Category Archives: Happiness

Y is for Yes: A-Z of Simple Living

Y is for Yes: A-Z of Simple Living

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

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Embracing simple living feels like saying no a lot.

  • No, I won’t buy that dress.
  • No, I don’t need to fill that space.
  • No, I won’t overcommit my time.
  • No, I won’t buy into the drama.

And quite often, we need to say no.

But simple living isn’t about withholding pleasures, going without joy or embracing a life of scarcity. It’s about setting yourself free. Specifically, setting yourself free to say yes more often, yes to the things that are important, yes to actually living life.

We can be free to say yes to:

  • space – both mental and physical
  • your kids when they ask you to play
  • engaging more
  • enjoying a cup of coffee with your partner – even if there is still work to be done
  • finding your passions
  • peace and quiet – sitting in the stillness is OK
  • spontaneous adventures and travel
  • getting up earlier

Some of these things you may be already doing, and some you may have no interest in doing. The difference here is choice. We’re making room in our lives – by simplifying – to say yes to more of the things we want to, when we want to.

What do you want to say yes to?

 

W is for Wonderment: A-Z of Simple Living

W is for Wonder: A-Z of Simple Living

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

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“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
                                                                                                               — W.B. Yeats

Simple living is many things. It’s:

But it’s also beauty and wonder and joy. Because if not for beauty; for unexpected moments of joy or delight; creativity and wonderment, then what are we working for?

It goes against the grain of our ‘efficiency and productivity at all costs’ society, but taking time to wonder and making space for wonder is one of the keys to a simpler, happier, more satisfied life.

Wonder of Curiosity

Take time to think and question, to be curious and to ask how? Why? Who?

Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” And it’s when we stop questioning that we lose the beauty of discovery.

If we didn’t question, we would not have the opportunity to marvel at exactly why the sky is blue, or how a bird’s skeleton is hollow, or the fact that children laugh over 300 times a day while adults manage around 15 giggles.

These things, and the world around us, hold such incredible beauty and wonder. If we stop being curious though, we miss out.

The Wonder of Tiny Moments

Dewdrops on a spiderweb, the rise and fall of a sleeping child’s chest, the lacework of shadows on the lawn, the way you and your partner can share a joke and just feel love, the plant flowering in the middle of a 4-lane freeway, the sky’s precise shade of lavender as the sun sets, the ridges and peaks of a knuckle, the warmth of your breath as it passes out your nose.

Take time to notice them.

The Wonder of Enormous Ideas

The sheer size of the night sky, the way music can bring an arena of ten thousand people together, the ocean, unconditional love, the way the least fortunate among us can be the most giving, Earth’s rotation, forgiveness from a child, wisdom.

Let your mind go there.

 

Wonder brings awareness. It brings gratitude for what we have and where we are right now. It allows us to bask in a very real beauty, even just for a moment. And best of all – it’s not reliant on how much you earn, where you live, what you wear or how many friends you have. Wonder and beauty are everywhere.

And the fact that you can find it in Tel Aviv, Chicago, Bangkok or Wellington is one of the greatest levellers there is. We all have capacity for wonder.

V is for Value: A-Z of Simple Living

V is for Value: A-Z of Simple Living

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

V is for Value.

But in this case I’m not talking about things of monetary value (although that could be part of it) and I’m not talking about moral and ethical values. Instead, I’m asking what regular, everyday things do you value? What people, relationships, experiences, feelings, rituals and belongings do you hold dear?

Or put another way, if you removed everything that didn’t matter – the clutter, the complications, the drama, the ‘shoulds’, the guilt – to get to the very core of what is essential to you, what would remain?

Perhaps, like me, you value:

  • chatting over a coffee with your partner?
  • quality time spent with your kids – as opposed to ‘busy’ time?
  • reading good books?
  • travelling – locally and abroad?
  • listening to good music?
  • afternoon naps?
  • work that satisfies you?
  • helping people?
  • the din of a house full of family and friends?
  • time spent on your health?
  • time spent alone?

Whatever your answers, I want you to know that these things matter.

Yes, they may seem trivial when viewed as part of the Big Picture. Frivolous. Selfish even. And I can tell you they certainly don’t make up the majority of my day. That privilege goes to…housework.

But I think these little sparkles are the jewels in life.

  • Embracing afternoon naps will not change the world – but will change your day.
  • Listening to music will not stop climate change – but it does refill your creative fuel tank.
  • Travelling does not cure disease – but it opens your mind and heart.

If we’re simplifying in order to find a better way of life, don’t you think we should try and include more of these things we value? What are we doing it for if not to have at least the opportunity for more of these moments?

Life is, after all, for living.

 

 

U is for Unplugging: A-Z of Simple Living

#unplug #simpleliving #simplify

{via MattStevensCLT on Flickr}

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?

——

In 2015, we are receiving an average amount of information – per day – far greater than anything our ancestors received in a lifetime.

Isn’t that just… nuts?

Is it little wonder we feel stressed? Strained? Overwhelmed?

What we need is more time to ourselves.More time to just be. More time to engage – really engage – with life.

We need to unplug.

Our constantly connected world has so many advantages. We can communicate across vast distances, virtually experience incredible places, learn from masters and discover anything imaginable with a few clicks of a mouse button or swipe of a finger.

But we are also constantly connected. We carry our smartphones in our pockets, using them as cameras, calendars, notebooks and alarm clocks. We feel naked without at least one source of connection – be it an iPad, a smartphone, a laptop – or all three.

We forget how to simply be. How to immerse ourselves in whatever is in front of us. How to truly engage in face-to-face conversation, personal connections and true down-time. And we are burning out. We are addicted to this digital connection. We are afraid that if we unplug we will miss out on something.

There is a price to pay for this constant level of connection and it is steep unless we learn to offset it with periods of disconnection.

The Power of the Off Switch

Disconnection from the online world allows us to reconnect or fully connect with the physical world in front of us. Fully connect with our kids, our partner, our family, our friends, our work, our environment, our imagination.

Unplugging sounds like such a simple idea. And it really is.

Only once you start to think about how you spend your down time it becomes apparent that while it is simple, it may not be easy.

Think about it:

How do you like to unwind?

A glass of wine at the end of the day? Reading a book? Flicking through a magazine? Spending time in the garden? Wonderful.

What about reading blogs? Or ebooks? Watching TV while you enjoy that glass of wine? Flicking through a digital version of your magazine? Not to mention Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest?

The second list may be ways you like to relax, but you are still connected. The virtual world is still there, pulling you in 32 opposing directions, tempting you to learn more, see more, know more.

Powering Down – Daily

This involves taking time every day and unplugging from the constantly connected world.

It means unplugging from your:

  • laptop
  • email
  • smartphone
  • TV

Switch them all off and do something in the physical world.

You could try:

  • sitting quietly
  • reading
  • walking
  • playing with your kids
  • writing
  • talking with your partner or spouse
  • prayer
  • meditation
  • yoga
  • simple stretching exercises
  • sipping a coffee outside, watching the sky, hearing the birds.

The important thing is that you connect with the real world, or allow your mind to access a different virtual one – the world of your imagination.

If You’re Having Trouble Unplugging…

If it’s proving difficult to find time for this ritual, you could try:

  • unplugging on the bus or train on your way to and from work
  • getting up earlier and enjoy the early morning quiet without plugging in to your computer or phone – the emails can wait fifteen minutes
  • leaving for the gym 15 minutes earlier and find a quiet spot to sit
  • watching one less television show at night or DVR it and come back to it later
  • making a real effort to cut back on social media – I’m looking at you, Facebook and Twitter. Cut it in half and use that time to be fully in the offline world. How many Twitter updates do you really need to scroll through anyway?

However you choose to do it, make it a priority to get downtime each and every day.

Do you have daily disconnected time? Do you feel more calm or more anxious? More engaged or more disconnected? More content or more dissatisfied? I know which I feel, but I want to hear from you…

 

One Little Spark

Robin Williams

This probably isn’t the first post you’ve read about the passing of Robin Williams, and my guess is it won’t be the last. But it will be the first and last you read here.

I’m not one for celebrity and apart from Princess Diana, I don’t think I’ve ever cried at the passing of a famous person, no matter how much I enjoyed their films/music/art.

Until today.

When I heard about Robin Williams’ death, I spent 20 minutes scrolling through news and social media sites, fixed my kids some morning tea, closed the door to my office and I cried my eyes out.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on why for the better part of the day, and I’m still not sure.

I think part of it is my own experience with depression and the fact that I’m in a bit of a down phase. But there’s also just an acute sadness that a brilliant spark has gone out.

I don’t know of anyone my age who grew up without regular viewings of Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire or Hook. (“Ru-fi-ooooooooooo!”) At the heart of these movies, and many others, was a playfulness and the desire to stay in a childlike joy. The underlying message: “Don’t take things too seriously, whatever you do.”

There will be much talk about mental health today, as a result of this great actor’s apparent suicide, and I hope with all my heart that these discussions help tear down the walls of stigma and silence that surround depression and other mental illnesses. God knows they need to come down, too many people are going under.

But maybe we can keep space for that childlike joy too. The mischievous grin, the glee in a well-placed one-liner, the joy of a middle-aged man dressed up as an elderly lady, the unbridled delight in a Neverland food fight.

After all, as Peter Benning put it at the end of Hook:

To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.

When we can, I think we should live that adventure with as much childlike joy as we can.

there you are, peter.

RIP, Robin Williams.

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