Simplify Your Life and Save Your Sanity

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” – Thoreau

When life starts getting too fast and frantic, you will know that it is time to simplify.

I see too many people making lives that are needlessly complicated then they question why they are so stressed and anxious all the time. We used to run around barefoot with mason jars and catch fireflies. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful. We forget the beauty of living a natural life.

Many of us are already familiar with lifestyle creep. Our society, the advertisers, our peers, nearly everyone and everything in our life try and push us towards this path. Constantly upgrading. Endless drinks and food. Always spending more as our incomes rise. Heaven forbid we might actually get ahead for once. Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t better yourself if your situation is not great. We all deserve a comfortable home and a car that starts, yet I see a lot of people putting unnecessary stress on their lives by living so close to their means.

The older you get, the less time you’ll have to pursue your goals and hobbies. More time gets spent on family and career. As the years go on, you’ll start looking back at all time wasted on wasteful endeavors.

Our society puts too great an emphasis on money and not enough on time. When I was in college I saw people wait in line at Chipotle for over 2 hours to get a free burrito. These things cost like $6 so they value their time at less than $3 an hour. This perfectly encapsulates how we prioritize the wrong things in our lives. And Chipotle is hardly a good decision when it doesn’t take up 2 hours of your day. That time could have been spent studying or hitting the gym. Spending a few bucks on a meal is worth freeing up 2 hours of your day.

The point is that there are so many people actively helping people with their budgets and debt, and these are very important issues that many of us face and their help is welcome. My point is, some get addicted to this idea of pinching pennies to the point where they are tripping over dollars to pick up pennies. 1440 is the number of minutes in a day. Start thinking of these minutes as a form of currency. Every day you get 1440 and you have to spend them. What separates those who are successful and fulfilled from those who struggle and are unhappy is the way that currency is spent. Every time you hit that snooze button, you lose 7 of these time dollars. 400 – 500 go to sleeping so really you have less than 1,000 for each day. Commuting can save you money, but it costs a lot of time and in my experience, sanity. Balance is everything but if you commute too far, then it might be worth reevaluating where you live or work. Some companies will allow you to work at home if they feel you are valuable enough. It never hurts to ask. All they can say is no.

The more complicated our lives get, the more of this time gets bogged down. It is this mentality that led Mark Zuckerberg to wear the same outfit every single day. It saves him time and mental energy. We all have things in our life that weigh us down emotionally and physically. Right now, I know I need to organize my desk to remove some of the clutter. It is something that has distracted me all week. Less is more. Society will tell you otherwise but those thoughts are from the group-think of minds brainwashed by advertisers.

Don’t be afraid of letting things go. If they no longer serve a purpose in your life or are distracting you from your ideal life, then it is times to minimize your possessions or habits. Life is amazing and there is so much awesome stuff to do and not enough time in the day. So, we have to be efficient with our time and focus on what we truly love. Otherwise we wind up wasting our time and our money, both of which are in short supply for most of us.

My epiphany came as I went through my divorce. If you haven’t been through one, you have no appreciation for how taxing it can be on people. Taxing emotionally, monetarily and physically. I survived it because of the gym and my writing. I had a private investigator tell me that this will change me to my core. At first, I resisted the thought, but then I realized that this could be a positive change. After months of pointless fights where the courts have no interest in morality, integrity or who would be a better parent, I realized that no system would ever hold me back forever. Now that I have survived it, I’m stronger and more focused than I ever thought possible. By having my money and time strained for months, I was forced to look at every single aspect of my life. Nothing was sacred anymore and I stopped doing a lot of habits and hobbies that suddenly seemed insignificant. I quit playing video games when the divorce started and haven’t really played any since that time. I’m up to 441 days now. As my life is back in order, I may get back to them at some point, but for now they don’t seem important. I have to many items left on my resolution for this year. Namely several books I intend to read before the year is up. I know now that gaming had held me back from knocking out these books and other life goals.

Sometimes it takes these tragic moments for us to finally realize where our true passions lie. Some days I have doubts about why I write and whether it is worth my time. Other days it seems like a huge success and I see the benefits to others in responses I get, both in private and in public. Perhaps most importantly is the mental clarity my writing provides me as well as the sanity of getting these thoughts off my chest.

My writing is now a part of me. It is a constant reminder of who I am as a person and how I’ve grown over the years. By constantly putting out my thoughts and reading through past posts, I am able to remind myself why I get up every morning, and why I put myself out there. Life is complicated, but that is usually of our own doing. Living a simple life allows us to focus on the life we truly want to live.