It sometimes feels like everyone I know is busy, friends and family are all busy with work, kids, meetings, and all the preoccupations of life. One thing I’ve noticed is that being busy and being unhappy, more often than not, go hand in hand. We are told (at the very least it’s implied) that in order to survive in this fast-paced world you have to keep up. But what if instead of a high-speed lifestyle you could use simplicity as a way to happiness?
I’ve found that simplifying things means I can enjoy life more. Simplifying for me doesn’t mean abandoning all the luxuries of life, rather eliminating the excesses. In the Vedic tradition (think yoga) there’s a practice called pratyahara, which is described as a process of directing your senses inward.
The practice of pratyahara from the practical standpoint is about simplifying and savoring everything in life. As the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” so too is the pleasure of food heightened by fasting.
This principle was understood by the yogi’s and teachers who knew that abstinence heightened pleasure but they also understood that excesses will to lead to trouble. And whether the indulgent behavior is large or small, it always means that life will be less enjoyable. In other words, yes, there is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”
If you believe that simplicity could be the key to your happiness, then what can you do to simplify your life? Here are some ideas from Henrik Edberg on how to do just that…
Use a minimalistic workspace. My work space is just a laptop on a small black desk made out of wood. I use a comfy chair and there is room for my glass of water beside the computer. That’s it. There are no distractions here. This makes it easier to write and to keep a clear mind.
Cook more food than you’ll eat. We usually make 4-6 servings of what we are about to eat. This cuts down on time that you spend on cooking and you’ll have to do less washing up in general. Plus, you’ll have lunch for the day after. And sometimes a portion or two to put in the freezer. And that really comes in handy on those evenings when you don’t feel like cooking.
Write shorter emails. I tend to write emails containing only a few sentences, usually between one and five. In some cases I write more of course. But keeping this guideline in mind cuts down on the time and energy is spend on processing emails.
Be 10 or 5 minutes early for meetings and appointments. This will help you to make your time of travel into a sort of break and a time of relaxation. Instead of it being another thing that ramps up the stress. And you will not be late.
Spend only 20% of your time on dwelling on a problem. And 80% of your time focusing on a solution. Instead of the other way around. It is not always easy to do but keeping this thought in mind makes it easier to not fall into the trap of feeling like a victim or going down a spiral of perceived powerlessness.
Stop trying to do things perfectly. Go for good enough instead and when you are there you are done. Get things all the way to done this way and then move on to the next thing. Setting this more human bar for yourself not only leads to more things actually being finished but also helps with keeping your self-esteem on a healthy level. Perfectionism makes it pretty impossible to find or maintain high self-esteem. Continue reading here…
No matter what activity that you engage in that has the potential to make you happy, it also has a like potential to make you unhappy. When you get too much of a good thing, no matter how good it is, you can still end up unhappy.
Adding more of anything also adds another layer of complexity to whatever you’re doing. When things become more complex stress is added to the process, which is true whether you’re talking about a job or a biological system, like your body.
Cutting back or cutting down – simplifying your life will make you happier; it will awaken your creativity, increase your energy and boost your successes in life.
Less can be more and simplicity as a way to happiness is the path of less resistance.