You’ve eliminated the junk mail, cleaned out the closet. Banished the dust mites, shaved your pet hairless. But what about the emotional and intellectual lint in your soul? Here’s a guide to streamlining your inner life.
FIRST, collect all those scraps of paper and business cards you’ve collected over the years. Transfer all of the contacts to one book (Banana Republic leatherbound address book, $58) or PalmPilot (J&R Computer World, $295). While compiling your book, select the one friend who represents the happiest person you know. This should be the person who is the best listener, the least trouble, and the most sympathetic to everything you say. Write down the name and contact info for this person on fine card stock (Kate’s Paperie, $12). This is the friend you are going to keep. Tuck away the other names, neatly bound in your new address file, in a hard-to-reach drawer (Gothic Cabinet Craft, $375).
PHOTOS can be restorative trips down memory lane, but usually they are stabbing reminders of a soul-wrenching past. Collect all of your snapshots and take a good, hard look (Modo tortoiseshell reading glasses, $250): Which is the best picture of you? Which is your coolest-looking friend? Which represents the most physically appealing person you have ever dated? Cherish these three pictures (cut yourself out of the latter two, obviously, if your likeness is less flattering than in the solo shot) in a simple, stylish frame such as Calvin Klein’s silver-plated brass frames (available at Bloomingdale’s, $21.99). Throw the other pictures away or save in a box (Coach Legacy photo box, small, $135) for Reflecting (see below).
NATURE always puts life’s smaller worries into perspective, but sometimes requires an excessive amount of effort. Eradicate the anguish of watching your plants die slowly from neglect or bad karma by replacing them all with a handful of twigs—any sprigs gathered from a local plant will do, or you can purchase twigs at your local art supply store. Arrange one or two artfully in an aesthetically soothing vase (Waterford Millennium Vase, $495) as a reminder of Mother Earth’s beauty. Or replace your synthetic rug with a natural fiber, such as a Tahiti Seagrass Rug (Kensington Collection, $129).
KIDS are often more trouble than they’re worth. If you must have them, try to keep them confined to an area you don’t fuss over too much. Simple plastic covers (Coleman medium-weight tarpaulin, $29.95) should keep clean-up easy. Don’t forget to cut air holes!
PERIODICALLY take a moment to reflect on the past: It helps to light an aromatic candle (Illuminations Energy & Love Aromatherapy Gift Basket*, $69.95), breathe deeply while staring into the flame, and watch it burn brighter as it catches a ticket stub, photograph, lock of hair, birth certificate or some other memento.
CHANTING is another excellent way to reinforce calm, and you’ll find that many messages posted around you are mantras waiting to be discovered. “For paying customers only,” “One flush is not enough,” “Track fires cause delays”—countless phrases reveal a new, spiritual significance when examined through repetition. Works especially well with Reflecting.
AVOID Danas and Billys. Also avoid people who do not speak English very well, and salespeople at Benetton or J. Crew. Pinpointing the sources of stressful interactions is the first step toward cleansing them from your life.
REMEMBER: It is always, always about you.
Shopping info, page 453.
*Gift packaging not available.
SUGGESTED READSThe Pretentious 17 Year Old’s Guide To Dating
by Jeff Barnosky (1/19/2006)
So You’ve Knocked Over A Row Of A Motorcycle Gang’s Motorcycles
by Sarah Walker (3/15/2006)
Instructions for Reaching the Bridge to the 21st Century
by Paul Maliszewski (2/2/2000)
RECENTLYA Millennial Applies for a Ghostwriting Position at a Wealthy White Lady’s Lifestyle Blog
by Max Bisantz (9/12/2014)
Best Joke Ever: Louis C.K. Exposes My Stupid Brain
by Mark Peters (9/12/2014)
Monologue: Botticelli’s Venus Wants You to Go Away
by Kate Hahn (9/12/2014)
POPULARHello Stranger On the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How to Take Care of My Baby?
by Wendy Molyneux (8/16/2012)
Classic Movies Changed to Not Be Sexist
by Blythe Roberson (8/14/2014)
A Post Gender Normative Man Tries to Pick Up a Woman at a Bar
by Jesse Eisenberg (12/28/2011)