This is a collaborative post by Ellie Jo with tips on living a happier life.
If you’re anything like the majority of people, it is all but certain that – at least from time to time – you feel as though you are overwhelmed by the complexity of your everyday life, with all sorts of things to consider and focus on, and nowhere near enough time, energy, and attention to go around.
Whereas life today features all sorts of luxuries and positive innovations that weren’t present in the past, those positive things come hand-in-hand with an increased level of everyday complexity, for the vast majority of people, to an extent that is historically unprecedented.
Now, news headlines from around the world are always at your fingertips, you have an unlimited array of choices to contemplate when it comes to your consumer purchases, the exercise routine you’re going to take up, your diet, and any number of other things.
In addition to all of that, you are likely constantly contactable via email and text, at just about all times of the day and night.
In the face of all of this, it can be difficult to take a step back and feel as though you have an opportunity to catch your breath, to say the very least.
It’s for this reason that there’s been a big movement in recent times for simplicity, and a drive to manage some of that excessive complexity, in one way or another.
So, what does it actually mean to seek out more simplicity in your everyday life, for the sake of your wellbeing? Here are a few thoughts.
Stepping back from the idea that you need to do everything solo
One of the best and most reliable ways of simplifying your life, is to let go of the belief – held by many ambitious and entrepreneurial types, in particular – that you need to do everything solo.
Instead, become willing to reach out to experts, professionals, and trusted loved ones, whenever you are looking for a bit of insight, or striving to resolve a particular issue that has been weighing on you for a while.
That might mean contacting State Farm insurance agent, or it could mean getting in touch with a professionally certified and regulated dietician in order to help you sort out your nutrition, as opposed to attempting to filter through the unlimited and often conflicting information to be found online, on the topic.
In a professional setting, this form of simplification can involve delegating more tasks, and potentially hiring additional team members if you’re a business owner, to ensure that you have less to juggle an everyday basis.
Ultimately, it’s important to realize and remember that no one is capable of mastering absolutely everything. At some point, getting other people involved can be one of the best and most effective solutions out there for simplifying your life.
Realizing that drains on your energy and attention can severely diminish your quality of life
A major part of successfully simplifying your life is understanding first and foremost that drains on your energy and attention can be extremely detrimental to you on a personal level.
One of the big reasons why people often don’t take proactive steps to simplify their lives in the way they should, is that they weave personal narratives for themselves along the lines of “taking on this extra bit of responsibility or complexity is no problem, because it just means I need to be a bit more organized and…”
In reality, however, if you are constantly cluttering up your life with extra work, extra chores, extra decisions, and extra steps on the way to achieving your goals, you will feel far more exhausted, far more frustrated, and far more distracted than you otherwise would. This, in turn, will cause you to to be significantly less effective in achieving your goals and will mean that you will almost certainly have a much less positive and enjoyable time, along the way.
Realize that your energy and attention are not infinite resources that you can afford to throw around with reckless abandon. Instead, they have to be parcelled out sparingly, or else the net effect is bound to be unpleasant.
Reducing the number of decisions you have to make an everyday basis
An overabundance of options is one of the most common and detrimental ways in which excess complexity can creep into your life, and cause you a wide variety of issues.
In his book, “The Paradox of Choice,” the psychologist Barry Schwartz looks at startling evidence that, contrary to popular belief, “more choice” is not always better. In fact, if you have an overabundance of choices and therefore need to make a lot of decisions, psychological defense mechanisms actually kick in that make you far more likely to remain passive altogether and to feel totally stressed even if you do end up making a decision that eventually satisfies you.
For this reason, a major part of simplifying your everyday life is about finding ways to reduce the number of decisions you have to make on an everyday basis.
You could do this by, for example, batch cooking all of your meals for the next few days, a couple of times a week. Or by paring down your wardrobe so that getting dressed each day is a more automatic process.
Even if a specific subject feels generally trivial, an excess of decisions in your everyday life will certainly cause you to feel chronically stressed and overwhelmed and will make you less effective at whatever it is you’re doing.
Understand the value of using pre-established systems, rather than always trying to “reinvent the wheel”
In many areas of life, people are frequently encouraged to adopt an approach of essentially “reinventing the wheel.”
This is often presented as being “original,” “enterprising,” “creative,” and so on – but, in many cases, the net effect is simply that you end up stressing yourself out, becoming confused and disheartened, and being less effective to boot.
One example of where this issue can arise is with regards to exercise routines. It might seem that it’s a great idea to create your own totally personalized fitness routine, that best suits your personal interests and circumstances. And this may be true, depending on your particular level of experience and insight.
In many cases, however, this desire to personalize workout routines causes a lot of inconsistency and confusion and leads to people jumping back and forth between different routines perpetually, while making very little progress. Ultimately, it will often be a much better idea just to go for a pre-established workout routine, and to stick with it for a period of time.
The same principle applies to many different things in life. The world is full of pre-established systems that are very effective at generating particular outcomes. Don’t be afraid to use systems that are already there, instead of trying to personally reinvent everything in a way that seems “just right” for you.
Choosing a few worthwhile things to focus most of your attention on, at any given time – rather than trying to do everything at once
If you are an ambitious person, with all sorts of big and enthusiastic goals for what you want to achieve in life, there’s a good chance that you will end up biting off a bit more than you can chew on a regular basis, with regards to the number of goals you’re simultaneously trying to pursue.
As always, though, it’s important to remember – once again – that your time, energy levels, and attention are limited. If you try to do too much at one time, you will simply achieve just about nothing in any one area.
A far better and simpler approach is to choose only a small handful of worthwhile things to focus most of your attention at any given time, and to leave the rest for later.