“Simplify to amplify.” —Marie Forleo
Mono-tasking, a singular focus of our energy, time and thoughts.
One area of expertise, diving deep, giving our whole attention, dedication and investment of time and resources.
Often when any phrase similar to what is shared above is uttered, we think of what is let go, but the truth in the words, the motto, that Marie Forleo has shared over and over again that works for her, how she lives her life as a highly creative person, is the space we gain by letting go.
As I shared in last week’s Monday Motivational post, when I let go of certain people and hobbies that no longer supported the journey and life that I wanted to live, there wasn’t a desire to fill the supposed void because there was no void, but rather a gain; I had given myself the awesome gifts of more space and time to invest in those people and passions that remained, and this choice, while it may not be initially easy, is an investment worth making in a life that is a joy to live and is grounded in the principle of simplifying thoughtfully.
In this detailed post shared earlier this year, the value of simplicity I share the powerful ramifications of benefits on our entire lives, and in today’s post I would like to share with you specifically and through examples in my own life, how simplicity has contributed to more contentment, enjoyment, calm and moments of celebration and appreciation.
1.The lessons have time to sink in and we have the ability to understand their value and then the time to apply them consciously to our lives, reaping the benefits
I have read many a book over the years on a wide array of topics in social sciences, neurology, history, finance – you name it, if there was an area of life and living I was curious to learn more about, I sought out and seek out experts in those particular fields and try to gain as much wisdom as possible. However, when we have a busy schedule, many demands of our attention, many responsibilities, while we may read a book or take in new information that we know to be valuable, if we don’t have the time to process it, the time to explore it, and most importantly the time to apply it to our lives so that it has time to show us its value, we miss the full and entire gift of what we want to add to our lives to create the life we see and now know, through our reading and exploration, is possible.
One such example recently in my own life is applying the lesson to live and focus on the present moment – not getting ahead of ourselves and thus worrying about something that is not even on your calendar yet. What I mean by this is, in the past, because it felt as though so much of my life what out of my control that caused stress – the school schedule, world events, etc., and not having entirely stepped into what fulfilled me (writing), I would focus on (and then fret about) events I wanted to happen waaaaaay down the road – a planned trip abroad – who would watch my dogs?, to what is going to happen when I retire? because I thought if I could solve those worries, I would feel more ‘in control’, but the truth was, I was actually causing myself more stress and unnecessarily so. Why? because how today is handled determines how the next day, the next week, the next year will unfold, and all we have is today which is where we must hold our full attention. But because I was engulfed in such a full schedule of demands and responsibilities, and doing decently well at them, I thought – why not
worry plan ahead? It was unnecessary, and most importantly, unhelpful and destructive to my mental well-being.
Now, as I think about hopes long down the road, they are just that, hopes, and while it is absolutely a good idea to have them and even hold them as loose goals, I must let them go and focus on what I am doing now that will ensure the best possibility for those hopes and desired outcomes to materialize. in so doing, my days are more joyful and void of stress, and because I am remaining open, more opportunities cross my path and I can see them more clearly and know which ones are best for where i want to go and how i want to live. Why? Because I am holding myself in the now.
In other words, when we know how we want to live, what is of value, we have to let go. First, we have to be courageous enough to let go of what drain our valuable us of finite and necessary resources – time and energy; and then we must be strong enough to no longer say yes to invitations that take away these precious resources in the future.
2. Clarity of understanding
When you give yourself more ‘white space’ to see how certain activities, people, conversations, anything or however you spend your time, affect you, then you can make decisions more easily as you move forward to better tailor your life to nurture what fuels you.
Take for example the HSP temperament that I wholeheartedly identify with. My time with animals, in my daily life specifically Norman, is a life elevator that is near immeasurable. Animals have played a powerfully positive role in my entire life as I detail in the introduction of my first book and throughout my third book. It was during my years at undergrad I sorely noticed this loss of quality that only my animals could ever really bring into my life. Sure, I tried to fill that void with what everyone else said would make me enjoy college life (being part of a sports team – collegiate and/or intramural sports, a boyfriend, parties, etc.), but it never worked, not even close. However, I also know, as was shared in last week’s Motivational post, what brings contentment to my life won’t necessarily have the same affects in others’ lives which made it all the more confusing in my young adult life as I looked to others for advice. Needless to say, it never landed nor made sense because well, even though I knew they had the best intentions, I also knew myself unconsciously pretty well, even if I didn’t know my own internal language well enough to interpreted what it was trying to tell me in vivid clarity.
All of this is to say, when I gave myself space and time to not be bombarded by the ‘culture’ outside of me (this “space gaining” began most significantly during the pandemic, but especially so after I retired from teaching and solely focused on my writing career), I began to trust that I knew without question what or who gave me companionship and the freedom to be myself, and that was my dogs and always in my childhood, all of our animals. Due to my being so busy and having so many responsibilities with two emotionally and time demanding jobs for 12 years (when both overlapped), and through my 20 years as a teacher, a career I loved but was never wholly fulfilling, the doubts lingered about relationships and family and my career path and purpose because I didn’t have the time to go deeper and realize what was innately true for me whether or not anyone else understood, and so I couldn’t build up the inner strength to stand with my decisions enough to trust them. It wasn’t until I did build up that trust in myself, which came from have the time and space to do so without excessive demands, that I could honor what I knew was true in my core. Now, as I move forward, it is very clear the important role dogs play in my life, and I hold on to that in making decisions moving forward.
3. How much time and energy to give to social engagement, and determining which type fuels versus drains
Similar to #2 above, when you give yourself the bandwidth, i.e. time, to assess how you feel and why you feel the way you do, you begin to make better decisions for your everyday life.
When your life has an overflowing schedule, often there are misunderstandings of why you feel the way you do and what caused you to do what you did. For example, projecting. When we are overwhelmed at work with a particular task or project, or if something is causing stress in our personal relationships of any kind that are of importance to our daily lives, we can carry that stress over to other areas that are not directly related. The only thing that makes them related is us. We may speak to our colleagues with shortness or become quickly flabbergasted by what is going on at our workplace when what has caused our short temperedness, and our lack of patience is something that has drained us emotionally at home. And because we don’t have time to decompress, we just ‘carry on’, and when we do this, we do ourselves no favors, and give ourselves no time to adequately understand and thus not repeat the same offense that is decreasing the quality of our lives.
Even when our lives are simplified to the amount that enables us to elevate our lives, we will still make mistakes, gaffs, misspeaks, etc., but the difference is, we will have the time and space to understand what we did that needs to be fixed or necessitate an apology and communicate lovingly and with integrity so that we can continue to build trust and learn as a person so as not to make the same mistake again.
In my own life, I recognize the importance of building strong, respectful relationships with my neighbors, something that began during the pandemic in the neighborhood I live now having just previously moved into the neighborhood and then having much more time to talk to my neighbors. Since then, because I had the time to observe the benefit of this, I take the time now when I see them outside, to not rush past and simply wave, but chat for a bit, remember previous conversations and connect in a manner that fits that particular neighbor to simultaneously show connection but also respect for each of our boundaries. If I misspeak or forget to acknowledge something that I know might be of importance to them, as I have exchanged phone numbers with a handful of them, I will quickly text and ensure I correct myself or acknowledge or extend gratitude. The point is, finally in my life, I have both the time to connect and the time to not feel doing so is a burden on my limited amount of time to relax at home. I have given my life more oxygen and white space so I can thoroughly appreciate and build what is of value in my life, where I call home.
Aside from our neighbors, the people we choose to spend our time with and what we choose to share with them that sits well with us when we return home and are with our own company, becomes more easily discernible, the more time we give ourselves to process. Again, if we have more time to arrive with clarity at what has made us uncomfortable or ill-at-ease, we make better future decisions about who to continue to connect with and how much of ourselves to reveal.
4. Knowing which risks to take
The blanket advice of “no risk, no reward” is unsound advice without the proper context and accurate knowledge of your life and your values. It is only when you know what is worth daring to attain, even if it doesn’t materialize, that taking a risk is good advice.
When you simplify and eliminate distractions (outside voices, outside opinions and external influence, etc.), you know far more easily (it isn’t always simple, as you know it will require more energy, time and investment, etc.) what you want to take a risk on or for because should the desired outcome occur, your life will be even more of a joy to live than it is now.
In my own life, when I was trying to decide if I should put an offer on my now owned house Le Papillon, I went back and forth for more than a few days. Part of the reason, I was giving it so much consideration was because I knew it was a risk (for one, I thought I was buying at the top of the real estate market – turns out, that was hardly the case as the pandemic was just around the corner and house prices would sky-rocket), but also that if it worked out as I had hoped, it would change my life entirely and in a way I had previously only imagined it could be. Having my values clear about wanting to be a homeowner, my decision, as you know, was to put in an offer, and the rest is history.
Undoubtedly, there are many, many more benefits of living a simplified life, but the four aspects shared above are the ones I have noticed most vividly in my life these past six or so months, and I am grateful to have this opportunity and see first-hand how simplifying has elevated the quality of my life. Most definitely, more posts on this topic will be shared in the future, but in the meantime, be sure to explore the new category in the TSLL’s Archives Simplicity to read any and all posts centered around this topic.
Wishing you a wonderful brand new week. Bonne journée.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
28 Ways to Simplify Your Entire Life, episode #298