- Mental Health
Living the Simple Life - How Much is Enough?
It seems that I am always trying to simplify my life. You would think that this shouldn't be an ongoing process, but it seems I blink and life is crazy again. This has me thinking - how much is enough? How many clothes a child needs is one thing I think about. I remember last winter when my daughter came into my room and exclaimed, while crying, "I have too many clothes and nothing to wear!" Do you feel the same? I know I do at times.
Part of me thinks that to live a simple life I shouldn't have to work at it. But in today's society we are constantly bombarded with things that other people think we need. Clothing, electronics, activities, volunteering, food, etc. it seems that everyone wants to pull us in different directions. (Remember that when we own things, it takes our time to take care of those things.) Have you stopped to think about how much is enough for you? I know of a family that refuses to schedule more than one thing per day (aside from school and work). Whatever is first on the calendar is what they do. With six people in my family this just wouldn't work, but there are many days I wish I had this rule.
My kids all started school this fall and for the first time I have a few hours a day to myself. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked to help with an event, be on a committee, even to chair a committee at my church. As soon as people found out we weren't homeschooling anymore they would ask me. One of the reasons we wanted to put our kids back in school was to simplify our lives. Our goal is for me to get many essentials done during the day, so that we aren't cramming them in, in the evening. If I start saying yes to help at everything, I won't have any time for the essentials. It is a constant battle to maintain my time at home to keep our lives simple.
How simple you want your life is really up to you, but I challenge you to at least think about it. Look at your closet and ask yourself how many pairs of pants you really need. Think before you buy that new TV - is your old one really broken or do you just want a bigger one. Before you sign your child up for the travel baseball team (a real life example we are facing right now) think about whether you can make that commitment to the team. There will be a financial commitment as well as a time commitment. More than that, can you spare that time away from your family?
Think about your values for a minute. Here are some of the things I am thinking about as we decide on the travel baseball team. Is this beneficial to the whole family or just one person? While it may benefit one person, is it going to harm the rest of the family? Will I have the time or energy to take three other kids along to one child's game and practice - several times a week? Do I value sports more than homework? Exercise more than sleep? Can I make the financial commitment or would that money be better spent elsewhere (or saved)?
I think that people blindly go about their lives without realizing how their choices affect their quality of life. If you want to simplify your life you need to take a hard look at the things you already do or have and anything new coming into your life. Think about ways you can pare down and enjoy simple things more. Do you have to go to the movies for entertainment or can you go for a bike ride instead? Does it have to be the travel team or will the regular league work for us in the instance? Do you need another pair of shoes, or does something you already own work fine still?
Here in the United States we are faced with so many choices. Everywhere we turn we have a choice to make. It gets tiring at times. I often wonder how many brands of coffee there really need to be and what the difference is anyway. If you are looking to simplify your life, ask yourself - how much is enough? In every instance, you can take a moment to ask yourself this question. My guess is that we will find we already have enough.