Simplify By Slowing Down
It has been nearly a year since beginning in earnest to simplify my life, and a major theme that has emerged is slowing down. I’m certain when I say how busy life is, most people feel the same. Between work, school, kids and the everyday maintenance of life, it is really hard to catch a breath. But, intermingled in all of the hectic day-to-day stuff, our lives are passing us by. There is a reason older generations always say, “where did all the time go?” I’ve been trying to do a better job at consciously enjoying all of those small moments that fly by. My goal isn’t to begrudge their passing, but to savor them. I began by thinking about how to make the most efficient use of time. If life is happening in the moments, how can we capture and appreciate them?
Although our lives all have unique obligations, it is possible to slow the pace to some degree. In an effort to do this for myself, I decided to approach it like a budget. There are only 24 hours in a day, so how should I spend them? I decided to give my schedule a hard look. What things were necessary? Obviously those things would have to stay. What things was I doing out of guilt or an “ought to” mentality? Those things were a drain on my energy and life. I could better use that time if they were eliminated. It’s amazing to see how strongly our cultures, families, and religions influence us to do things that really aren’t that meaningful or important to us, yet we do them out of guilt or obligation. I know change is difficult, and I do not say this flippantly, but get rid of that stuff! It isn’t serving you, its weighing you down and wasting precious time!
Once I had sifted through the to do list of my life, I paired it down. Before I began, I wrote down what kind of life I wanted. I compared it with the life I had and the changes that needed to be made became crystal clear. I needed quality rather than quantity, and simple rather than busy. I have to admit, it aggravated my pride a little to let things go. Being busy made me feel accomplished and important, but in reality it was the opposite. Instead of spinning my wheels under the banner of BUSY, I wanted to work on HAPPY: MY version of happy, not the version my friends or family held.
Only you can define what a happy life means to you. No matter how hard it is, I encourage you not to put off change for another day. Haven’t you been doing that for long enough? Going through your stuff, your schedule, and your habits is hard work. But I promise you, once its done, this feeling of freedom and peace will be there. Instead of stress and fatigue, you will have the time and space to cultivate a meaningful life. We all only get to do this life once, and it won’t just magically happen – let’s get busy building the one we want.