There have been many times in my life when I trusted other people to know what’s best for me. I’ve trusted doctors, teachers, coaches, friends, authors and bloggers. At some point, if what they thought was best for me wasn’t, I’d be disappointed. And then I’d look for someone else to know what was best for me.
I started to put less trust in believing other people knew what was best for me right before I fired my first neurologist. I should have fired her when she told me I didn’t have Multiple Sclerosis and then told me I did five minutes later over the phone, while I was at work. There were other times I should have moved on, but I kept trusting that as a respected neurologist, she knew what was best for me. That changed during my last office visit when I went seeking her support to fight MS. I believed that I could change the course of my disease and my research supported that. I wanted to know what she thought.
Our conversation went something like this …
Me: Can diet, exercise or lifestyle choices change the course of my MS?
Her: No, not really.
Me: I know there isn’t a cure, but do you think MS is reversible?
Me: How many of your patients are improving?
Her: None of them are really improving. This is a chronic, progressive, debilitating disease. With MS, it’s a matter of how slowly or quickly it progresses.
She measured the success of her work and her patients based on the speed of their decline. I left the office in shock. The next day, I told her I didn’t want to work with her anymore, fired her and began to search for a new doctor who wanted to partner with me and allow me to be my own advocate.
A few years later, when we were selling our home to downsize to a small apartment, we got advice from many people we trusted. They suggested we wait to sell until the market bounced back. They said if we waited 10 years, we could make much more on the sale. We considered the feedback but remembered we knew what was best for us. Maybe we’d make more in ten years, and maybe we wouldn’t, but that wasn’t the issue. We were focused on how we wanted to live for the next 10 years. Did we want to take care of a big house? Did we want to replace the roof, the fence, the appliances, the carpet and all of the other stuff that would likely fall apart? Did we want to continue to invest our money, time, energy and other resources in a place we didn’t really want to live in anymore? Did we want to compromise the next 10 years just in case the market bounced back? Our answer was a hard pass.
In May of 2013, we moved from our 2000 square foot home to a 750 square foot apartment. We didn’t make a cent on the house sale, but we were finally all the way debt free. We didn’t owe anyone anything. We were free of other things too. Because we made the decision to rent for a while, we were free of the worry of things breaking down. We were free of maintaining a property too. For the first few months in our new space, Mark would wake up on a Saturday, look at me, smile and say, “Guess what I’m not doing this weekend? I’m not (and then he would insert one of the following) raking leaves, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or convincing the neighbor to split the cost of a new fence.”
I started to look at the other people I was trusting to know what was best for me. Maybe they didn’t know after all.
I know what’s best for me
It has taken a dedicated daily practice to trust my voice — the voice that knows what’s best for me. I made space and time to connect with my heart and hear what’s best by simplifying my life. My daily practice is some combination of writing, meditating, walking or stretching and then sitting quietly with my hands on my heart. Learning to trust and act on what I’m hearing involves experimenting, researching, asking questions, screwing up, starting over, laughing, and then doing it all over again. Sometimes I hear the voice, and know what’s best but try to ignore it and do something else. That never works. Not once. It’s never worked for me to ignore what I know is true.
A few things that have been best for me …
- Julia Cameron’s morning pages as detailed in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
- The ocean
- Knowing that what is best for me today may not be best tomorrow
- Not measuring my self-worth by my net-worth or proving who I am by what I do
- Becoming a gentle warrior
- Eating a mostly vegetarian diet
- Noticing the sunrises, sunsets, and the beauty in between
- Questioning my own assumptions and changing my mind
- Dressing with 33 items or less every 3 months (29, 45 or 52 may be best for you).
- Doing work I love
- Getting rid of most of my stuff
- Becoming debt free
I find great inspiration and guidance from hearing other people’s stories, talking to friends, and listening to advice, but when I want to know what’s best for me, I put my hands on my heart and turn to the person who knows me best.
I don’t know what’s best for you
Including the posts here in the archives, guest contributions and other articles, I’ve written more than 1000 pieces to help you declutter, simplify, reduce stress and live with better health, and more love in your life. I’ve written books and courses based on what I’ve learned and experienced, and visited 16 cities speaking about the power of simplicity on the Tiny Wardrobe Tour. Combined, these articles, courses, and tours have reached millions of people, but I still do not know what’s best for you.
Use the information you find on the internet, in books and courses, on this site, and anywhere else as pieces of the puzzle, but not as the end all be all. It’s not. No one knows what’s best for you but you.
If you want to know what’s best for you
Experiment, be curious, listen to your heart and remember you know you better than anyone else. Do whatever it takes to create an environment where you have a little time each day to sit quietly to listen and trust your heart. Clear the clutter, busyness, stress, and everything that doesn’t matter so you have time and attention for what does.
If simplicity is your way back to love, I’m happy to share what works best for me, give you helpful ideas, and encourage you on your journey. When you ask me for advice, instead of telling you what’s best for you, I’ll tell you what I’d do if it were me because that’s the most honest answer I can give you. When you are willing to listen and trust your heart’s voice, you’ll know what’s best for you.
I don’t know what’s best for you, but invite you to consider what is.