Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Simple Life

I have yet to meet anyone who wants to make their life more complicated.

Between work, family, friends, household tasks, personal goals, commitments, hobbies and everything else in life, we just don't want more to have to think about. However, when making a conscious decision to simplify or completely eliminate something from your life that others view as necessary or important, other people tend to experience some confusion.

Take, for example, the fact that I did not own a television for about a year and a half. When visitors came to my apartment, the first statement was usually, "There's so much room!" followed quickly by "Where's your TV?" TV's are such a trademark of American culture, it's WEIRD not to have one. You might as well not have running water or a refrigerator. I chose to simplify, but it confused people when I didn't meet expectations for what a "normal" person should own. I do own a TV now, but do not have cable.

It's difficult to simplify when you can't imagine living life without an object or without a certain time commitment. But do we really want living our lives to be contingent on owning objects or fulfilling schedule commitments? I'm not saying owning stuff or doing things is bad, but are these things enhancing our lives?

To really start down the path of simplicity, a person must stop merely paying lip service to the simple life. Often, people experience thoughts like "Ugh, all this stuff is stressing me out," "I wish I didn't have to go to _____ tonight. I never enjoy it. But I'd feel guilty if I didn't go," "Why do I never have time?" or "I'm so busy and overwhelmed! Will it ever stop?" but they just shove those thoughts aside so life can continue as it is expected to. Sometimes, we either don't want to change anything in our lives or don't see how we can change anything.

So what's wrong with just trying something different, even if it confuses those around you? Nothing has to be permanent, but starting to simplify life starts in very small trial periods. Would you benefit from an extra $100 or so a month by cancelling cable for six months? Would you have more time for reading, working out or your hobbies if you deactivated your Facebook account for two weeks? Would you get less late fees if you opened and dealt with your mail immediately? And would you have more family time if a child's after school commitments were limited to two? These are just examples; simplification requires personal creativity!

Yeah, you'll get weird comments, but that's perfectly ok. It's a great conversation starter!

As for me, I do strange things to pursue simplicity like not have cable and limit my time commitments so I have time & money to go hiking in Colorado and look at scenery like this (on the way up to the Hagerman Tunnel near Buena Vista, CO).

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