Excerpt: 'Lighten Up' By Peter Walsh

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aspect of their lives, and no matter how hard they try to change directions and find solutions, they continue to hit walls, go in reverse, or just give up entirely. It also comes at a time when record numbers report their dissatisfaction with their relationships, frustration with their job, and an overwhelming sense of unhappiness with life itself. And—like clutter—the pile of misfortune, exasperation, deferred dreams, and troubled relationships keeps accumulating. Some of you may have decluttered in the past, performed some serious spring cleaning, and invested good intentions in your attempts to organize your life. But was it all to no avail when the recession hit? Did the physical stuff get cleared out but leave a huge emotional and personal vacuum in its place? What happened? Where did you go wrong? Why couldn't those good intentions help you to avoid, at least a little bit, the ravages of the recession? The answers to those questions are in this book. And so are the straightforward solutions for turning this around for good. Some say that money is the root of all evil. I'm not a subscriber to that theory, but I do believe that our attitude to things, and especially our attitude to money, has hugely contributed to the mess we're in.

The news isn't all bad. I know that thousands, if not millions, of families are taking advantage of the downturn to reboot their values and their plans for their futures. This is a huge plus. We've lost money but we've found a sense of priority in our lives. We are more aware of the difference between needs versus wants and entitlements. We are increasingly conscious of our environment, and no longer have to drive the heftiest SUV on the road. We don't care for another 2,000 square feet of living space if we can live comfortably with what we have and pay our mortgage on time. We are more apt (more out of necessity than anything else) to tell our children that they won't be getting x, y, or z these holidays. And I sense that there is a growing awareness that less really can be more. That being thrifty, when done right, can be surprisingly liberating, pleasurable, and rewarding all the way down to our happiness centers. When I ask people which words describe how they want to live now, I don't hear words like "big" and "large"; I hear the words "simply," "peacefully," "modestly," "with less stress," and "with more real connection to loved ones." Happiness doesn't come with a hugely expensive price tag, a maxed-out credit card, a crushing mortgage, or keeping up with five thousand "friends" on Facebook! I'm going to show you how thrift allows you to evaluate the world anew. Frugality is not about deprivation at all. Much to the contrary, it's about examining life's possibilities, then homing in on the ones that make you happiest.

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