Is the world overloading us, or do we do it to ourselves, wonders Davina Greene.
Simplicity: if only it were so...simple. It seems a bit illogical, doesn’t it, that simplicity should be a difficult thing to achieve? But it can be. So, what on earth do we do?
To break it down, I encourage people to examine six angles:
1. Simplicity of Possession
Do you accumulate ‘stuff’, are you programmed to buy? If you de-cluttered, how quickly would new clutter appear? Might your bank balance look a bit healthier if you curbed current ‘acquisition’ habits? Consider what ‘owning things’ means to you; perhaps you’ll find a path to a solution in doing so.
2. Simplicity of Environment
Does everything you own have a ‘home’ or are you on an endless hunt for the things that you need? Does your workspace inspire focus or distraction? We go on holidays and we mainly take photos of the biggest, most glorious and uncluttered environments - sunrises, sunsets, mountains, oceans and lakes. Simplicity at its finest. How do we let the everyday become so different?
3. Simplicity of Focus
‘Mindfulness’ has pretty much been the word of the decade, and it’s a good thing – to simply notice. But you can’t notice things in chaos. Are you spreading yourself too thinly across people, life areas, or tasks? Laying out a simple personal strategy can help resolve this. On a practical level, do you get thoughts and appointments out of your head by recording them elsewhere? Consider if you prioritise or drift. Consider, also, if you’ve let technology become too much of an interrupter of your life, reacting to every beep and every ringtone, forgetting that voicemail or ‘later’ even exist.
4. Simplicity of Decision
Remember that we can use our organisation skills to make decisions in advance. Food is a key example – do you create stress by standing, confused, in the supermarket rather than devising a couple of enjoyable weekly plans to rotate? We’re all familiar with the concept of the ‘capsule wardrobe’ – have you got one? We know Barack Obama wore only blue or grey suits. The message? Avoid ‘decision fatigue’ by minimising or removing trivial choices.
5. Simplicity of Engagement
Are you really engaging with people, or fiddling on your phone? Are you a straight talker, or do you create extra work by ‘dancing around’ certain topics and people that would be better confronted? Do you have high friend volume, but low friend quality, and find it unsatisfying? Many of us endlessly try to please people – an impossible goal. At times, we jump in and try to fix peoples’ problems, creating work for ourselves that isn’t even wanted by the person in question – let people be adults, and simplify your role back to ‘listener’.
6. Simplicity of Self
The modern world implies that we should be aiming to convey an image of, for example, prestige, wealth, or vast friendship groupings as signs of success, which means that we often end up conveying a somewhat false identity. How much of an act are you putting on right now? Is the inauthenticity exhausting? What can you do about that?
Why care about this? For your health! And because your humanity is significantly affected by complexity when you are too distracted to truly connect. Your perspective is hindered when you can’t see the wood for the trees. Your resilience is impacted when Time Doing/Worrying/Rushing far outweights Time Being. You cannot take responsibility for anything if you are drowning. And your communication is going to suffer if your mind is endlessly elsewhere.
So yes, we must take responsibility for creating at least some of our own overload. If you find yourself afraid of simplicity, of noticing, ask yourself why. Be careful of masking something stressful by surrounding yourself in trivialities.
Simplicity implies freedom. Life can throw lots of things at you unexpectedly, so why create chaos as a norm? Edit your life like you’d edit a book. Go on: make the load lighter.
Your takeaway points:
- Overwhelm and stress negatively impact your health.
- Are you dedicating adequate time to the most important things in your world?
- Are you dedicating adequate energy to those same things?
- What trade-offs have you refused to make? Are they worth making now?
- Complications often occur mindlessly. Stay aware of, and in control of, them.
- Do you associate ‘complexity’ with ‘importance’, or something similar? Consider if this connection is paying off.