by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17
In a TED Talk I recently watched, I found out that humans in the modern world are constantly in a state of overwhelm, and we need to simplify. At least, according to our brain scans. There’s so much going on all the time that of course our brains, which were wired for a simpler way of life only a few hundred years ago, are struggling to keep up with the speed of our progress.
Simplifying, in this case, can lead to less stress and a little less perpetual shock and confusion. Maybe we don’t need to be constantly absorbed in something. Maybe there’s something valuable to gain from idleness, an occasional break that we’ve forgotten how to take in our time of constant stimulation.
Here are some tips to help simplify your life that are remarkably easy to do.
- Some people swear by routines and some say they are the bane of creativity. Regardless of where you fall in this dichotomy, routine is a one of productivity’s closest cousins. Having a morning routine that becomes mindless – coffee, shower, write 500 words – seems droll, but after just five months, you’ve written a novel’s worth of words and have found a bit of ease in you routine. The longer you have a routine, the more relaxing it becomes to you.
- Reevaluate how you spend your time. Are the tasks you fill your day with creating anything valuable? Are there any tangible results to show for your 24 hours every day? If not, maybe you should reconsider the tasks you do. Somethings that feel so important while you’re doing them – like learning Japanese or planning out your dream trip to Belize – can amount to nothing tangible. Some people enjoy these types of activities, though. You have to decide how to spend your time.
- Cut avenues of communication out. If you subscribe to every single social media available to you, meaning you spend hours every day checking them all, it’s time to scale back. The fewer ways people can get in touch with you, the simpler your life will be. Or you can be like Ron Swanson and try to move Off the Grid. This, however, can have its own challenges.
- Understand that it’s okay to not have an opinion. I personally struggle with my lack of opinion on many huge topics in our society, like immigration and capital punishment. I just don’t know how I feel and sometimes I panic and feel like I need to know. Perhaps I don’t need to know. It’s one thing to have an opinion and it’s another thing to do something that furthers a cause. So much of our time is spent defending our opinions – which yields nothing – that we forget to act on them. Your life will be much simpler if you get involved in the things you care about and let go of the things you don’t.
- Put it in perspective. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of thinking that sees you as the center of the world. Try and remember though that you are one in 7 billion, and that ultimately, whatever issue you are struggling with – whether to take a job or try the new restaurant down the street –this decision is a small decision in the grand scheme. This doesn’t mean you don’t matter, but maybe it means that not every little thing you do has to matter so much. Take that pressure and expectation off yourself.
- Let yourself be idle. Lay on your bed with no screen to look at or music to listen to. Let your thoughts drift and try to relax into your moments of nothingness. Your brain will be thankful for these moments of not being overwhelmed. You will be too.
Simple is better: you’ve heard that a million times. But like that advice your mom always gave you growing up, perhaps there’s some value in it after all.
Sources: Huff Post