Give Me the Simple Life
“How are you?”
One of the most basic questions. This is the first thing we ask when we run into someone. Or a close second, “How have you been?” Let me translate for all y’all in this part of the country, “How’ve y’all been doin’?”
These are common questions, nice questions, but usually are received with little more than this response. “Good. Busy.” What does that even mean? Really, that’s the best we got? It’s definitely my go-to answer but I have to ask myself, why? If busy is the best adjective to describe myself, it may be time for a change.
One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie Sabrina (The 90’s version. Love me some Harrison Ford.) Sabrina, a chauffer’s daughter, grew up with a wealthy family on the north shore of Long Island. As she matures she catches the attention of the two Larabee sons. The oldest son, Linus, is consumed with work and profits. Sabrina’s kindness and charm slowly break through his strong facade. In one scene, as they were visiting one of the Larabee homes in Martha’s Vineyard, Sabrina gently tells him, “More isn’t always better, Linus. Sometimes it’s just more.”
Brilliant. Sometimes it’s just more.
Most Americans run on caffeine and crazy! Somewhere along the way we decided having crowded schedules and packed houses was a good thing. And as it turns out, busyness for the sake of busyness is actually making us (and keeping us) sick and tired.
We need to take a serious look at our spaces and schedules. More for the sake of more isn’t doing anybody any good. Crafting a little breathing room will go a long way for our health. With this in mind, let’s look at a few practical ways to enjoy wellness through the art of simplicity.
Acknowledge the problem. Before we can cut anything out, we must recognize that something needs to be cut. Is a crazy schedule working for you? Do you enjoy being stressed? The automatic response is no. But actions speak louder than words, and our actions are an overwhelming yes. There are certainly seasons that are busier than others but as a whole, a jam packed schedule does not lead to wellness. Too often people are doing a lot of things but failing to do any of them well. If “busy” is the best word to describe your life, you may need to admit there is a problem.
Simplify for a reason. This goes back to your “why” that we discussed last week. Many opportunities to tell people about Jesus, help a friend in need, or practice hospitality arise unexpectedly. When there is margin in our lives, we have the capacity to act when these occasions present themselves. More than that, we can look for and welcome them. Living a life of simplicity goes beyond having free nights at home. Margin is the result of keeping first things first.
Declutter your mental space. We complicate life by having endless thoughts of what we “need” to do. Remembering everything in this fast-paced world is challenging! Every evening before you go to bed, make a list of priorities for the following day. Putting thoughts on paper, whether through journaling or list-making, can help reduce stress. Think about it. Write about it. And enjoy more mental space to be present in the moment.
Declutter your physical space. Do we really need all this stuff? Choose 1 room at a time or 1 cabinet at a time and begin to clean out your house or office. If you have a hard time letting go, make a space in the garage to store those items for a couple of weeks. Chances are, you will not miss them and can happily load up the car for a trip to Good Will. Purging the extra junk helps clear the mind and is refreshing to the soul. And don’t tell me your schedule is full. We just talked about that. 🙂
Practice the discipline of “no.” Saying no often causes people to “feel bad.” But remember this. Every time you say no to something you are saying yes to something else. Once you have clearly defined goals, knowing what to say no to becomes much easier. Say no more so you can say yes to what is most important.
A simpler life can be your reality. And if you don’t enjoy it, caffeine and crazy will always be waiting.