07 Dec Simplify
I’ve been trying to simplify my life for years. I adore simplicity. Sometimes I am able to live that way but mostly its an ideal I want to attain. But lately I have been feeling overwhelmed with work, home life, and an overall life led by constant stimulation. Whether I’m problem solving at work, being a parent, escaping on my phone or even reading a book, I am usually filling every moment with input. I’m exhausted and finding that my thinking is slower and less clear and it’s becoming harder to make decisions which is usually my strength. My wife is also feeling the stress of four kids and a life that feels out of control to both of us. So we are committing to some changes we hope will make a difference.
I’ve read a lot of Leo Babauta’s stuff over at his blog Zen Habits, and recently found some other blogs that will assist my wife and I in some household changes for us and our kids. We were listening to a podcast by a woman in Australia called Slow Your Home. She and her husband had lots of good things to say. The slow movement isn’t new (I remember reading a book over 5 years ago called In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore) but our busy, chaotic and over-digitized lives are calling for some sort of intervention. I feel a deeper sense for the analog of being in the present moment connected to what it’s like to live right here and now. In some ways I hate that I’m saying that cause I hate the overuse of anything and “being present” is certainly over-used. But I do feel the need for being less connected and more in the moment.
Leo’s blog Zen Habits has helped me understand the process of change even better than I’ve known it as a therapist. Start small. Start small with a new habit you add. Don’t try to change everything at once and don’t try to transform by tomorrow. It almost always fails. Build habits slowly, cause that’s how the negative ones were built. I envy Leo’s journey and success into a life of simplicity. He has 6 kids and has made many significant changes over time with a focus on living with less, practicing mindfulness, and living essentially.
I’ve attempted to make so many changes like this in my life and I usually write about them in a blog entry and they last a week or so. Unless I make any actual habit changes this will probably be the same. I hope not.
So far I have committed to:
1. Bagging up a bunch of our things to see what we NEED to live with. Pack up a bunch of toys, books, clothes, knick knacks, etc. After several moves and a recent decluttering we aren’t doing bad, but there’s still too much shit lying around.
2. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account.
3. I’ve taken off all the social media apps off my phone.
4. I’m going to try and not watch TV at night, only reading and writing and listening to music.
5. I want to practice mindfulness the best I can, focusing more on being mindful in moments instead of 20 minute sessions of mindfulness. Maybe I’ll get there at some point.
6. I really want to do yoga but it’s not the same at home so need to work it into the budget.
Number 6 isn’t really a commitment I guess, just something I want to do that I know will help. I also need to exercise more in general. Walking, running, pushups, whatever. Not there yet.
The reflex to grab my phone and flip through Facebook was strong today. I deactivated my account only yesterday. The urge to fill the moment is powerful. My hope is it dissipates over time and I can actually be present and not just “try” to be present. I’m trying to not even really use my phone. If its in my pocket I tend to feel the pull to look at it. It starts to become annoying when you really reflect on it.
I’m also hoping all of this allows my system to feel less overloaded. I’m easily irritated at home and my kids see me angry way too often. I need to change this. We are constantly overwhelmed with four kids that I’m sure they sometimes feel as though they are a burden on us — cause sometimes that’s actually what it feels like to us too. I don’t want them feeling that way and I don’t want to feel that way. So I have to free up space for downtime and relaxation and exercise and more things analog that help me take better care of myself. I need to simplify. I will keep working toward simplifying my life in a variety of ways.
Here’s to making it happen.