How have we let our lives become so complicated? Are we naturally prone to the feeling of multi-tasking, even though it causes stress? Or do we search for a way out of our complications through television, internet, shopping, work, families, possesions, eating, finances... All of which only further complicate our lives.
Our brains are not equipped for such expansive circles of friends, online or off. We are not capable of keeping in contact with everyone all the time. Mobile devices and social webpages can help you manage your contacts, but not your stress. When we fill our lives with so many obligations, commitments, and possessions, we are constantly hitting a wall.
One of the greatest things I have learned, which is also one of the most difficult, is how to live simply.
As a sophomore in college my main motto was to Simplify Everything! I even made a blog called SimpleZack.com that looked at every detail of what simplicity is and how one can achieve it. And all my effort paid off... I felt happier with myself and with life, I was able to run more often and be more confident. I went on to graduate college, get a good job, run a marathon, and now start a business. For the past year I have lived in a Tumbleweed Tiny House, which most people in this society might think is crazy, but it has been the best year yet.
It might appear as too much of a challenge, everything, really, Simplify Everything? But with conscious effort and some practice each day it can be quite easy. It will make your life more quiet, content, and lovely, filled with space and time to do the things you really want to do and be with the people who really matter most.
So how do you simplify?
Here are a few ways:
1. Subtract your obligations. Make a list of your commitments and choose one to knock off that list today. You will probably keep thinking of more commitments to write down, so what's wrong with getting rid of one? Find someone else to do the job or see if it needs to be done at all. After a while, if you choose to knock off a few more, then you may get in the habit of prioritizing and shortening your commitments list.
2. Disconnect. Don't look at Facebook. Don't even look at the internet. Turn your phone and television off. These distractions run our lives and make it difficult to do fulfilling activites, like focusing on our work, connecting with others, and being active. Choose an amount of time to cut out these distractions. Perhaps the morning when you can sit and have a cup of tea or the afternoon when you can read or relax with friends and family.
3. Get rid of stuff. Look around your house and pick 5 things that you can sell, donate, or give to friends. Who ever told you that you had to have things? No seriously, do you really need so much stuff? We have generally accepted that having a lot of books makes a great personal library. But how often do you actually read them? Maybe a few, but not all. Trust me, if you resort to a simpler, less-stuff-filled life, you will feel better. You will feel lighter and more alive. Plus, it feels so good to give things away.
4. Spend wisely. Spend only what you need to spend. After you get rid of things, don't replace them. Let the new space be space. Don’t buy anything except the essentials, food, toiletries, the basics. If you are having trouble figuring out what you might really need, then make a list to look at 30 days from now. If what is on that list is still something you need, then it's safe to get it.
5. Go outside everyday. Even if it is raining or snowing. Just step outside for a quick moment to breathe some fresh air. Dance in the rain! Don't stay stuck at a desk or on the couch. Take at least 5 minutes from the day to get outside, take a walk, listen to the life outside. Go for a hike or a run with a friend. Throw a ball or frisbee with your kids. Your life could change if you continue to go outside a little bit more each day.
6. Cook healthy. Start cooking at home more often. Learn easy meals with no meat involved. If you need meat, just add it as a side, rather than the main dish. Cook recipes with fresh veggies, make your own soups and sauces, and preserve the leftovers. Develop a cooking routine that is as nutritious as it is tasty.
If you are looking for a way to feel healthier and happier, try being more simple.