Thursday, August 16, 2012

Throw Out Fifty Things

book cover - throw out 50 things

When Gail Blanke tells you to throw out 50 things, she doesn't mean 50 of those old magazines. Those just count as one thing.

But she also includes things you might not think of.
Once you start throwing out a lot of physical clutter — once you get on a roll, and you will — a new urge kicks in: "What about all the clutter in my mind?" you ask. "What in the world have I allowed to collect there?" And then you get into the really good stuff.
Blanke guides you through both the physical and the mental clutter, saying, "In addition to the socks and lipsticks, you're going to throw out the old regrets and resentments" — and so much more.

She leads you through all the rooms of your home, with the standard "Do I really love it?" and "Do I need it now?" kind of questions. She also reminds us of this:
We really are what we think about. And what we surround ourselves with influences a lot of our thinking — even if it's stashed away up in the attic.
While the room-by-room chapters are good, the chapters dealing with the mental clutter are my favorite parts of this book. For example, there's the lovely chapter about Letting Go of the Type of Person You Think You Are — or Aren't. Not a morning person? You can decide that you are — and make that happen. (And as someone who generally thinks of herself as "not a morning person," Blanke's suggestions here made sense to me.) Whether you're "not the type to get up in front of people and talk" or "not the creative type" or whatever, you can choose to let go of that typing if it doesn't serve you.

And then there's the chapter on Letting Go of the Regrets and Mistakes of the Past, where Blanke writes:
We've all messed up. We all have those middle-of-the-night moments (hours?) when we castigate ourselves for not knowing better, for not seeing it coming, for not trying harder, for not standing up for ourselves — or not keeping quiet for once, if that's what the retrospect suggests. For not being perfect.

But perfectionism, like martyrdom, is highly overrated.
I don't agree with everything in this book; for example, I don't think the answer about whether to keep something you're unsure about is aways to get rid of it. But this was an enjoyable read, filled with anecdotes from the author's own life and those of her clients — and filled with much wisdom.

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