A guest post by Anastasiya Goers from Balance in Me
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Why are you looking for simplicity in life? Are you doing it to have more time during your day? Are you doing it to have more room in your house? Perhaps the reason why most of us are looking for simplicity is because they need some inner peace and contentment. All of your external organizational efforts will be useless if you cannot simplify your inner world: your mind, your emotions, your thoughts.
Just think of it, a well-organized and minimalistic home won’t bring you any satisfaction if you are troubled with negative or unhappy thoughts. A perfect schedule which has enough room for all your activities will be useless if you are reliving over and over old painful memories. External ways of simplifying life have no meaning at all if you cannot find your balance and inner simplicity.
Actually we will never be able to grasp the concept of “living with less” if we neglect our inner selves. Without inner simplicity we will be left wanting more to fill up our inner emptiness.
In fact, the more you simplify your life externally the more time you will have to deal with “your inner demons.” Memories of the past … restless thoughts … strong emotions … doubts … This thought process can become suffocating over time if you do not find your inner strength and peace.
1. Become aware
Before you can find your inner simplicity you need to get to know yourself. There are so many things that we do on autopilot that often we have no logical reason to do them. Like buying a new gadget that you saw at the store or taking on another social commitment. Start questioning yourself “Why am I doing it? Why do I want it?’ Soon you will notice that many desires that you have are not tempting anymore.
Awareness comes with practice and the best way of practicing it is through meditation. Choose your style of meditation and practice it on a daily basis. Soon you will notice that moments of awareness will come to you more frequently throughout your day.
2. Allow yourself to be bored
Today we have completely mastered the art of conquering boredom. We jam-pack our schedule, call our friends, turn on the TV, surf the web or hang out on the social media websites, weed the yard, and the list goes on. By cramming so much stuff in our schedule we limit our personal time, the time that we can spend getting to know ourselves, becoming aware and dealing with our deep issues. It is okay to have 15-30 minutes during the day when you have absolutely nothing to do. Let yourself be still, connect with nature around you, pray … find your inner peace.
A lot of times we re-live certain painful moments of our lives simply because we cannot forgive. The feelings of anger, deep sorrow, self-pity, despair, and helplessness start eating us from the inside out. No matter how painful your memory is – it is already in the past and you cannot change it. Think about it and forgive. Forgive another person and forgive yourself. It will be an act of the most sincere inner generosity and kindness that will finally set you free.
4. Resign as general manager of the universe
We are not responsible for everyone in this world. In fact, a lot of times we even have no control over our own lives. I believe that there is something much greater ruling this world, something that cannot be described in words and cannot be fully understood by us, regular people. I believe in something much greater than me and it helps me to get over many things in my life. What do you believe in?
5. Practice positive realism
Positive realism is the approach that I employ in life. There is a certain order of things: birth, death and everything in between. With positive realism you can see exactly how things work in life and find the reason why they do. Be positive about the outcomes but do not forget to prepare if something goes wrong.
6. Write it down
Sometimes the best place for all your thoughts is on a piece of paper. Why do you have to clutter your mind with all the ideas, memories, thoughts that are constantly tripping one over another? Writing them down will help you clear some room in your head and find the best solutions for the problems you are facing. Journaling is like organizing your home: instead of having your things lying all over the place you find a perfect place for each of them, you also find things that you do not need and can easily throw away (like silly worries and doubts that get you nowhere.)
7. Organize your routines
There are certain routines that we do during the day no matter how we feel and what we plan. We take showers, eat, brush our teeth, get ready for work, get homework done or help our kids with that homework etc. These routines can be huge stressors if they are not organized.
Spend some time reassessing your routines. What do you do every day? How can this routine be simplified? Is there something that you can eliminate (like watching TV)?
Maybe you can get your breakfast ready the night before to have more time for prayer and meditation when you wake up. You can make it a habit to unwind for 15-30 minutes every day when you get home from work by playing with your kids or just enjoying the silence.
Remember that new habits take at least 28 days to form. Don’t push too hard and make one baby step at a time. After all, inner simplicity is not about rushing through life or doing something fast. It is about living right now and enjoying the life that you have.
Anastasiya is the author behind the BalanceInMe blog – a place for people interested in practical life balance strategies. She is passionate about helping people find their balance in different areas of life: work, family, health, lifestyle, spirituality and others. She also a runs virtual Life Balance Retreats for people interested in making lasting changes in their lives.