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Bonnie Frankel On How Simplifying & Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier

An Interview With Drew Gerber

Put things back where they belong.

We live in a time of great excess. We have access to fast fashion, fast food, and fast everything. But studies show that all of our “stuff” is not making us any happier. How can we simplify and focus on what’s important? How can we let go of all the clutter and excess and find true happiness? In this interview series, we are talking to coaches, mental health experts, and authors who share insights, stories, and personal anecdotes about “How Simplifying and Decluttering Your Life Can Make Us Happier.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Bonnie Frankel.

Bonnie was raised in the upper ten percent life style through the first half of her life. The second part of her life, she downscales in many areas as she discovers her path with the gift of running. By decluttering with rearranging her complicated lifestyle, Bonnie finds by simplifying her lifestyle, she became not only a more joyful but a nationally known activist/exercise guru.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?

Returning to the educational system after the completion of an unpleasant divorce (a nasty death of a dream), and a suicide attempt. What prompted my bold decision, was the judge took me aside and suggested I go back to school to find out what I wanted to do with my life. By challenging going back to the educational system where I failed when I was much younger, the path of my running career found me by being in the right place at, the right time.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There are many interesting stories that have transpired on my journey in my athletic career. The one thing that I never thought about is that there was no coincidence that I was coached by the likes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos It’s ironic that I have been the only runner that has been coached by the two athletes that had the courage to put up their hands in a silent gesture to salute black power in1968 Olympics. I began my running career at the age of forty-six with Coach Tommie Smith where I began competing on his team with kids half my age. John Carlos coached me at the end of my career when I was sixty years young after having a hip replacement to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on an invention to improve the elliptical machine to make it more flexible as well as being more user friendly on your joints. When people choose to use machines to exercise with, they can be harsh on your body parts because of the surfaces used. The other project I am working on is lecturing to companies and schools about the importance of finding the right exercise, as well as promoting my book. When we have a healthy mental mind and a sturdy physical body, we all make better decisions.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority on the topic of “How Simplifying and Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier”?

I have had the personal experience with the ups and downs because of the financial difficulties that occurred which forced me to declutter and simplify to the betterment of my life. There were times where I could afford the things that I felt instant happiness with but in the long run added too much clutter. When I had to declutter, it felt painful at the time because of having to give up. With the grace of time, I sooner than later, felt the joy of decluttering. It not only felt freeing, but I also was able to rearrange in my heart and mind that things were not as important as getting to the meat of what makes me tick. I understood the word KISS (Keep it simple stupid). Once I got over the shock of having to give up things, it truly simplified my life not in just things but in many meaningful ways. I felt joy in being unencumbered.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. We live in a time of excess. We have access to so much. But studies show that all of our “stuff” is not making us any happier. Can you articulate for our readers a few reasons why all of our possessions are not giving us happiness?

People derive happiness and growth from knowledge from their experiences in life not with their possessions. Things can give us fleeting happiness but interacting in life with others and self is far more permanent as well as more significantly rewarding. Interaction with others is what makes our lives thrive. The willingness to interact with giving and receiving love, doing for yourself, and helping others, and building friendships is what makes the world a better and happier place to live in. Possessions can’t hold you, love you, interact with others, and don’t give you long term interest or room to grow.

On a broader societal level, how do you think this excessiveness may be harming our communities and society?

By being all consumed with superficial excessiveness, prevents the interaction that is more meaningful with others. It gets in the way of connecting with those around us to build abundant, flourishing, and healthy communities in achieving a caring and healthy society. Having an exorbitant sum of possessions keeps us preoccupied within ourselves. When you have so much, you lose the importance of what really is essential in your life. Such as: who you are, helping others, sharing ideas, which in turn assembles a more symbiotic community in society.

The irony of struggling with happiness in modern times is glaring. In many places in the world today, we have more than ever before in history. Yet despite this, so many people are unhappy. Why is simplifying a solution? How would simplifying help people to access happiness?

Uncomplicating your life by choosing to live a simple one can guide you to become a healthier and happier person because it keeps you in control and allows you the time to put more focus on what is important to you. Cutting back is a solution because it erases unnecessary stress, frees up your time and energy and affords you more opportunities of things you want to enjoy in your day rather than just get through the day. I get rid of the nonsense from the burden of belongings that aren’t important to who you really are, what you want, and most importantly allow peace within yourself.

Can you share some insights from your own experience? Where in your life have you transformed yourself from not having enough to finally experiencing enough? For example, many people feel they don’t have enough money. Yet, people define abundance differently, and often, those with the least money can feel the most abundant. Where in your health, wealth, or relationships have you transformed your life?

When I lost my home, my book deal fell through, and my life story movie project was just beginning, I had to give up all my possessions as I was homeless. Yet I had the courage and felt confident to rebuild a new life in another city where I had twenty dollars in my pocket and knew no one. At the age of fifty- seven, I went to look for lodgings, went back to get a job with my skill in hairstyling as well as doing other odd jobs to maintain a lesser but a more simplified life style. My focus was to live one day at a time and rely on myself to provide for me. I had just recovered from hip surgery, and the directions of my life shifted. When I downscaled, the priorities I had for myself were simple and they were to get into a mentally and physically healthy place by using my skill and the love of the runs. I was at a place of transforming what was important to me by losing everything.

People, places, and things shape our lives. For example, your friends generate conversations that influence you. Where you live impacts what you eat and how you spend your time. The “things” in your life, like phones, technology, or books impact your recreation. Can you tell us a little about how people, places, and things in your own life impact your experience of “experiencing enough?

The feelings that I have with my friends give me the connections I desire which is to feel joyful, supported, enhances my mental and physical health, good listeners, and contentment. When I watch the sunset after my run or swim, the beauty of it brings me to a grateful place in my head as it stops the negativity that can sneak up. It initiates my ability to create new ideas and initiates the feeling of accomplishment. My writing articles, books, and coaching others allows me the opportunity to learn from as well as to voice my opinion on various subjects that brings me a sense of completeness. My Facebook connection with people such as reporters that covered me in the past, friends, and family that I don’t see every day makes me feel fortunate.

What advice would you give to younger people about “experiencing enough?

Limit your time with technology and spend quality time with your friends, family, and pets. Find a passion you would like to engage in that brings you in physical contact with others. An abounding of the younger generation lives on social media and online and isolates themselves from others. Perhaps taking a friend or a group with leaving your cell phones or watches at home, in order to enjoy an evening of entertainment together. Spend more quality time listen to others. Get involved in a project that helps people in need.

This is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and research, can you share your “five ways we can simplify and declutter our lives to make us happier?”

Limit your cell phone use.

Purchase less.

Keep what you love.

Make daily lists.

Put things back where they belong.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Simplify your life to lead a joyous one

How can our readers further follow your work online?, google bonnie frankel, amazon,

Thank you so much for these insights. This was so inspiring, and so important!

About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world. Schedule a free consultation at

Bonnie Frankel On How Simplifying & Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.