Going back to a simpler life is not a step backward – Yvon Chouinard
Emily Sandalow, a training consultant with ComPsych Corporation, provided suggestions on Living Simply: Simplify Your Life.
“If you want to live simply, the first thing you need to do is identify four or five items or activities that are important to you.” Emily encouraged attendees to write down those activities and then include the value they place on each of the activities.
For some, she said, family, travel, work, pets, health and exercise are what’s most important. The value ranges from these “individuals make me happy” and “the time spent doing these activities brings me pleasure” to,” these activities add excitement to my life.”
She then asked the attendees if they spend enough time with these activities. Many said, “no” to which Emily asked, “what gets in the way?”
Time, money and fatigue were some of the answers. Emily added that consumerism also prevents us from doing the things we value.
“Advertising gets us to think that we need to acquire things to obtain acceptance, love and power,” she said. For some, chasing that purchase or shopping leads to a “high.” For others, buying too much “stuff” leads to clutter and distraction while, for others, Emily said, it can mean financial distress.
Our digital culture has also added another layer of busyness to our life.
“With our smartphones, the world is at our fingertips, but this can be overloading,” she said, adding that we have access to a lot of information, but it’s not enhancing our critical thinking skills. “Too many choices can lead to less satisfaction.”
Social media has also left us feeling that if we aren’t doing it, we are missing out on something. Some use social media as a way to connect with others, while others use it as a way to compare their lives with others. Recent studies, Emily said, have shown that these comparisons lead to anxiety and depression.
Emily suggests giving up Facebook or other social media for a week or two and see how your life is without it.
Regarding your phone, she suggested that if you find you are spending more time on your phone than talking to “real people face-to-face” you may be using your phone to avoid talking with others or to avoid being bored. It might be time, she said, to try a technology-free weekend. You might also consider setting aside time each day to not use your phone.
To live simply, Emily suggests clearing away all of the non-essentials, identifying the needs versus wants, and then focusing on your priorities. Some find that a simple life gives them freedom. She said, “Instead of trying to live up to a standard that someone else sets for us, you live the life from the goals that make you happy.”
Finally, Emily suggests people should be mindful of the day’s simple pleasures. Listen to the sounds of birds chirping, watch the sun set, enjoy a cup of coffee or the quiet of the morning. According to Emily, “There’s always something that brings comfort and joy.”