If your calendar is packed and your stress level is high, it’s time to slow down and reassess. There’s no sense simplifying if you take the rat race with you!
Entire books have been written on how to slow down, enjoy simple pleasures, and lead a simple lifestyle. These books exist because people often long for simplicity, but don’t know how to get out of the rat race long enough to learn it. The good news is, you can start small by implementing some simple tips and suggestions. Here are some ideas.
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Ten minutes is a doable time increment for even the busiest person, so it’s a good place to start.
Your ten minutes can be at any point during the day – before breakfast, partway through the morning, after lunch. The point is to be quiet and focused during those ten minutes, and to enjoy a simple pleasure for that time. Draw a picture, read a book, meditate, write a few lines in a journal. Make it a quiet ten minutes – no phone, no television, no computer.
Don’t try to make it an hour or half an hour because you will find it difficult to implement. (If you could set aside an hour, you’d already be doing it.) Just ten minutes.
If you do this every day, that’s an hour and ten minutes each week. Think of it as a small investment in your simpler future.
Many of us feel driven by what we think we must do; we live in a world of “have to’s” and “need to’s.”
But do we really? Sit down and evaluate things for a moment, and consider what you really need versus what you want.
While it might sound harsh, remember that the graveyard is full of irreplaceable people. If you have your calendar packed so tightly because of commitments that you can barely catch a breath, it’s time to sit back and examine what you are doing. Do they really need you?
Since moving to our new house in the village, I have been approached to join the worship team of my church (although considering my lack of singing ability, that might have been a joke), commit to volunteering with at least three different groups, sign my children up for multiple group activities and … Sound familiar?
As much as I want to jump up and say yes to every one of them, I know that four children, a large home and an online business already take up a large portion of my days, and I have no intention of living in the car.
These are all activities that promote things I love, and would allow me to be a benefit to others. But there is only one of me and only so many hours in the day, so every activity must be carefully examined to make sure that they don’t move us from manageable to busy.
Take the time to look at the commitments in your life.
Do they really need you there?
Really and truly need you?
If you said no, would they be able to continue? While they might express disappointment, chances are that they could carry on without you. The same goes for the activities that your children are in.
When does an opportunity become a burden? You can’t do everything.
This is an area where people often feel conflict.
Many of us admire people who can do without television and movies and computer games, and who get their pleasures from simple things like a walk in the forest. But although we may admire them, most of us don’t feel like we can do the same. Unless these simplicity-loving people you know where born and raised among the Plain People, it’s highly likely that they, too, grew up with all the distractions that we have.
There are plenty of reasons to eliminate, or drastically decrease, the amount of electronic entertainment in our lives.
One idea is to start with one simple replacement. Too often we find ourselves sitting in front of the screen out of habit, not even enjoying what we’re watching. If you find that happening, turn it off! Take a walk, spend some time colouring (I love colouring in my Inspire Bible), read a book or pull out a board game and play with the family.
Talk to Each Other
Prioritizing relationships is key to living simply.
This is one of the very important lessons that I’ve learned from my Mennonite friends.
Many people think that Mennonite communities reflect simplicity and promote relationships because of the rules that they follow. In other words, people believe that the rules precede the simplicity and relationships.
In fact, it’s the other way around. Because Mennonites value simplicity and close relationships, they build up a system of binding traditions that help the community reinforce their values. The simplicity and relationships precede the rules.
You don’t need the rules that hold a Mennonite community together in order to prioritize relationships, simplicity and a meaningful life.
Schedule a games night with your family. Have a quiet time in the evening without electronics. Set aside time to have coffee with a friend.