Striving for a Simplier Life

If a simple life were merely a journey to SIMPLICITY, would we be happier beings?

If we could make life less complicated by pushing the “pause” button, many of us would reach for it immediately! No hesitation. The complexity of living everyday with our quotient of 329 million American humans can be overwhelming. Add the constant roll of small, medium, and large computer screens to the drone of “authoritative” words emitting from the televisions and ipads attacking our eyes and ears. It’s a wonder we can hear the voice of a significant other requesting a minute of our time or a child wanting a drink of water.

Our overloaded brains scream for a ceasefire, an adult time-out, but the continuous pull of endless detail takes us away from life’s essential quiet moments and into a sea of chaos. Sometimes we forget that WE are the arbitrators–the ones who decide how to parcel out the 24 hours gifted to us daily.

The screens can be seen as an antidote to daily life’s immediate crisis of the moment, job stress, and/or father-mother-hood. Soon enough when one show becomes a binge, it’s just another time-suck, robbing us of one-on-one time or contemplation about potential solutions to our conundrum.

Can we slow down enough to restore our eqilibrium to begin to feel the joy, ease the pain, and digest the anger of our fellow travelers? Could we swiftly realize life’s too short to deny ourselves the experience of basic empathy–without being pulled into the extreme emotions and unending debates of now?

Simplicity can mean stripping life down to its most basic parts to separate the necessary from the near-necessary, and the just-wanna-have-it from the rediculous, over-the-top luxury. Sifting through belongings can be a seemingly thankless task, but it could help determine the priorities in our lives. Are we ruled by the clothes and shoes we wear, homes we inhabit, cars we drive, or the meals we eat at trendy restaurants?

We’re all different in our wants and needs. Books are my guilty pleasure. Cut the cord in half when I moved west. Once I had 250 cookbooks acquired over two decades of travel–though they never lifted my culinary skills, I just WANTED the books to read and see the pictures! I’ve culled them to under 100, but can’t get myself to rely completely on online recipes.

I’ve transferred my loyalty to Hulu and have a nearly nightly habit that I try to limit to one daily tv show and a movie once a week. But sometimes on a long weekend, I binge a program and hear it’s entry music in my head for days. So I still struggle in that and other aspects of the simplicity realm, but I keep wacking at it trying to dull the noisy aspects of life.

I tell myself watching tv episodes helps me put together story arcs as I write, but I’m kidding myself. It’s just a way to relax after my evening walk, when I should be reading the stacks of books I purchased for “research” on my book that I continue each morning. I know as I work towards simplicity, I get closer to sifting my values–thinking more about what I want from life–and I make more room for ideas, instead of stuff. I come closer to achieving my values.

Game of Life: Time and Money

Life boils down to time and money–we all get the same amount of time. The money is parceled out based on our birth circumstances. Our financial bounty expands based on how hard we work, or the contacts we make, or we operate a deficit depending on how hard we played to fritter it away. There’s a third element that we forget–we can schedule or time and plan how to use our time and money, spending some of each to benefit the people around us. There’s a benefit that others might not see, but we can feel it in the community around us.

Priorities Matter

Several questions arise about how we use the resources we’ve been given. What will the planet receive in value, purpose, or beauty as a result of our efforts? Our priorities matter. Focus first on what you do well. For me that means “learning to paint” is further down my list because I’m realistic. But play also provides pleasure to the brain, opening it up to make better decisions later on, so it shouldn’t be ignored. Multi-tasking is for the business phoenoms. I require focus in order to achieve key goals.

After establishing your priorities, join me in setting a date to tackle one item on your simplicity plan. The walk-in closet review begins Monday am–to remove the weight of its burden from my belated to-do list and deliver to Goodwill several “useful-to-someone else” items. The books can wait.

Lincoln’s Simple Approach Won in 1863

Now that we have a physical plan for living a little simplier, let’s think for a moment about putting our thoughts on a simplicity binge. Seems the “more is better” philosophy has entered our correspondence, news, and daily conversations. Sometimes the more words we hear or say, the angrier we get, and the less likely we communicate successfully one-to-one.

Speeches from the past might strike you as “so many words” equally difficult to decipher, but the Gettysburg Address (signed copy) has a mere 270 words. Despite Lincoln’s suggestion that it would be soon forgotten, for 156 years his message has rung true. Today we are struggling to carry through on his words that “all men are created equal” and his promise of a “new birth of freedom” ushering in a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

A few short paragraphs of strong pithy words. That’s all it took to set the standard. Hard to live up to Lincoln’s words. I know my writing fails short. Far short. See if simplier isn’t better for you the next time you use the printed word to get a message across.

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