Living a more engaged, thoughtful life

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throwing-clothes-out-windowI had a block of interviews yesterday and during my final interview, the interviewer asked me what I like to do in my spare time. I started talking about how I’m really basic– that what appeals to me are meals shared with good friends, walking and talking and just generally enjoying the people I am spending time with. I told her about my garage sale last weekend and how since being laid off, I have been trying to get rid of crap from my life (which apparently is very normal after a life disruption– the desire to “start fresh.”)

The more I talked, the more I realized that what I was sharing was less about how I like to spend my time and more about a decision I made at the start of this year. I was noticing that I was spending a lot of my time with the tv on, watching whatever happened to be on at the moment. I felt like I was just watching my life pass me by. So when I had to move earlier this year, I decided to become a “cord-cutter” and not renew my cable tv subscription (made easier by the fact that I discontinued my Comcast service when they told me they were charging me a “move fee”). I was going to live off Netflix, maybe some free movies from the library and read books and exercise and just generally be a little bit less dependent on the white noise of tv in my life.

One of my coworkers made a goal of reading 100 books this year which was a little high for my reading ability. But I liked the idea of having a reading goal so I set a goal for myself of reading 20 books this year (which I’m happy to say I’m probably going to meet since I’m reading book #17 right now). I have been reading a lot of books checked out from the library (seriously– the San Jose library system is DA BOMB). I am also trying to purge my personal of library of books I don’t love. When I was unemployed in the past, I read and probably got rid of about 20 books (which felt great!) so I will probably start doing that with the remaining books in my library.

As it relates to clothes, I am incredibly guilty of having a ridiculously large wardrobe. This has been the case for some time (I just like stuff) but I have been trying to live by the dictum of “do I love it?” So when I am out and about at the store, before I buy anything, I ask myself “do I love this enough to buy it?” A lot of the time, the answer is no and I can comfortably walk away. At the time of my garage sale, I was able to purge a good amount of stuff from my wardrobe. I am also trying to sell some of my nicer items on eBay. My general goal is to cultivate a distinct style– essentially assigning myself some confines for what I own and buy so that the total of what I have is small and reasonable and consists of things I actually wear.

Finally, as it relates to people, I have put some boundaries in place as well.  One of my rules concerning this blog is that I won’t say things about people that I should say to people. So this facet of my life adjustment is a little bit more sensitive to navigate. But essentially, I think I have realized (and I think this has more to do with getting older rather than a distinct decision related to the quality of my life but it all falls under the same bucket perhaps) that life is short and you should only spend it doing things and being around people that make you happy. In fact, I remember when I was younger, in my mid-20s probably, trying to navigate a friendship with a college friend. It was becoming increasingly volatile and there were times when I wondered what I was gaining from the friendship. A friend that I met while doing a year abroad (and who I am happy to report I am still friends with some 14 years later!) said the quintessential thing to keep in mind when managing any relationship: friends should make you happy. I mean, that’s everything about friendship in a nutshell. While there can be challenges in a friendship or really any relationship in your life, at the end of it, it should net positive. The good should outweigh the bad and it should be clear how that person contributes to your life. I don’t want to say that I thought about this and then got rid of problematic friendships. But I do think it’s fair to say that I took a deep and long look at some of my relationships and made the decision to step away from the ones that weren’t contributing positive things to my life.

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