Guys! First off, I just want to apologize for being absent the last few weeks! I really don’t want to make this a habit. I’ve had a bit of an eventful few weeks. But none the less that’s no excuse for the commitment I have made to post each week! Even if you don’t care, I do. The perfectionist in me and all that.
Anyway, Since I’m so far behind, here is a post! And there will be ANOTHER post on Monday morning! So if you like my blog, SHARE IT and invite your friends and family to join in on the conversations!
Do you ever just feel completely weighed down and exhausted, and you don’t even know why? Maybe its the complexities of your life that are burdening you with an overload of information, experiences, relationships, and work. Sure, there are things you have to do. You have to have a job to pay bills. You have to clean your home and go to the grocery store. And relationships are important, so you can’t just cut them out. Though that is what we do. We tend to prioritize things in our life over people, and then we wonder why it doesn’t seem to make us feel any better when we cut out time with people to spend more time with our things.
I’ve had a realization recently that my life is just too full. It took me losing my full time job to realize this though. It may sound backwards, but it was when I had a little more time on my hands that I realized I was spending what time I did have on all the wrong things. When it was all on me being motivated and successful with my time to be able to pay the bills this month, that was when I realized I wasn’t being efficient, or a good steward of my time.
The last few months have taught me some things about simplicity. I’d like to share those thoughts with you. I hope you are able to take something away from this post that may help you, and throw out the rest.
1. Life doesn’t just happen
If there’s anything I’ve learned, its that good things don’t typically just fall into my lap, and life doesn’t just happen. Sure life is happening all around you, whether you participate in it or not. But if you intend on doing anything with your life, you have to make it happen. I think this is how God intended it to be. Sure, I believe He knows all things and sees all things. Much like an artist who is able to step back and see the whole painting, as well as every stage of creation of that painting from beginning to end, and we are more like the single brush stroke. We are unable to see the whole picture, so we play our part in the masterpiece. But I also don’t believe we are puppets in a play, being led by a puppet master. It’s more like a partnership where God may gently nudge us, but it’s up to us to take the step. So we can’t wait for the things we want to come to us. We have to go after them.
2. Cut out the noise
We live in a very noisy culture. People all sharing their own self-absorbed opinions at the same time like a real life Crossfire (anyone remember that show? I’m old now). We have multiple social media communities we are a part of. Not to mention Netflix, Hulu, movies, gaming consoles, texting, etc. I’m not saying these things are all terrible in and of themselves. But they serve no real purpose or significance in our lives. We would be wise to remember this when we are prioritizing our time. We aren’t given much time in a day. We spend a lot of time on these things. We need to remember to invest in ourselves. I’ve learned that investing in myself and my own spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health means cutting these things out more than I used to, and spending time reading, meditating, and exercising. I often do all of these things in complete silence because silence has become this taboo in our culture that is too uncomfortable to bear. We need to be ok with being alone with ourselves again. It benefits us in so many ways.
3. Get rid of what you don’t need
Now, before I go any further, please understand I’m not an extremist on this. I’m not one of those intense minimalists who only have things that are vital to my survival. I don’t live in a box in the woods and live completely off the land (though that really doesn’t sound too shabby to me anymore). But I do really believe that we all, on average, have too much stuff. We far surpass the standard of “need” in our lives. Many of us actually exceed “want”, which is a very dangerous game we play with the state of our souls. Giving in to every whim is poison to our well being. There’s a reason everyone else in the world looks at Americans as sickeningly spoiled. It’s because we are. Most of us don’t even know the meaning of “need”. It would do us good to begin limiting our lifestyles and learn a little self-discipline.
4. Prioritize the relationships that matter
This point may sound a bit cold, but the reality is that each person only has so much time and energy to devote the appropriate attention and care to any given relationship. We often spread ourselves too thin, thus creating half-hearted relationships with everyone, rather than having a few really great relationships. Obviously once you have a family they take precedence, which limits the number of relationships you are able to successfully maintain outside the home. But in any stage of your life, staying aware of how many relationships you can tend to enough to keep them healthy and stay well-connected is really important. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll begin to notice that you just feel exhausted by your friends and family all the time. You may begin resenting them or the time they are demanding from you. And you will most likely become quite flakey with them, thus damaging your relationship with them and their opinion of you. No one wants that. Keep it simple and be realistic with the quantity of your time so that you can give your relationships quality time.
5. Don’t stress over dumb things
I apparently have a really hard time with this one. I didn’t realize I was even doing it. I’m the type that buries everything and so it manifests itself in other ways. For me, it seems to be dangerously high blood pressure. On the days where I can intentionally maintain my stress levels, my blood pressure drops dramatically. The thing I’ve realized is that I have enough legitimate things to stress about (though I really shouldn’t be stressing about those things either) that I don’t have the time or energy to stress about things that don’t matter. I bet you are also like me in some way. We all waste too much energy on stress every single day. Let’s stop this behavior, because it’s literally killing us.
6. De-clutter your mind and learn to keep it that way
This might be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I struggle with this every second of every day. Honestly if you can do this one thing and be really successful at it, then every other point I’ve listed will come naturally without even trying. If you start with your mind, everything else will inevitably follow. Our mind is the most cluttered and over-worked part of us. We run ourselves to death in our minds. We’ve probably always done this, even before social media and TV and cell phones, etc. So in today’s culture, its almost impossible not to push our mind beyond its limits on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we always feel fatigued and unable to retain much information after lunch time each day. This is where I’ve been practicing meditation and learning to clear my mind and be able to focus on one specific task. You should give it a try and let me know how it goes.
So that’s some thoughts on simplifying your life. Is this revolutionary? No. Is this even something you haven’t heard before? Probably not. But it’s my two cents to add to the conversation from personal experience, and I thought I’d share it. So there it is.
Do you think your life is too cluttered? Have you ever tried to clear out your life for the things that really matter? What did (or didn’t) work for you?