I think as you start to learn things…you notice it more in every day life. For example, when I was learning new words growing up I was always excited to see how often it could actually be used. Or, a more recent example was in my adult life I desperately wanted a mini cooper(and ended up getting one)…but after doing so I saw mini coopers EVERYWHERE! Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that when shift our vision, we just notice things differently.
How does this relate to simple living? Well, as I’ve started to really be more mindful and attempt to live by the motto on my wall “slow down and simplify,” I’ve seen how it can be applied in the counseling room with clients. I’ve silently wondered how certain habits could be shifted…spending habits, emotional habits, scheduling habits…to create a lot more freedom in the lives of my clients. Here are ways I’ve noticed that shifting the pace of our lives can help all of us:
1. Stress on marriages
When I was working with one couple on the verge of divorce they told me about their lives. One partner works day shift in a growing family business (meaning, lots of stress and demands), the other works night shift. They have two small children and admitted that they just pass each other when one goes from day shift to night shift. Now, I don’t want to over-simplify things. Whenever there are problems in a marriage it’s not just a matter of cutting back schedules to see each other, because some people avoid seeing each other because of how complicated it can be while together! But, what I see helps many clients is recognizing how their lives might need to shift to really develop the marital relationship. It might seem simple, but many couples overlook this. Differing job schedules, kids, house chores…all are things that lead to strain on a marriage. Pairing down, seeing what is truly necessary in terms of financial needs, is a step to relieving some of the stress in marriages.
2. Pull from what matters most
We can find many things to make us busy. For each of us, it can look slightly different. I was working with a client who took a minute to pause, slow her breathing, and ask herself what matters most to her. Her answer was much different from how she was currently running her life. Sometimes we stay busy to avoid deeper feelings or handle sticky situations, but if we let that go on too long it comes back to bite us. There are things that are important, and then there are things that aren’t as important, we just get going on the hamster wheel without taking a moment to pause to see if the way we are investing our energy is in line with our values.
3. Higher rates of anxiety and depression
Gosh, I am really astounded by the rates of anxiety I see. It saddens me, because anxiety points to a deeper unrest. Again, I don’t want to over-simplify by saying that by slowing down all things will be solved, but it really does help. Our busy lives can add to anxiety, and they can also cover up the deeper issues underlying the anxiety. Remember, treating anxiety is treating the symptom. It’s important to look at the cause of the symptom. Are you anxious about having a certain number on your paycheck…because that seems like security to you? Or, are you anxious because you’re lacking solid, genuine relationships where the real you can shine through? Are you trying to keep up with others around you, which can stem from a lower self-esteem? When we become anxious it's key that we slow down to take a deeper look.
4. Lost touch with oneself
This one is big. I’ve been there, and so many of my clients have as well. When we are quickly moving through life, we don’t know where we’re going or pausing to see if we are living full and purposeful lives. We keep going, unsure how to change things, and then realize until we are in too deep that we have made some decisions that are not in line with our true selves. The way we can reverse this is to make time to contemplate, pray, journal, be still. When we value connecting with our inner selves, we end up forming lives that are full of meaning and joy. It doesn’t mean life is always easy, but we are living with integrity, a key ingredient to a purposeful life.
I wonder if you can relate to any of these? Thanks for reading through them with me. I pray that as we continue to journey in our lives to simplify we can design lives that make us light up just a bit brighter! Happy rooting, friends!