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Living Simple: Five Steps Towards A Simple Life....Installment Six
LOOKING BACK, AND FORWARD, AND IN THE MIDDLE
So many of my readers are so darn young; good thing I like them all or I would have a resentment! The point, though, is that those born in the computer age, or the heightened technology age, are lacking a certain amount of perspective. Those of us who were born way back when, and you know who you are, have a different perspective for sure.
We can remember back to rotary phones and typewriters; we can remember back to pre-cable days and pre-microwave days. We can remember when families ate meals together, and we can remember when neighbors sat on their porches in the evening and listened to a ballgame on the radio.
It is an interesting time that we live in. Debt reigns supreme, more is better, and our entertainment is provided by strangers on the internet who air their personal laundry on a thing called Facebook. The most popular shows on television are those that claim to be reality tv, although none of us who watch those shows live in a reality that even slightly resembles that which we are watching.
We have become a convenience society, gaining weight, gaining stress, and gaining so many obligations that we don’t have time to eat or sleep properly.
As hard as it may be to believe, there was once a time when nobody owned a cell phone; families had one car, and in many households only one spouse worked a job. There was once a time when families had meals together, when life was not so hectic, and when values had meaning.
Those of us who embrace the Living Simple way of life have made a commitment to return to those days gone by, and we are rewarded daily with a bounty of happiness. It has happened for us, and it can happen for you. However, it requires a willingness to try, and it requires a willingness to toss out many pre-conceived notions that many people have followed all of their lives.
If you are ready and willing, then happiness awaits. Let me share with you five steps that can help you regain some important things you have lost.
ANALYZE YOUR ROUTINE
Here is a fun exercise you can try any old day of the week. Make a chart that details exactly what you do in a day, and include the times that you did those things. You need to be as specific and detailed as possible….and you need to be honest, no matter how much it hurts.
Now, the point of this exercise is to see just how efficient you are with your time, but also to see just how many times you cross the same bridge during the day. I have known people who make three and four errand runs during the same day. Run one errand, come home, run another errand, come home, and on and on, in a dazzling characterization of a cat chasing its tail. There are only 24 hours in a day; if you are getting the seven hours of sleep you should get, you now only have 17 hours to do everything that needs to be done. Do you really have time to waste?
Well, the fact is that you do have time, but it’s not a waste if you organize better. You will find that by organizing your time, you will have more time to enjoy life, and that’s the whole point of Living Simple.
What is really important? This question should be the guiding light of your life, from this day forward. What is really important? Once you shave away all the things that are not important, you will be well on your way to Living Simple.
Make a list of the things in your life that are important, with most important at the top of the list and then going down in lesser importance. What’s first, family? What’s next, health? What comes after that? Job? Comfort pleasures? I don’t know because I can’t speak for you, but I do know most people would put family and good health at the top of their list.
Now, let me ask you this: how much of your daily time is devoted to those most important items? Do you see where I am going with this? If you have named your priorities, but most of your time goes to something further down your list, then you have life backasswards as my dad used to say.
And I can hear people saying, “but I have to work twelve hour days to provide for my family,” and again I say you have life backasswards! Ours is a society that is constantly on the go; where we are going is up for debate, but by God we have to keep going!
NO WE DON’T! What has happened is that many people have bought into this nonsense and it is nonsense. So many things that we claim have to be done in fact do not have to be done at all. We have simply chosen to let those thing eat up more and more of our time.
Again, what is really important? I’m reminded of a movie with Bill Murray; I believe the movie was called “Meatballs.” In it, Murray plays a camp counselor, and in one scene his team of kids is just getting the crap kicked out of them in a basketball game. He gathers them all around him at halftime and starts a cheer….It just doesn’t matter….I just doesn’t matter….I just doesn’t matter!
Do you get the point? What truly matters? Everything else is fluff!
This is a tough pill to swallow for many people, but you do not have to be perfect. In fact, perfection is highly overrated. Modern man is awfully busy trying to reach perfection, and the amount of time spent in that quest is time that could be spent enjoying life. It makes no difference what task we are talking about; everyone wants to do it perfectly.
We have to have the perfectly manicured lawn; we have to do the laundry perfectly and we have to clean the house perfectly. Well, no we don’t! We have just chosen to live out our lives like being perfect really matters and you know what? It just doesn’t matter!
This writer has learned to embrace imperfection. I find great joy in it! I do just enough of a job to get it done and then I walk away from it, perfect or not. Our home will never, and I mean never, be the centerfold for Better Home and Garden magazine. Do you want to know why? Because we don’t care! I would rather go for a walk with Bev than make sure the dusting was done perfectly. Let’s see, walking with my lover, or dusting???? Hmmm, tough choice, I think…… I’ll go for the walk!
I was married to a woman once who would spend hours and hours on housework. I asked her once why it was so important. She looked at me like I had part of last night’s dinner stuck in my front teeth. She said because if someone came to visit she wanted everything to look perfect. I’m laughing as I type that….IF someone came to visit…..well, enough said! What is truly important?
SPONTANEITY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
Do you remember when you were a kid? Spontaneity ruled the world back then, didn’t it? A friend would call up and you would drop what you were doing and off you went. It seemed to happen daily and it was so much fun.
When was the last time you were spontaneous? I mean goofy, drop-dead whacky spontaneous! When was the last time you danced in the rain, or went skinny-dipping? When was the last time you made love out on the lawn, or pulled a prank just for the hell of it? Hey, when was the last time you called in sick to work because you just didn’t feel like working?
Back in the day, when I was raising my son as a single parent, we would go on a two-week vacation every summer. We would pack up our clothes, fill up the car with whatever we thought was necessary for the tip, and then we would choose our destination the day we were leaving. You read that correctly; we had no idea which way we were going until we were ready to leave, and then we would spin a bottle on the ground and head in the direction it pointed.
With no particular destination in mind we were free to stop at any sites we were attracted to, and we had no need to rush to a place. Every part of the trip was the destination, and we loved every minute of it. Our only rule was that when one week was over we had to turn around and head home. Pretty simple rule, don’t you think? Now that, my friends, is a spontaneous vacation!
- Live Simple: Five Steps Toward A Simple Life....Installment Three
Installment three in the continuing series on Living Simple! Millions are saying goodbye to the old ways of living and adopting a new, simpler lifestyle.
RECONNECT WITH VALUES
If I had to choose the one area in our society that has changed the most since I was a kid, I would have to pick values. It is like a snowball that starts rolling down hill, and as it picks up more snow it gets larger and larger. That’s how it is with the loss of values, or so it seems to me. It starts out small, like not saying “thank you” when someone does something for you, or telling a little white lie, or cutting corners on a job you are doing for someone. Once that door is left open, it is darn hard to close it again.
There was a time in this country when a job well-done was in fact a job well-done. There was a time when courtesy was more than just a three-syllable word. There was a time when rudeness was not the norm and when helping your fellow man was something you just did rather than something that meant a tax deduction.
In fact, there was a time when family was the most important thing in life, and compassion and empathy did not have to be taught in school. Where has that gone, and more importantly, why has it gone? We appear to be a nation of 300 million ADHD sufferers, going hither and fro at warped speed, and pity the poor slob who gets in our way.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it better than I ever will:
“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.”
It does not have to be the way it is today, but we are the only ones who can change it.
My ebook about Lifestyle Choices
- Lifestyle Choices: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Lifestyle Choices: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
ARE YOU READY?
It can begin today! Whatever has happened in the past is just that, the past! Mistakes have been made, plans were changed, visions were bartered for comfort, but it can all change starting today.
Again, it all comes down to willingness! If you can honestly say you are happy working ten hour days to pay off debt, then for goodness sake, continue! If you can honestly say you are happy being exhausted at night, and unable to sleep because of stress, then more power to you and have a wonderful life.
However, if you are tired of being unhappy and harried, then the alternative is right before you. Reach out, embrace it, and get on board the Living Simple train. It really is a very smooth ride!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)