Simplicity without Sacrifice

I am convinced that the idea of simplicity has taken a turn for the worst. When I was reading through articles for a stress program yesterday I was getting more stressed out when I came across 500 different articles about how to simplify things from your life to your sock drawer. You feel like you have to read every single one and then just when you think you have found the answer to minimizing the excess, another one pops up that says you are doing it wrong. The simplification process suddenly becomes complicated, leaving you even more stressed out than before as your computer crashes from too many ‘how to’ tabs open and your planner self combusted from having too much in it.  

In our ‘gotta be the best’ hungry society we somehow managed to turn a very wonderful and amazing sense of clarity into something that is regimented and defined by all of the millions of ‘how to do ya-de-da in 5 easy steps.’ Hate to get all philosophical here, but if everything involved 5 simple steps we as intellectual human beings would be as complex as an Easy Bake Oven.You want to keep it simple but not too simple, freeing yet not too freeing.  We have somehow managed to construct this belief that to live simply you must be either a Ken Westerfield (the 1960 hippie who invented freestyle Frisbee) or a participant on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid.  Either way you are left somewhere in the middle wondering which direction to go (I vote Ken’s team but that’s just me).  No one wants to feel as if they must flip their life when it starts becoming too chaotic.  It is universally understood that there will be ups and downs, so instead of fighting for perfection embrace your current situation and address the aspects that are dissatisfying. 

After reading through…I kid you not…15 different ‘How to simplify’ or similar articles, I decided to try thinking of less invasive techniques. Since not all of us have time to meditate for an  hour every day or pre-make a weeks worth of kale smoothies that supposedly calm your mind, here are a few smaller less aggressive suggestions on embracing the simplicity of life…without giving away all material possessions and denouncing processed food. 

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 photo from: tealcheesecake.tumblur.com

Keep an empty shelf: No matter how messy your room gets, an empty shelf is like a beacon of hope that you will some day see your floor again. When your personal space starts getting cluttered, the same feelings translate into other aspects of your life.  

Stop avoiding: The trash is piling up, you still haven’t studied, the last time you went to the gym there was snow on the ground, all because you got sucked into another Netflix series.  There is nothing worse than sitting on Facebook and agonizing about all of the things that need to be done.  Just go do it! 

Go to bed: I know this is the universal cure all for anything health improvement related but that’s because it is!  Things don’t seem nearly as unbearable when you are well rested.

Have scissors around: There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to open something. I went a whole three weeks without scissors in my apartment. You have no idea how necessary those bad boys are until you try to open a bag of carrots with a knitting needle.  

Do your dishes when you use them: For both you and your roommates sake keep a clean sink. Visitors don’t want to feel like they are going to catch scurvy if they get too close to your sink and neither do you. Any chaos you are feeling can immediately be calmed by doing dishes I promise. 

Are you the bag lady/man?  Remove one item from it every day. When you are constantly on the go and trying to simplify it can sound like a good idea to just pack everything into one big bag. This ultimately leads to you accumulating everything from empty gum wrappers to a million different charger cords.  If you chose to be a bag lady/man try to clean the bag at least once a week and it won’t take you a half hour to locate your keys.  

 I hope this made your ‘how to’ search a little easier to understand. When you are dissatisfied with how your days are going take a minute to step back and consider what ways work best for you and live simply.  

-R

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