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What if you could make life feel easier every day? Yesterday I talked about traveling light and the freedom of carrying less. Couldn’t this apply to life as well? We wrestle with many types of baggage every day. For example, how big is your purse/wallet? How many unfinished projects cost a heavy mental price in worry or annoyance? What about high maintenance relationships? Guilt over the past? Wouldn’t it be great to throw off these heavy bags? How can we lighten our load every day?

Here are a few strategies I’ve incorporated for consideration:

1. Size to fit. If I have a big purse, I’ll fill it (or others will…”Hey, could you put this {trinket} {program} {pack of gum} in your purse so I don’t have to carry it?”) By keeping my purse small, I force myself to carry just the essentials. I find the same is true with our house. The more space we have, the more likely we are to buy furniture to fill it or to store things we aren’t  ready to deal with (and won’t until we’re forced to). And the time it takes to clean more rooms and move more stuff is time I’d personally rather spend doing 100 other things.

2. Shoot the “shoulds”. Are you putting off projects you know you should do? Consider dumping them. Give yourself permission to move on. I once threw away a dress I’d started sewing but was causing me stress. The sense of obligation to “finish what I started” kept it over my head and made me feel bad every time I saw it. Finally, I just pitched it and what a sense of relief! If your project must be done, find someone else to do it (trade for a project they don’t want to do or hire it done). Begin taking on just those things that energize you and you’ll have less agony over your own procrastinations.

3. Avoid one-ways. If some relationships feel like a heavy lift, consider whether or not this is a healthy option. Caring should go both ways. When there are a lot of strings attached or you’re doing all the work to keep it going, it may just be time to move on. I heard once that people come into our lives for a period of time or purpose. Sometimes the purpose of the relationship is served in a short amount of time and that’s okay. Not everyone is meant to be a lifelong friend.

4. Lower the bar. I don’t know about you, but I usually set a higher bar for myself than I’d ever expect of anyone else.  I forgive others far faster than I forgive myself. Probably, it has to do with being a perfectionist, which I’m trying to change. There may be legitimate reasons for feeling guilty about something in the past. But I believe in asking for forgiveness and forgiving myself. We can’t be perfect. It’s not possible. So what matter is not that we make mistakes but how we handle them afterwards. Many times I went to my kids when they were growing up and apologized for something I did as a parent that I later realized wasn’t the best choice. You can give others permission to mess up and know it’s not a life sentence when they witness your willingness to forgive and move on.

There are many ways to lighten life’s burdens. What tricks have you discovered?