________________________________________

What will replace what you have given up? _______________________________________________________________________

Can you live without it? ________________________________________________________________________

Note the challenges you face when consciously saying no to this item:





At the end of the month, think about how you felt while doing this experiment. Perhaps it was easy for you to release it, or perhaps you struggled because you had come to rely on this everyday habit. If you found this easy, challenge yourself with another release, or try this one again but for a longer amount of time. If you struggled, simply acknowledge that you are more reliant on that item or habit than you may have expected. Check in with this exercise over time and record the changes.

Be aware of the tempting and irresistible allure of the perfect excuse. We all make them, whether consciously or unconsciously. Recognizing our excuses will help us to release even more and gain better understanding of why we do the things we do. If you struggled with the first exercise, you may want to revisit it after completing the next one, which will allow you to explore the excuses that may be keeping you from taking action.

what’s your excuse?

We all have excuses and justifications for why we hold on to things and habits. While teaching a group of students in Manhattan, I learned that excuses are as creative as they are plentiful. Identifying our excuses can be a good start when we are deconstructing what makes us hold on to our habits. At the start of each class, I asked each student to write down an excuse, post it on a bulletin board, and release it to the universe. By the time the class ended, each student was asked to defend his or her excuse to see if it was still valid. Typically, more than half of the students would amend their earlier idea of what the actual excuse is, learning that most, if not all excuses revolve around four major areas: time, motivation, emotion, and energy. The excuse The day just gets away from me points to an unwillingness to make organizing a priority. I find too many things to do that seem more important indicates that the person is not willing to make a commitment. I am worried that if I get organized I won’t be able to find anything shows that the student is assigning emotions to inanimate objects. I start, but I fear that I won’t finish indicates that the student has not made organizing an everyday activity. Get control of one of these areas and you hold the keys to your escape plan. In simple terms, clutter and unhelpful habits can be eliminated

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  • (2/5)
    I got some good bits of information from this book, although I have to admit that even having read the entire book, I'm not completely sure of what the goal of the writer was. It seemed to be a little all over the place from stopping your shop-aholic tendancies to cleaning out your junk drawer and settting down for some mediation then deciding what your life dream is to reconciling your finances. I think the author could have done well to narrow her focus and not try to tackle so many subjects with one small book.