Clear Space for Happiness

2020 has been a year that no one could have imagined. I, like so many others, had big plans. “This is going to be my year!” I proclaimed with memes on Instagram and Twitter. “New year, new me,” I journaled in my fresh 2020 planner. I was in the midst of planning my 35th birthday trip to Ghana. I updated my Hinge profile and ordered 31 Prayers for Your Future Husband by Jennifer Smith ‘cause I was going to date this year!

Then came March 2020 and the world shifted into a global crisis that hasn’t been seen in a century. A crisis of epic proportions that showed that the way we have been living isn’t sustainable. Sure, some people have been living a charmed life, but most of the country showcased how overworked and underpaid we are.

Yes, we survived, but the system was not designed for us to thrive. Lucky ones figured out how to live their best life pre COVID-19 but others lived a life dependent on a system that’s hellbent on keeping us a notch above despair: mentally, monetarily, and emotionally. We deal with microaggressions in an office that takes over an hour to drive to and we live paycheck to paycheck. We drudge through the week and then let loose on the weekend which always goes by too fast. We barely have time to think, rest, and reset.

There hasn’t been a moment of rest because in addition to dealing with a deadly disease we have also witnessed police brutality that is reminiscent of the Jim Crow era. In 2020, we witnessed a white police officer keep his knee on the neck of a Black man named George Floyd for nine minutes, killing him. We also saw a police officer fatally shoot Rayshard Brooks in the back seven times. The cops who fatally shot Breonna Taylor are still free and unaccountable.

On top of everything, we’re also in the midst of one of the most important elections in American history. Never has a country been more divided on simple issues such as wearing a mask to protect yourself and others. This is too much. I am exhausted from just writing what we all have been experiencing.

But what is next? And how do we mentally prepare for uncertainty? I believe that this is the year of audacious self-care.

If the government has the audacity to stop stimulus check talks that will help millions of Americans, then this is the time to intentionally do you. It’s the time to be bold in the life you seek because this year has taught us that happiness is our birthright and it’s ours alone.

This is the season of releasing the negative clutter that has painfully weighed us down so we can usher in the new. Change is inevitable; it’s the only constant and when we remove the clutter and reorganize the chaos, we have more time to focus on what we truly want, to take action, and to have fun. Critically, we’ll also find more time for self-care, our passions, our family and friends, and what drives us.

Here’s how you clear your space for bliss and for change: Get rid of what gets in your way.

Sort through the physical objects

For physical objects, gather garbage bags to sort your items. You want four bags: keep, give, trash, and a WTF bag labeled with a deadline. In the WTF bag toss the stuff that you’re not sure about or need to mull over for a couple of days, but get rid of it by your deadline.

You want to get rid of the things that “next-level” you wouldn’t own.

A few ideas on what to purge:

  • things you don’t like
  • things you don’t need and won’t miss
  • items that don’t elicit positive emotions
  • broken items that you don’t care to fix
  • things you only keep out of obligation
  • things that don’t belong to you

Clean up your digital life

For your digital spaces, get to deleting and filtering. You want to take a real good look at your inbox and start unsubscribing, deleting, and setting up filters so you only see things that are important to you, or things you need like emails for bills, health records, and financial documents.

You want to release the things that are no longer aligned with you or serving you.

Mind your calendar

If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that time is of the essence. This is the time to really look at how you are spending your time. Create a time chart by grabbing a sheet of paper or opening your favorite spreadsheet software. Create seven columns. Starting in the first column, begin writing the first letter for each day of the week. Next, draw 24 rows beginning with the hour you wake up. Now begin blocking off your time.

Block off your sleep times first. If you have a full-time job or specific times you do business, you can block that off too, and whatever else is mandatory. Next, start blocking off times you will dedicate to growth. Then ask yourself: Are you spending too much time doing things that don’t align with your bliss or goals? Can you eliminate or cut back on wasting time on social media and binge-watching?

This is the time to take control of your time.

Clutter is not always physical

It took a pandemic for many to realize how influential other people’s actions are in our lives. Now is the time to make a habit of spending time with the people that make you feel positive emotions and cut back on the people that don’t make you feel good. COVID-19 has moved our relationships to the forefront and sometimes it is best to love people from afar. Do not give more time or energy to the people who elicit negative emotions.

Stop wasting time and energy on unreliable people, gossipers, bad clients, or people who stress you out and drain your energy. Step back from relationships with people who are self-centered, unmotivated, or manipulative. Make no space for bullies, liars, or intentionally ignorant people.

Clutter is not always physical, it can be mental and emotional. In order to make space for the new, we must rid ourselves of negative thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, habits, feelings, and emotions just as easily as we toss out clothes we don’t like anymore.

Although 2020 hasn’t been ideal, we must look forward and embrace change. Just as masks are part of a new normal, positivity can be, too. If a thought, feeling, or belief is blocking your path on the way to your bliss, you must let it go and welcome in new thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that support the goals you want to achieve.

Carla Thomas

Stylist, writer, and creator of The Fly Girl Guide from Baltimore, Maryland.

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