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Five Tips to Simplify Your Life
I'm sure there are many more ways to simplify your life. These are my top five. I invite your additions in the comments section below.
Be honest and have integrity. Always. If you can’t share the truth, then keep it to yourself. But under no circumstances should you actually make up a lie and tell it. Or set out to intentionally deceive someone. That is the quickest way to complicate your life that I know of. Do what you say. Say what you do. If you lie, you have to remember what you said, and to whom. And remember if you told something different to someone else, and then try to keep those two people from talking to each other. Talk about complicated!
Some may argue that withholding the truth, when it is “inconvenient” to tell everything you may know, is still dishonest. I would have to agree. Technically speaking, that is a dishonest practice. However, from a purely “practical” point of view, saying “less” is often the path toward a less complicated life. Unless, of course, withholding the truth will do actual harm.
Then there is the matter of the “little white lie” as people like to put it. Auntie Gertrude asks if you liked the multi-color sweater she painstakingly knitted you for Christmas (that hideous thing currently hiding in the deepest recesses of your closet). Do you say “I think it’s the most ugly thing I’ve ever seen,” or do you find something to say that will spare her feelings. I opt for the latter, but don’t go overboard. Don’t say, “I love it to pieces. I wear it every chance I get!” That is likely to put you in a position of wearing the eyesore to the next family gathering. Instead, find the middle ground, such as, “Every time I look at it, it reminds me of how much you love me.” Problem solved.
If you want simplicity, then less is more. Less to take care of. Less to clean. Less to protect. Less to store. Less to worry about. Much, much more time to simply “be.”
If you have accumulated a lot of “stuff” during your life – congratulations on your abundance! However, it will weigh you down, and complicate your life. If the task of decluttering seems overwhelming, just remember how to eat an elephant: One bite at a time. So pick a room or area to clean, set your timer for 25 minutes (one pomodoro, by the way), and go at it. Repeat until done. You will be amazed at how much “lighter” you feel.
Three: Say No
Just say “no” more often. Say “no” when they ask you to attend the party you really don’t want to attend. Say “no” when they ask you to be the VP/Secretary/Treasurer of The Department of Whatyamacallit at your local Church or Professional Organization – unless of course you have a burning desire to do it. Say “no” when your parents or friends tell you to do something you really don’t want to do, but feel you should say “yes” to because you love them.
Trust me, doing something because someone else thinks you should isn’t a good idea, unless, again, you really have a burning desire. Taken to extremes, you will find yourself having children to please Mom and Dad (even if you don’t want any), living in a large house to please real estate agent Uncle Bert (even though you would prefer living in a condo), and getting a dog to please your Animal Advocate friend Brenda (even though you are allergic).
I could write volumes on saying “no” to things you don’t want to do. Mainly because I have said “yes” too many times in my life, to things I really didn’t want to do (nothing salacious mind you). If you feel guilty saying no, then try this technique: simply say, “That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought of that.” Then immediately change the subject. You haven’t said “no” – thus eliminating a direct confrontation. And you haven’t said “yes” – creating complications in your simple life.
If pressed you can always follow up with, “I’ll need some time to mull it over.” Chances are the topic will quietly drop on its own. If not, you can always blame it on your husband/wife/significant other. “Gee, I’d love to, but my husband wants me to spend more time with him.” Who can argue with that?
Create routines that streamline your life and stick to them. Routines could include selecting your wardrobe for the next day and hanging it where it’s easy to put on in the morning, or setting up the coffee pot so it’s ready to go first thing when you get up, or washing the dishes once a day whether you feel like it or not, or paying all your bills on the same day of the month. There are dozens more I could list, but hopefully you get the idea.
Routines are meant to simplify, not to burden. Don’t create a routine that adds work to your life. Only create one that will ultimately save you time and trouble. Batch things together rather than doing them piecemeal (with stops and starts that waste time), or plan your errands in one large loop around town, rather than several separate trips. Don’t be overly rigid about it. Leave a little flexibility for what “life” will throw at you.
Do some introspection daily. Either with a journal (which I recommend), or just some quiet “think” time. Express your gratitude, vent your frustrations, do some problem solving, or whatever comes to mind. If you use a journal, you can periodically review it to look for trends. If they are positive, you can reinforce them. If they are taking you in the wrong direction, you can take mindful and informed action. If you find complications and difficulties that recur (that you may not have realized you had), you can begin to problem solve, and simplify your life further.
Hopefully you’ve found a tip or two that will help you simplify your life. I’d love to hear your tips for leading a “simple” life in the comments section below.