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Are your possessions holding you back? It may be time to downgrade

Publisher, editor-in-chief and author at Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Now that the holidays are behind us, I'm focusing on the day-to-day again, trying to get organized, and of course, lose those five pounds. Perhaps you're doing the same thing. Or perhaps you're looking for a major change in your life this year instead of making the same old resolutions.

My best friend from childhood, Priscilla Dann-Courtney, did just that when she went on a 10-day silent yoga retreat for her 50th birthday. She wrote a wonderful story about the retreat called "The Resolution of Silence" in our book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution.

Priscilla was skeptical about the retreat at first, saying "I felt like a child at a camp I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy." But she started to pay attention the first night when "the evening ended with a discussion about how our daily conversations can often be distractions from honest conversations with ourselves. Quiet allows our inner voice to be heard."

Priscilla realized that her back and shoulder pain was a result of the burden she was carrying, seeing too many patients in her psychotherapy practice in order to maintain her family's lifestyle. She and her husband "worked long hours, took care of three children, a bounding puppy and a spacious home. We prospered from having space in our home, yet felt deprived by no space in our lives."

The guests at the retreat were allowed to break their silence to call their families. So Priscilla called home to tell her husband, who is also a psychologist, she was starting to think they should have a simpler life, a smaller home, and smaller caseloads in their practices. She wrote, "I returned home committed to driving my destiny versus driving myself. We decided to sell our home and move a block away to a lovely yet simpler home. At first the children screamed and slammed doors but they have since forgiven us."

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell summed it up best: "It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly." By shedding the financial obligations of a big house, Priscilla and her husband found a better way to live. They cut their work hours and lived more simply. They turned their house back into a home, a place to relax, instead of an obligation. Priscilla said it all worked out great for them: "My husband and I work less and I spend more time writing. My husband finds peace as he tends his blossoming garden. I make time between patients to go to a daily yoga class."

Your home should be your haven, not your boss, right?

Britteny Elrick shares "My Picture-Perfect New Year's Resolution" from Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution.

Image: Universal Pops/Flickr
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