It’s that time of the year again, folks. People are starting to get the sniffles.
I was stuck at home for two days this past week fighting off a nasty cold myself.
And although I would have much rather spent that time getting some real work done, there is one tiny silver lining to a sick day stuck at home. As I was cuddled up with 4 different blankets (no joke!), and a nose to rival Rudolphs’, I couldn’t help but realize how it takes catching a no-good virus to get me to slow down and rest a bit.
Sometimes, when you have a low-grade fever and absolutely ZERO energy, you can experience a serene sense of calm that’s hard to achieve during the hustle and bustle of a normal day. The other things just don’t seem to matter – all you are focused on is resting and feeling your best again. I always feel extremely connected to my body and spirit when I feel ill, my mind just isn’t up to the task of dealing with the usual worry and chatter.
In fact, I remember back in my acting days , I would give some of my best performances when I had a fever. I just didn’t CARE how I was doing, so the performance was natural and uninhabited.
But living a direct and simple life doesn’t have to be a byproduct of catching a cold. In fact, it might be one of the greatest things we can do to help us stay healthy, sane, and focused on the things that matter most.
There is a certain beauty in living a simple life. And I don’t mean like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s “Simple Life” escapades back in the early 2000s…
Sometimes we get so caught up in our routines, our obligations, and the pressures that other people force upon us that we forget what is most important to US . Simplifying our lives allows us to get back to the basics.
WE ARE NOT MACHINES!
I see the people in the subway on my morning commute and they look like overworked zombies. We can not operate at full throttle 100% of the time; it’s just not possible.
Your boss can’t make you feel this way, your friends and family can’t pressure you, no one can extend you beyond your limits other than YOU. That is your choice to make.
And my guess is, not many of us ACTIVELY decide to wear ourselves thin; it’s just one of those things that happens.
Simplifying your life is the act of shedding layers, of recognizing the elements that are present in your life that no longer serve you . There is no shame in admitting that your routine is running you into the ground.
Sometimes we keep with certain practices out of habit, boredom, or fear of change. We’ve incorporated these habits into our lives SO FULLY, that we can’t fathom who we would be without them! Sounds a little crazy when you put it that way, huh? But it’s true.
For example, I used to be a die hard daily planner gal. In 6 th grade we had an assignment to write our homework in our daily planner, and from that moment on – I was hooked. I kept a daily planner all through middle school, high school, college, and well into my professional life. I scrapbooked the covers of my planners and I decked them out with various color systems and organizational strategies. I would drag that planner with me wherever I went.
And it served me well… for awhile .
Until I realized that I was spending an hour A DAY writing out my to-do list in my planner. I had this hang-up where I had to rewrite my list in a specific order everyday. And writing, and rewriting, and rewriting became tiresome and grueling. I logically knew that I was wasting time with my paper planner, but it had become such a structural part of how I organized my life, I just couldn’t get myself to let it go.
But when you feel the most resistance, and you know in your heart that a change could help you streamline and grow, that’s your inner wisdom speaking.
I knew this archaic habit of mine had run its course. I knew that I could use that time in a more fruitful way. I knew that I was resisting change because I was on the cusp of doing BIG THINGS with the extra time that would become available to me. I had simply outgrown this way of organizing myself.
And so I researched the best apps and online calendar applications – and I went digital! No more rewriting to-do lists. No more soggy planner pages caught in the rain. Everything is on my phone and at my disposal at a moment’s notice, with minimal effort on my part. (Looking for a SIMPLE to-do list app? Task is my favorite by far)
This might not seem like a big deal to some, but my friends were SHOCKED. They knew how much I enjoyed my planner. It was a ritual picking out a new design every year, or spending the time decorating the cover myself. It had become a part of me. They were in utter disbelief that I had managed to shed such a large layer in my life.
And not for a moment have I regretted the decision.
Because there is ALWAYS room to simplify our lives.
What are your guilty pleasures; the actions you partake in during the day that you know don’t bring you any real benefit, but you just can’t seem to shake?
Maybe it’s the habit of checking when you are bored. Or maybe it’s sleeping in for another 15 minutes, even though those few extra moments don’t bring you any real rest or joy.
I used to have a co-worker that smoked cigarettes purely because it gave him an excuse to go outside and take a 5 minute break during the day. He logically knew that he could take a break WITHOUT a cigarette, but the habit had become such a structural part of his day, his relationship with his friends at work, and his identity, that he didn’t know how to even begin to simplify and change his actions.
The key is to realize that you are not defined by your habits. You are not “the social smoker” or the “organizational planner gal”. Those labels and those habits are a choice that you make every day. So are you ready to shed the unnecessary labels and step into the new you?
Here’s my DIY Simple Life challenge to you:
Look at your daily schedule, the actions that you do everyday without fail. Make a list of them. Here’s an example:
- Get dressed
- Brush my teeth/wash my face
- Check emails
- Cook Dinner
- Go to work / work on side projects
- Talk to my boyfriend/soulmate
Look at your own list…are there any habits or habitual actions on that list that you could eliminate?
Not the things that bring you joy of course, but the items that are “filler” activities, the items that you use to keep yourself from doing the things that you know in your heart you want to be doing.
Watching TV is one for me. Sometimes, I throw on the TV when I am eating dinner and then I’ll want to finish watching the episode even though I’ve already finished my meal. One episode leads to two, leads to three, until I’ve spent half my evening in front of the tube! This is a habitual action because it’s mindless TV – the kind that just happens to be “on” when I need an excuse to keep myself from doing other activities.
This isn’t TV that gives me joy – (by no means do I regret bingeing on “Breaking Bad” with my boyfriend on Saturday nights!) What are the filler activities that you could afford to lose?
The simple act of removing the idle time in your schedule and replacing it with progressive action or purposeful rest will transform the way you view and live your life.
How could you create more time in your day for the things and people that you love? How could you create more time for yourself?
Instead of filler TV, I now like to meditate after dinner. It’s “ME” time, restful time that allows you to recharge after a long day, but is filled with intention and purpose. It’s active and purposeful rest – scheduled time that supports your health and mental well-being.
Habits are merely choices you forgot you once made.
Have a vow renewal with your habits…are you re-upping your commitment to them or are you kicking them to the curb?
When you engage in a simple life, you will have access to more of your natural energy.
The other day I learned a nifty trick on my iPhone where you can find out which apps were sucking the most battery life out of your phone. Here’s how to do it, in case you were curious .
And it got me thinking – we operate in the VERY same way.
We have so many running applications going on in our lives – meet with this friend, answer this email, go to this meeting, prepare for this presentation; it goes on and on. And if we leave those applications running, taking up precious real estate in our thoughts and schedules, our “batteries” become zapped. We wind up sick, overwhelmed, and unsure on how to move forward. And sometimes all we need to do is take a moment to see what applications are using up the most “battery” and decide for ourselves if they are worth it.
What could you remove from your schedule?
What do you WANT to remove from your schedule?
It’s your choice; even the items that feel like obligations are always your choice. You don’t have to work that job. You don’t have to work for that boss who doesn’t recognize your family commitments and priorities. They can be scary choices, but they are choices all the same.
And maybe simplifying means asking for help.
Hiring someone to help you walk the dog, asking a friend for some advice, or embarking on a life transformation journey . We can’t do it alone, and asking for help allows you more time to focus on the things that matter most to you. Maybe simplifying means setting boundaries and limits on the amount of time you spend on or . What does a simple life look like to you?
Go back to your original list. Look at the ways that you allocate your time and come up with the bare bones minimum that you can do. The absolute non-negotiables in your schedule (For example, showering would be one! As well as taking care of your children or pets!) and then, merely add in the activities that bring you peace and happiness. Then, no matter what, eliminate the rest .
Even if it feels scary. Even if you’ve NEVER done it this way before in your life. Those feelings will pass when you begin to feel the energy that a simple life will provide.
Because a simple life does not mean a boring life, or even an average life. Leading a simple life gives you the power and freedom to make the decisions that mean the most to you .
And that’s the point of living, isn’t it?
Let me know how your own DIY Simple Life turns out! What activities did you ditch? What activities were worth it and made the cut? How do you FEEL after shedding those unwanted layers? I’m revamping my schedule and will share the preliminary results with you in the comments section below. I can’t wait to hear how yours turns out as well!
And if Twitter-time makes your new simplified schedule…follow @Soultiply for daily bits of inspiration! But only if time on Twitter uplifts you and brings you joy…otherwise – turn it off and LIVE YOUR SIMPLE LIFE!