It is so very easy to get caught up in the outside demands in our lives and forget about the simple “basic” things that can provide happiness and contentment if we choose to prioritize them. We can get so busy and frantic in our every day living that many people now long to get back to the basics and simplify your life, but they don’t have a clue where to start. It doesn’t help that our obsession with a fast track life and material things also means we have to keep up that harried pace to pay the rent and pay for all our stuff. Few can handle just losing everything they have worked years to accumulate. This is exactly why there have been so many self help books written about this topic. We don’t seem to know how to back track and start over without feeling as though we have failed somehow. Below are a few empowering steps you can take to get back to the basics and begin enjoying the simpler things in life once again.
1. Give yourself a “time out.” While you may find that it is difficult to find an hour for yourself during the day, it’s not hard to find 15 minutes. Whether you do it in the morning, lunchtime or before bed, close the door and sit down for just 15 minutes. Write in a journal, drink tea on your porch, take a bath, sit outside on a picnic blanket, light a candle and meditate, read a self help book or a daily devotional… whatever it is, do it during this sacred 15 minute period.
This time is for you to use for yourself for your emotional betterment. A book I read recently that you may find helpful is Ancient Secrets of the Goddesses. At times it was a bit new agey and “out there” for me but I liked how each chapter addressed a different goddess and a different aspect of ourselves that we may need to cultivate or improve… delegation, sensitivity, independence, joy, passion, balance, self love, etc. It is the perfect type of book to grab if you care to read during this 15 minute time out.
2. Figure out what your life necessities are. The problem that most of us have is that we have over-extended ourselves and therefore, have no time for anything else. So, if you want to get back to the basics, you first have to determine what the necessities are in your life. In other words, what are the “must have’s” and the “must do’s”? If it’s not a must have or a must do, then it’s not a necessity.
It may be tough to eliminate certain activities from your life, but when you are able to clear a little time in your schedule by getting rid of the not-so-important things in your life, then you’ll find that it was worth it. You don’t have to stop with you either – if your kids are involved in 10 different activities, then it’s time they choose which ones (say 2 or 3) are most important and stop the others.
3. Change your entertainment choices. While it can be very nice to have television, internet, and video games, these things take away a lot of time from our lives. Few of us will look back on TV or video game time as life enhancing in any way so maybe we need to change things up. You probably know people who have managed to cut out the above distractions and you admire them for it. However, at the same time, we aren’t confident that we can do the exact same thing. We make excuses. The good news is that we can. Sit down and think about the things you do for entertainment and then think of other activities that you enjoy doing (walking in the park, reading a book, hiking, volunteering, writing, etc.) and make time to do more of those things. Gradually cut out the other activities from your life. If you can’t go cold turkey on old habits keep pushing them back and making the slot of available time for them smaller and smaller until giving them up no longer seems like a big issue.
4. Talk with family and friends. Make a point to prioritize the relationships you have in your life and spend more time with those you love if that is your desire. If you are spending too much time on family obligations and finding you do not have enough time for yourself, talk to them about that as well. Connect with others who have gotten away from the “rat race” and are enjoying a simpler lifestyle. This will help you stay motivated and give you new ideas for things you can do to slow down, in addition to building friendships.
5. Make a date with yourself. It can be feel selfish to ask for time for yourself and your own interests but taking care of yourself is not selfish. Think of it as time spent refilling your gas tank. If you expect to have enough fuel operate efficiently and be a good mother, lover, and partner then you need that time to refill your tank. My husband and I have arranged our schedule to make sure we each get this time each and every week. We both have ample time to go to the gym, catch a movie, get a massage, spend a few hours strolling thrift stores, hitting some balls at the golf range, or even sleeping in if we so choose. This prevents either of us from getting overwhelmed or feeling as though we are doing “more” than the other partner.
As with many things in life the idea of simplifying can seem unattainable but when you break it down into steps, it suddenly becomes more manageable. It is rather funny when you think about it that we need this help to slow down, live with greater purpose, and find joy in the small things… but we often do. How have you managed to scale down and simplify in your life? Has it made you happier?