Out with the Good, In with the New!

The old theme song goes something like this: “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have, the facts of life.”

But sometimes, life feels more like: “You take the good, you take the good, and there you have too much life.”

Sometimes, even good things need to go…

Letting go

Photo Credit: Camdiluv ♥ via Compfight cc

My wife wants to get a new dog. My oldest son wants to add a fifth extracurricular activity to his plate. My younger son can’t understand why we aren’t able to fit in wrestling, Legos, a movie, and book reading every night. My little girl wants to wear six outfits at once because they are all “bootiful.”

Here at UnTangled we talk a lot about redeeming the painful things in life. Yet, many difficult decisions in life are about having to choose one good thing over another.

Giving Up Good Things  

We live in a world in which a virtual cornucopia of good things is available to us with the push of a button or the swipe of a finger. The Chicago Tribune reported last week the majority of adolescents now prefer a smartphone more than a car. Because a car can only take you to one good place at a time, but technology can deliver you to many good places, all at once.

Sometimes, we work hard to be grateful for the good things in life. And we should be grateful. But we can “grateful” our way right into overloaded and stressful lives, full of every manner of good thing.

Sometimes, if we want to live rich, textured, and sane lives, we have to sacrifice some of the good things, too.

We have to make choices and let good things go and creates space for depth instead of breadth.

I love my wife and I love my kids and I cherish my friends and I adore my clients and I am passionate about this blog and I am fueled by quiet and contemplation and there is no end to the good things I want to do.

But I need to make some choices and let some good things go.

So, I’ve settled on eliminating the “second weekly post” for a while. That’s not to say I won’t ever post twice a week. It’s just to say I’m not planning to. Yet when something happens to rock our world, or holiday inspiration strikes or I just get antsy and have something to say that can’t wait, I won’t hesitate to send you a surprise post.

Welcoming New Things

But sanity isn’t the only reason to eliminate good things from life.

I heard Bob Goff speak at the Story 2012 conference last September. He said he cuts out a good thing in his life every Thursday, because if you want to grow and be renewed, you have to make space for new good things to arrive in your life.

He said on the way to the conference that morning he had called up the head of a board he sits on and he had quit. When the man asked why, Bob told him, “Because it’s Thursday!”

Bob said he was excited about what new thing might be coming down the pike to fill that newly vacated space in his life.

Letting go of the “second post” is going to make some space in my private life, but it’s also going to create space for some good-new things here at UnTangled. So I want to take just a minute to tell you about some of those things (and then I want to ask you a question):

  1. Beginning with the next post, all posts will have a link to an audio version narrated by me. It will be in the form of a Quicktime audio player at the bottom of each post. If you read the post by email or RSS, there will be a link to the website where you can access the player on both your home computer and mobile devices. My posts are longer than the average blog post, and I hope this will make them more portable—something you can listen to on the go.
  2. I think it’s time for me to start writing a book. There, I said it. And I want your help writing it. To that end, in the near future, I want to initiate periodic video hangouts on Google+. They will serve as focus groups to develop ideas around shame, grace, marriage, parenting, and life—and those ideas will become the material for the book. I want you to be a part of it. Stay tuned for more information.
  3. Finally, I have posted here at UnTangled on Fridays since the very beginning. For the first time, I will be moving the weekly post to Wednesdays. This post begins that new rhythm and my next planned post—“How Our Friends Bring Us to Life”— will be next Wednesday, April 10. 

A Question

At its best, this life is like a cornucopia overflowing with abundant fruit and a deep magic. And yet, like anything that overflows, it periodically needs to be emptied a little. Our lives need to be emptied a little so new fruit can spring forth.

What are the good things in life you want to experience, for which there is no space—not because life is just stressful and painful, but because life is overflowing with good things?

What kind of fruit is waiting to grow into your life, with a just a little space for it?

Share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

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Free eBook: My eBook, The Marriage Manifesto: Turning Your World Upside Down, is available free to new blog subscribers. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can click here to subscribe, and your confirmation e-mail will include a link to download the eBook. Or, the book is also now available for Kindle and Nook

The Mess: The messy places in life—and the messy places within ourselves—present us with a choice. Because the mess is where our shame collides with grace, and we can choose to succumb to shame, or we can fight to receive grace. Come visit The Mess, and join the rebellion against shame. And as always, thank you for reading; it’s a gift. Sincerely, Kelly

Disclaimer: This post is not professional advice. It should be read as you would read a “self-help” book. For professional and customized advice, you should seek the services of a counselor, who can become more intimately familiar with your specific situation. Counselors can be located through your insurance network or through your state psychological association.

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Deborah Suess Weaver

    I am learning that if I embrace idea that everything is always evolving, then I must also see my own journey as one of change. If I fear change, I cannot evolve. If I cannot evolve (adapt), I will not survive. I must look the liar which makes me fear straight in the eye and say thank you, I forgive you, I love you. Then turn toward what that release may offer me. Good for you, Kelly! I’m looking forward to both your audio feed and your web focus groups.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Would love to have you join a focus group, Deborah!

  • Jennifer Newell

    It is true too much of a good thing can really not be good for you. A co-worker recently said in passing he was overwhelmed with all the good things he is trying to do. I told him that he needed to find a way to say no to something so he would have time to enjoy the remaining good things on his plate.

    I am certain the once a week blog from you will be more than enough to keep my head spinning and thinking things through. At times it seemed like I had just barely processed my thoughts on the subject when you had another post. So for me it will give me time to really think through the thoughts and Ideas you have presented.

    I wish you well with your book. I know you have a heart and a passion for the topic. I am sure your work and research will provide insight and an opportunity for us to grow from just reading what you have to say.

    I have made changes in my life in the past few months. I now have time to enjoy crafts with friends and this summer, I plan to start a home bible study with a few girlfriends. Adding in the new can change your life to be richer and fuller.

    I hope your wife gets the dog.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Summer. The idea itself seems to have space doesn’t it? And yet it seems like every year it gets filled up with so many activities. Maybe this year we can try to be intentional about leaving space to lounge on a summer day.

      Without a dog. : )

  • Cherrie Dudash

    I’ve just left my home in Oklahoma for my boyfriends house in Missouri. I had to let go of a lot of ‘junk’ when I packed up my house, but it was all good stuff! Mostly memories from my past that I wasn’t sure I was ready to let go of. But I did it and I am so happy I did! Rob and I are embarking on a new journey together and now I don’t have to look back at those memories with regret because things didn’t work out. Basically, I threw away the past that had haunted me because o the reminders I had held onto. A new beginning deserves new spaces for shiny new things that Rob and I are going to experience. Now there are a lot of holes to fill with new good things!
    Thank you Dr. Kelly for your inspiration every week. You will never know how your common sense talk has lifted me and given me hope for the future. Again, I thank you.
    Cherrie

    • drkellyflanagan

      Cherrie, what a thrilling moment in your journey. Best of luck to you and Rob!

  • Candice Marquette

    I’ve always practiced this when I decorate….get rid of some things before I bring in new to avoid clutter but I never thought to do this with my “good things”. I felt like there was not enough time in a day to do all the stuff I enjoyed. I face palmed myself after I read this post and let out a “duh, why didn’t I think of that”. I totally want to be in a g + hangout. I’m liking your new space…it’s so roomy.

    • drkellyflanagan

      : ) It’ll be fun to meet you more “officially” in the hangout. I’ll keep you posted. And to attest to your last comment, I did feel a sense of “roominess” today after posting, and it resulted in some of the most fun I’ve had writing in a while. Space is, indeed, good!

  • Janneke Marquez

    I’m so “tuned in” right now to your posts, Dr. Kelly! Wow. The wavelength from which you project your thoughts is so close to the one i’m traveling right now. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there for me to find. I have recently thought a lot about the fruit of the tree of my life and my focus this year is on abundance. Thank you for reminding me to create a vacuum in my life to attract even greater things! I like your practical tip you shared from the story to pick a day to create that vacuum. I support your new change as well and look forward to your additional posts. The audio format might be helpful! My husband and I are currently waiting for a 2nd child to come into our lives… that is the fruit I am hoping for. Perhaps I will try an experiment to see if by creating the space for this change, it will manifest the very thing I desire. 🙂

    • drkellyflanagan

      Congratulations to you and your husband! I remember that sense of creating space, both physically and emotionally, for the new arrival. Please let us know when the new little one arrives!

  • Kelly

    I have experienced some of the most hurtful relationships for more than 12 years, became detached to reality, was afraid to move forward and just focused on my ever-stressful career. After reading Dr Kelly’s “Out with the Good, In with the New! article, I never truly realized how sad I am. I’m going to enter the online dating circle and hunt for that special someone to fill the gap in my heart. It’s time for a big change and I hope to find the right one this time!

    • drkellyflanagan

      From one Kelly to another. : ) Sometimes its okay to be sad. Be sure to give yourself space for that, too!

  • Kim

    Kelly, I will miss your second post of the week, but I am so excited about the changes you are making 🙂 I can’t wait to hear your audio posts, and I am thrilled that you are taking the leap and writing a book.

    I’ve been doing a lot of “letting go”, and since stress pushed me into illness recently, I’ve been thinking about letting go of some “good” things too. I want to have space for rest and peace, and if some other good thing comes along, space for that, too.

    I love that this post gives me permission to do that 🙂 You are a gift 🙂

    • drkellyflanagan

      Thank you, Kim. Your writing has been a gift to me, too!

  • Nadia

    I just read a book called ‘Mindfulness for Beginners’ by Jon Kabatt-Zinn. You’ve most likely heard of it. In it he talks about the concept of becoming human beings rather than Human doings. We are so caught up on the doing that we forget how to just be. Be in the present. Your post is a timely reminder of that. We can truly be in the present and squeeze all we can out of it if we are too busy perpetually stressing about the next present moment! Thank you Kelly for all you do.

    • drkellyflanagan

      Nadia, right on. His writing contrasting the “doing mode” of the mind versus the “being mode” sent my life in an entirely new direction about six years ago. Until we learn to simply be, the waters never get still enough to see into the depths. Thanks for this reminder!

  • Jan K

    After a very full spring, the fall is looking to be very open (partly by choice, partly not). I appreciate the timely reminder that opening up space can create room for depth rather than breadth and that “if you want to grow and be renewed, you have to make space for new good things to arrive in your life.”

    • drkellyflanagan

      Jan, I hope you guys do get a break this Fall!

  • Guest

    This is an excellent article (talk given at a conference of the LDS church) that goes right along with what you are saying. It has guided us as we raise our 4 daughters and as I embrace my willing, yet limited capabilities to accomplish it all.

  • Pamela Kenrick

    This is an excellent article (a talk given at an LDS church conference) that has guided my husband and I as we raise our 4 daughters. It has also helped me embrace willing, adequate, yet limited capability to accomplish it all.

    http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/10/good-better-best?lang=eng

    • drkellyflanagan

      Pamela, I’m going to check it out right now. Thank you!