Finding The Road To Simplicity
Simplicity. Even the word itself has a pleasant, calm ring to it. Most of us, if we slow down long enough, can pretty easily look around and notice how we’ve complicated our lives. Sometimes, we complicate them so much that we have to take a step backwards, re-group, and begin again. Since we’ve all experienced that, it seems it would be better to evaluate and adjust our course before we reach the point of knowing it’s gone too far.
I think we all set out in life with the idea that life will be wonderful. It’s only human to fantasize about all the great things we’re going to be or have or do. We forget about the costs involved. We forget to ask ourselves, “When I get to that place in life, and really look at it, am I going to like what I see?”
Looking Inward and Looking Outward
One of the easiest to see examples of this is in the lives of celebrities. On the outside, they seem to have it all. An exciting life, wealth, and all the glamour we could ever want for. And yet there’s a constant flow of news articles about how they’ve gotten themselves into drugs and alcohol abuse. They divorce even more frequently than the rest of us. In all their “have everything-ness,” their lives betray an odd unhappiness.
I’ve noticed a couple exceptions to that, one of whom is Jim Carrey. I have a lot more admiration for the celebrities who seem just a little more real, a little more insightful than others. My notion of Carrey was confirmed recently when I came across this video, a compilation of snips of a commencement speech he delivered.
There seems to be a growing interest in simplifying life. A realization that what’s important maybe isn’t what we originally thought. Not just personally, but in business and even government there’s a growing awareness that over-complication leads to frustration and lower productivity in general. I just finished a new book, Think Simple by Ken Segall. In it, he examines the results of doing business, and life, in a far too complex way. He lays out clear steps to make changes that embrace simplicity. The results are amazing, with happier people who are much more highly productive.
If this resonates with you, if you’re feeling an urge to simplify a few things in your life, here’s my adaptation of some of the steps outlined in Think Simple:
- Wishing and hoping for anything won’t make it real. If you are really done with all the web of craziness you’ve woven, make a firm commitment to change it, and begin to take action.
- Examine your life to find the sources of stress. While some stress is actually a good thing, if the payoff is below the costs, it’s time to make some changes.
- Our life isn’t lived in isolation. There are others involved. Be sure to consider the perspective of the significant relationships in your life. And remember that it’s least stressful when you walk neither in front of nor behind others, but beside them.
- The cliché goes “if you want something done, do it yourself.” The close cousin to that is the person who micro-manages everything. Neither work very well. Empower and trust the others in your life to do their part. Yes, they’ll make mistakes sometimes. And they’ll learn, just as you did.
- Know how to aim. Aiming high is fine, but that doesn’t mean anything less than that mark is a failure, or not good enough. In defining and judging your results, make it easier to feel success and happiness. The direction of your travel, and progress, is far more important than the speed.
- Just keep swimming. Sometimes, you’ll have to swim upstream to build experience and stamina. At other times, allow yourself to enjoy the blissful and joyous ride downstream. Take time to smell all those roses you didn’t even notice on the way up.
Simplicity: Bliss is Waiting For You
It’s becoming ever more evident in our hectic, high-speed world that the constant pursuit of more, bigger, and better doesn’t necessarily bring satisfaction and happiness. There’s a wonderful freedom in shifting from doing life by having what you want, to wanting what you have. It’s not that difficult. It’s called simplicity.