Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don't be a Simpleton

Throughout life I have struggled with a very difficult and overwhelming concept…simplicity.

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”  
-Henry David Thoreau

It took me a while to realize that my lack of ability to simplify has really been the root cause of numerous issues including but not limited to…obsessively checking emails…scheduling 30 hours of events in a 24 hour day…eating a whole bag of almonds in place of breakfast, lunch, and dinner…walking into work with the pants inside out…and the ever classic only shaving one leg in the shower.  Once you forget how to simplify it’s like all logic is left in the dust, just like that poor neglected right leg.  The other ridiculous things that clutter your life become more important than oh I don’t know general hygiene, or mental clarity for example.   
If only July didn't have to end

As summer starts to come to an end I feel like things have veered off relax in the sun road and are heading towards overwhelmingly hectic (and when I say veered  I mean came hurdling like a projectile missile in the opposite direction of peaceful bliss).  I am not sure if my issue with simplicity comes from misinterpreting its meaning or some irrational fear of being boring…maybe it’s both? Regardless of the root cause, the main thing I want to avoid in a quest for simplification is living like a simpleton. Simpleton life is when your body imprint is clearly identifiable in the couch, and the remote is now a molded replica of your grasping hand...finger prints and all.  Simpletons may find the thought of arriving 5 minutes early unthinkable, or rent by the due date out of the question. No, I could not stand to have the most exciting moment of my weekend be adding some new documentaries to my instant-que (which would probably be a very real issue if I actually had Netflix). I think a lot of us are wired this way, or at least we are socially pressured to avoid being that boring girl who likes to clean the kitchen on a Friday night. 

Taking relaxation very seriously while traveling

When considering simplicity I realized many other factors that may hinder the ability to simplify. Here are a few of the big ones...the ones that could mean the difference between unintentionally sprouting an extra limb to manage your life and calmly finishing your day relaxing on the couch.  

Before finding simplicity you must have...

1. Patience: As you strive to simplify be patient as your busy bee tendencies try to squash your attempt to sit down and read a book. First and foremost step away from the computer it is the ultimate trap if you are trying to think of things to fill your time. This is what leaves me up at 2 am typing things out as opposed to sleeping on a Sunday night. I tried laying on the couch yesterday and committed to watching TV purely for the purpose of zoning out. It was a rare occasion in which I had a day filled with nothing so so rare. You wouldn't believe how hard that was! I spent the entire time feeling antsy like I was hoping the show would end early or something so I could go do stuff. If you are trying to simplify finding patience in the little moments, and being comfortable with turning off the to-do list is a must.

Taking a stroll
2. Discipline: The 'gotta get shit done' tendencies are so tempting. How awesome would it be to go clean the entire apartment, have dinner with 5 different people, and send 200 emails all in one day? Uhh undeniably amazing?! Productivity is a huge source of reward in this busy world we live in. Before I sat down and tried to watch TV yesterday I went on a walk. No more than 20 minutes in was I trying to make more plans to fill the rest of the day instead of simply enjoying the time to be outside.  Luckily I came to my senses and was forced to scale back the big plans. When you are committed to simplification it will be easier to see what in life is allowed to stay and what has gotta go.

3. Perseverance: Keep simplicity as a theme, consider it a lifestyle change in order for long term success.  Unfortunately one day of forced relaxation can't tame even the most disciplined and patient Busy Bettys.  When you add work and education into the equation that whole being present in the moment thing seems as absurd as a full nights sleep.  Life will always be chaotic to some degree. By taking the chaos in small doses and analyzing how to simplify, things can become much more manageable.

...and most importantly don't become a simpleton.