UNITED STATES—Look around you and develop new eyes, eyes sensitive to inertia. Inertia here meaning the second definition offered by Webster’s New World Dictionary, “a tendency to remain in a fixed condition without change; disinclination to move or act.” Habitually focus on rooting out inertia in ourselves and things around us, and it will renovate and change our lives. It is truly a way to lighten up inside and out.
Cleanse yourself of personal inertia, “putting off,” and leaving action for later. In the time it takes to think about doing a task, reject it, and put it off for later, you could already be doing it. There, done! Learn to interpret that kneejerk dismissal of a job to be done or chronic issue to be handled, and take it as your cue to go into action. There’s no better time do something than now. In fact, it’s the only time. Also you will rid your future calendar of the stress generator of having to deal in the future what you put off in the past.
To illustrate, here’s something anybody can do. Look inside your pocket or you wallet. Take out all the contents and dump it on the table. Quickly scan the items and you will immediately detect things that you have received that now serve no purpose whatsoever and stick around only because of the inertia of not taking a moment to go through your pockets. Whatever made this mess—be it in your wallet or your house—it got here one piece at a time. This is heartening. If it got here one piece at a time, it will go away the same way: one piece at a time.
One of the most important things you can do is pledge a constant awareness of what could be a mess before it ever happens. Be aware just as things come into your life—freebies, gift clothes, packaging, catalogs—and instead of setting it aside to determine what to do with it, ask yourself if it is useful. If not, dispose of it, immediately. This may sound harsh, but I believe most of what’s coming in can be handled straight by a trip to the garbage can. Apply your awareness constantly to these new items that are foisted on you by friends, family, vendors, and your own greedy self. Yes, I do it to myself all the time: can’t get away from a yard sale without a book or something.
Once there’s the gatekeeper in place for new things coming in, you are better able to deal with the messes that already exist. I look for things that I can dispense with right now. A great question to ask is where is the inertia in this room? Well, one glaring sign of inertia is when something it out of place. A spoon is on the floor, a bedpan on the sofa. Pick it up and put it in its place. See it and do it now, before any more inertia accrues. With other people around the tendency to inertia compounds. That’s life. Out of respect one gives slack to loved ones thinking they left something out for a reason. But, to put your life on a low-inertia diet, I suggest that this is poppycock. Allowing stuff to lie around in the wrong place merely lends more weight to environmental inertia. The sooner you move on these items or get someone else to move on them, the sooner you lighten up your life.
As in the real world, the digital world, apply these principles for dealing with inertia: be ruthless in what you keep and look vigorously at new stuff that’s coming in. Think how much stuff (in the real and digital world) you didn’t have before June 2010, for example, and look, the world’s not going to end if you delete it. There’s always the option of designating a place to store what I can’t go though now. Of course I like the clean sweep, the sweet delete button, the almighty garbage can. We need to be fearless in clearing out, for the true joy and energy of living lies within us, life’s travelers, not in our junk-filled suitcases.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” available on Amazon.com.