We find it difficult to have a simple life because busyness is how we convince ourselves that we are productive.
We love to check things off our to-do list. From the moment we get off our beds, we obsessively switch from task to task — we might be writing an important presentation while simultaneously checking news updates and texting a friend.
We think we are being super-productive by making our day complex when in fact, we are unnecessarily putting ourselves on the verge of a breakdown. The simple truth is this: having a simple or a complex life lies in our hands, not in how much we need to get done.
It lies in how we start our day — the moment we get up from bed and in all the decisions we make after that. If you set your priorities right and ruthlessly cut out the needless things from your life, there’s no doubt you’ll have more clarity throughout your day.
Here are four things you can give up today to simplify your life.
1. Automated mornings
A few years back, I would have hit the snooze button not less than four times before waking up. Mindless texting and checking social updates makes me take up another two hours to get ready for class.
The first mistake we make in having a simplified day is starting off our day distracted and disoriented.
When we don’t have anything to do, we do whatever we feel like doing — which will most likely include shallow or addictive tasks like checking our social media notifications.
On the other hand, when you have a morning routine, it becomes easy for you to start your day on the right foot. With better control of your morning schedule, you can set a calm and positive tone for the day, right from when you wake up.
- First, establish a consistent wake-up time that makes it easier for you to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning — once your body gets adjusted to the routine
- Write a few important things you’ll like to get done in the morning so that you know exactly where to direct your attention.
- Layout needed materials on sight. If you want to go for a run, put your sneakers and shorts where you can see them. If you have a book you want to read by morning, lay it out on the table.
- Engage with something informative or uplifting like a podcast, ted talk, or motivational video. This sets your mind on the right track.
You always have the choice to choose the best activities that can make you start your day with clarity and enthusiasm, make use of that choice. As the American novelist, Lemony Snicket wrote in The Blank Book (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
“Morning is an important time of day because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”
Interesting: 6 Vital Lessons People Learn Too Late In Life
2. Obsessing about current events
In a study led by Attila Szabo Ph.D., it was discovered that a random television newscast triggers increased negative emotions manifested in a heightened state of anxiety and total mood disturbance.
In another study, it was also found that many people who view traumatic events (terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters) over and over again on television can develop trauma-related symptoms, even though they had no direct experience of the catastrophe.
We all feel a certain pressure to want to know all that is going on. The media in its subtle ways coerces us into feeling we need to know everything right now!
But ultimately, we can’t deny that most of these stories are violent, dispiriting, and sad. Therefore, if you want to have simpler, calmer, and more peaceful days, it will be wise to control how much news you expose yourself to (or let go of them totally).
Five or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the last 30 days is considered heavy drinking by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
For the majority of men and some women, it only feels deserving to get some gratification by taking in a few bottles of alcohol after a long day.
But as most people have experienced, few can easily turn to many, as we can easily get addicted to the feeling of excitement we get from it.
Here’s the thing:
If you drink more than the body can process, you begin to feel intoxicated as the alcohol level builds up in the bloodstream and is distributed throughout your body. This distribution can affect the body’s nerve endings and slow down brain function.
And it doesn’t end there. Studies also reveal that alcohol consumption, particularly heavy drinking, is an important risk factor for many health-related problems like cancer, diabetes, inhibition of bone production, and heart problems among others.
In just within 20 minutes of consumption, alcohol can produce urine flow as a result of urinary fluid losses, this causes the concentration of electrolytes in blood serum to increase, compromising kidney function, explained another research.
A simple life is by definition one that is void of complications. Though we intend to cool off, the heavy consumption of alcohol only makes our lives more complicated in the long run.
Hence, instead of running off to take in more toxins after a hard day, it will be wiser to take a moment for yourself:
- Disconnect from work and the internet and take a warm or cold shower.
- Spend some time outside with nature and breath in the fresh air.
- Listen to the kind of music you love. Read a book.
- Spend time with your loved ones. Interaction with those you care about is one of the best ways to lift your spirit.
- Release those endorphins with some exercises.
We are creatures of habit, if you get used to using alcohol as a response to stress, you might set yourself up for a life of health complications and even addiction. Adopting better coping habits, on the other hand, will benefit you for life.
4. The poverty of the mind
There’s a beautiful quote by the stoic Seneca that reads: “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
Of course, it will be great to be famous, wealthy, and powerful. But it will be much better to learn to be happy and content with what we have while we work towards better. This doesn’t mean you’ve opted for a life of mediocrity. It’s just your way of setting your priorities right.
Many times in the hustle of trying to have the best life, we end up ignoring the great things we have going for us. Our families, dear friends, and the beautiful sunrise on a Saturday morning mean nothing to us — all that matters becomes getting ahead.
We become so attached to winning that our joy and sanity depend on it. When things go well, we only brace ourselves and increase our efforts. When things go wrong on the other hand, chaos sets in, and we lose ourselves — either way, setting high expectations will only trap us.
Set modest expectations and recognize the truly important things that a good life is built upon — love, health, family, and purpose. All of which are available to you irrespective of your financial or professional status. After all, life is far too short to permit ourselves to be joyful only when we hit a big achievement.
“The greatest wealth,” Seneca wrote, “is a poverty of desires.”
There’s no doubt that we all want to have great lives. We want flashy cars in our garage, nice clothes, and jewelry in our closet, and have the hottest spouses.
We want to write bestsellers and articles that go viral. But in our quest, we usually fail to take time out for ourselves.
Full of ambition, we anxiously go through our day, mindlessly drifting between paper works, texting, and emails.
The stress and anxiety we experience on a complex day simply are our minds’ enraged pleas not to be exhaustingly overstimulated. Take it easy. One step at a time. After all, we are more likely to succeed in a joyful and balanced state. To recap:
- Establish a routine for your morning. If you start your day confused and disoriented, everything is likely to go downhill.
- Control how much you read and watch the news. The media thrives more when the news is negative, we on the other hand don’t.
- Learn to use mindful practices to cool off instead of stimulants.
- Set modest expectations for your life. Remember happiness and contentment isn’t about how much you have, but how much you need.