Life today for most people moves at a hectic pace. A surprising number of people are convinced that they always have to be “doing something” and are so afraid of boredom that they deliberately fill any free time with activities and planned events… multitask to take advantage of every single minute… and then wonder why their lives still feel empty. Feeling that you’re just existing instead of really living each day is a horrible feeling… but life doesn’t have to be like that.
Voluntary simplicity is about making conscious choices in your life… emphasizing the good, minimizing or eliminating the bad, and making deliberate decisions about the best path to take… for you and your family. The most meaningful advice for anyone having trouble getting their life under control is simply slow down. The stress of always being in a hurry drains your spirit, distracts your mind, and prevents you from focusing on what is really important. It fools you into wasting time in areas that don’t reflect your values or your goals. And worst of all, it robs you of the peace of mind and serenity that a life of voluntary simplicity will bring.
So what can you do if your life feels like it’s spinning out of control and you don’t know how to slow it down? Start small… here are a few simple but effective ideas.
- Learn to say no. Accept that you can’t do everything that everybody asks you to do. Saying no politely but firmly is a skill that everybody should work on. Sometimes people will make you feel guilty if you say no, but keep your priorities in mind. Saying yes to everyone isn’t generosity… but it is unrealistic and self-destructive.
- Cut down on your Internet and telephone time. The Internet is a wonderful tool, bringing a world’s worth of information, communication, and entertainment into our homes almost instantaneously… but it can also be the world’s biggest time waster. Don’t let the Internet be your time management excuse, and don’t buy into the cell phone companies’ idea that we need to be on the phone all the time.
- Take a break. The sameness of day-to-day activities can sap your energy, so take some time throughout the day to recharge your mental and spiritual batteries. Pray, rest, meditate… take a short walk outside, play with the family dog… spend a few minutes doing whatever works for you to renew your spirit for the rest of the day.
- Change your mindset. This takes courage and is the most important point of all. Stop thinking of unscheduled time as wasted time… some of life’s best moments come when you least expect them.
There is an old saying that every day is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that each day has twenty-four hours… the curse is that each day has ONLY twenty-four hours. A hectic and unmanageable life isn’t a problem with time because we all have those same twenty-four hours… it’s a problem with time management. Slow down… make conscious choices instead of knee-jerk reactions… and try to pack your life full of richness and meaning rather than frenetic activity. I think you’ll find that those twenty-four hours are more than enough time to make each day of your life as wonderful and fulfilling as you deserve.