Life is not complicated, only that we make it so.
♥ Nicole Cody
Yesterday, on my facebook page, someone told me that they longed for more simplicity in their lives. How could they make it so, they asked.
That’s a valid question given that we are surrounded, even bombarded, by media telling us we need this, we have to have that. To be successful our lives need to look a certain way, and we need to be able to measure up to certain expectations. Perhaps that is why shopping has become the number one pastime in so many countries. And, of course, in order to have those things we need to work harder, and longer. We rack up more debt. We lose our freedom bit by bit, without realising what is happening.
I realised this after living in Palau. My life shrank down to one suitcase, an old but large hotel room, a smaller budget. Access to a car, but needing to go most places on foot. That smaller space, with few possessions was a major readjustment, but I soon found myself happier, freer, and filled with creativity. When I came home to Australia I walked around my house wondering how I had accumulated so much stuff. There was so much to pay for, so much to keep clean, and I used so little of it!
Simplicity, like happiness, is a choice.
On first appearances that might seem unfair, or even impossible. But think about where you are now. Every single choice you made, every decision you took, led you to where you are.
And even if life has forced certain circumstances upon you (Global Financial Crisis, unemployment, illness) you still have power, because you still have the ability to choose your thoughts and actions.
If you’re in a place of complete overwhelm, I suggest you start here – with a post I wrote recently on burn out, how to recognise it and what to do about it.
You could also try a process of reverse engineering. This is where you pull something apart to figure out how it was made, so that you can copy or rebuild it, or even modify it. We need to reverse engineer your life, so that you can work out where to begin making changes.
Start with these questions:
- What is my daily routine? Do this for each day of the week. If there is no routine, just write down how much time you spend on the key areas in your life each day for one week by observing yourself honestly and recoding your actions. It will average out. You can also do this for your partner or children too.
- What are my financial commitments? This is a biggie and some people have never taken the time to work this out. If you’re one of them I know it can be scary and confronting, but if you don’t have a true picture of where you are, you won’t be able to make sound decisions about where you go next.
- Look over your answers. This is the critical part. Is there time left over at the end of each week? Is there money left over at the end of each week?Spare time is vital for a feeling of well-being, and for having adequate coping mechanisms for life. Being too tightly pinched for money generates great stress, which has a huge negative impact on health, relationships and energy levels.
Life is precious. It’s worth making changes to give you a more satisfying life. From experience I’ve learned that most stuff doesn’t make you happy. Certain stuff can make life easier and more pleasurable though. Maybe you need a good computer, or a comfy arm chair, or a nice teacup, or a great holiday adventure. But what about the rest of your life? How much of what you own do you actually use?
Can you get by with smaller, fewer or none at all? Are you giving time and energy to what really matters in your life. Maybe it’s time to actively simplify your life, bit by bit. Downsize, divest, say no to extra demands upon your time and energy. Look to places, jobs and people that support a more fulfilling lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be five-star to be enjoyable! Change doesn’t have to happen all at once, but when you have a plan it is far easier to create a new reality.
All change requires effort, but change is possible. In the end, imagine the choices and relationships in your life. Imagine removing them. Is there a sense of loss or panic, or a sense of relief? Sometimes it’s as simple as that.