We’ve all heard the mnemonic KISS, Keep It Simple, Stupid. We may laugh when we hear it, but I think that is perhaps the best way to approach nearly every aspect of our day, our relationships, and our lives in general. I’m sure many people would say that there is plenty of information out there about how to simplify your life, and I think that most of us would really like to do just that. But it’s often much harder to put into practice than it is to dream about how calm and relaxed we would be. We know that constant stress is bad for us, but sometimes it seems like it’s an unavoidable element of modern life.
There are certain aspects of our lives that we will have very little control over, like a domineering boss or co-worker, random stressful incidents injected into our day without warning, or a difficult family member. While we often cannot remove these sources of stress, we can mitigate their negative effects on us by not dwelling on them, but rather taking control over those things that we CAN change. There are so many little ways that we can retrain ourselves to “stop and smell the roses”.
One of the easiest ways to start doing this is to watch how children approach their world. Before they get old enough for us stodgy adults to teach them to “grow up”, they are naturally adept at just simply enjoying the world around them. They can derive pleasure from the simplest of things: a game of tag, the beauty of nature, the joy of holding hands with a friend, jumping over a puddle just to see if they can. Why do we forget how to do this? Why do we squelch these attitudes in our children as they get older? I think the biggest reason is that we have allowed ourselves to become far too busy to take the time to live in the moment with them.
Now, I’m not talking to the person who is working an 80 hour work week (I may address that later), but I’m addressing those people who work or go to school and then have so many extracurricular events on their calendars that they never allow themselves to just BE. We have gotten to the point where we feel like we have to be constantly busy, and we even feel guilty when we take a moment to slow down our pace, sit down and read a book, or enjoy a sunset. Having been a caregiver in various capacities (my own nuclear family and several elderly family members), I have slowly come to realize that this is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves.
If we truly want to give our best to care for others, we must first learn to care for ourselves. I’m not advocating that we become hedonistic, self-centered creatures, nor am I suggesting that we avoid ALL activities, but we really aren’t capable of doing anything to the best of our abilities if we allow our physical, mental, and spiritual health to suffer by ignoring our own needs. Have I learned this lesson completely? Not even close. I’m one of those people who really doesn’t feel a purpose unless I have someone who “needs” me, but I AM learning that I need to nurture myself first, so that I have something to give.
I would like this blog to be not a monologue, but a dialogue. I want to throw some ideas out there, and see what you all have to add. I’d like to share the things that have worked for me, and maybe even some of the things I’ve tried that haven’t worked so well. I may occasionally rant or ramble, but I will try to keep that to a minimum, as that would kind of be getting away from the KISS principle. 😀 I am a relatively informal kind of person, which is perhaps why I’m drawn to the beauty of simplicity.
I’d like to discuss simple ways to:
- Nourish Your Body
- Enrich Your Mind
- Uplift Your Spirit
- Play Like a Child
- Save Money
- Nurture Relationships
I’ll also tell you right off the bat, if you don’t already know me, that I am a Christian. There will be posts related to the spiritual aspects of life, but I have no intention of proselytizing. Like I said, I want this to be a dialogue, not someone trying to stuff their beliefs down someone else’s throat. And although I typically avoid political discussions like the plague, I may occasionally hit on a topic that has political elements. That being said, I welcome your comments, even if they contradict what I have said (on any topic, not just religion or politics), as long as they remain respectful. I think that we have forgotten the true meaning of tolerance, which includes respectfully disagreeing with someone, but I think that is for another post.
I encourage you to share how you have successfully managed to simplify your life, or even just bring up other areas that you struggle with. If you have any other sites or blogs that you’ve found helpful, feel free to share them here. If there’s a topic you’d like to see me put out there for discussion, let me know!
But for now I’ll leave you with this: try to find at least one thing today that really makes you smile, and when you hit that inevitable bump in the road, reflect on that thing.