Let’s KISS

President Clinton ran his presidential campaign focusing on the economy using the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid.”, a take on the phrase “Keep it simple, stupid”. I’m nice. I say, “Keep it simple, sweetie.”

What do I mean by ‘it”?

I mean your life and any part of it that seems to be out of control, overwhelming, or simply too much.

When people search for ‘simplicity’ the first couple results may encourage you to pitch out all your old magazines and ill-fitting clothes and inspire you to run to the nearest container store for some adorable organizing. Pinterest may become your new homepage.

But once you have the picture perfect house, what do you do when those feelings persist?

The idea that organizing your house will cause your life to setting from chaos to zen is appealing because you see instant and tangible results. And having a calm sanctuary really will help calm your mind. So, what is missing?

It’s not that something is missing. It’s a common mistake to focus on ‘fixing’ yourself in the most dramatic way, hoping to see results that will motivate you to continue. The issue is that it is easy to take an idea, like simplifying your life, and apply it in a dramatic fashion to an easily changed situation and expect it to manifest itself in other, more difficult areas.

To get to the brass tacks of simplifying your life it is important to remember that you are trying to simplify your life. It’s not simply your house and it’s not just for today.

Change takes a long time and can be daunting when you don’t see results to help motivate you to keep going. Personally, I start off strong and when I get close to finishing a task I’m all about it. It’s in my mid-game that I struggle the most.

So how can you simplify your life in a simple way?

I daresay that there is no one simple way. Some people may benefit from a few meditation sessions. Once they step back and look at themselves objectively they can begin effectively planning. Others may get the biggest boost from writing out a list of things they are happy about and once they focus on the positive it puts that out of balance feeling into perspective. Still others might prefer to systemically list out parts of their lives in categories, determine what is a problem in each, create steps to resolve these problems, and draft short-, medium-, and long-term goals to patch their lives up.

I suggest that you try whatever you think will help you: go for a run, write it out, create a system. I suggest you try more than one.

As far as I can see, the secret to simplicity is simply this: One step at a time.

Your life didn’t get complicated overnight and you can’t fix it in a day. Do what it takes to remind yourself that simplifying your life is a life long goal.

Gratitude

I’ve been absolutely stressing out about anything under the sun that has come my way the last couple weeks. This stress has thrown my three basic tenets – broke, lazy, and green – out the window.

How can I fix my mental state?

After eating fast food, junk food, a few impulse purchases, and a fair number of anxious tears I decided this isn’t okay.

Sound like something you’ve gone through? Whether it’s an unexpected bill pops up at the worst possible time, a love interest rejects you, or you get passed up for a promotion, when difficult and negative emotions pop up they take over.

I often let anxieties live in my head. Rent-free as they say. I can’t say I’m done with them forever. It may just take one more upsetting event to set me off, but today I feel so much better.

I have meditated and done gratitude lists and the like before. Each time I feel a bit better, then these new efforts eventually fall to the wayside. I’m no expert at developing habits. I often take my habit cues from zenhabits.net. As for dealing with the anxieties, I’m often overwhelmed by all the information out there.

The point of this post is to remind myself and anyone who needs reminding that this stuff is working. And it will take work for it to keep working. That’s not stressful work, it is positive and helpful work.

I’ve done two things in the last two days that have made a huge difference.

First, I was told to make a list of all events of my day and assigned a value to them. I CANNOT include stuff that goes on in my head. When you try this it can be as basic as I brushed my teeth (+1), my best friend called (+2), or I completed a big work project (+3). I dropped my phone and the screen cracked (-1), my lunch had spoiled so I had to skip it (-2), to my beloved pet died (-10).

In doing this I’ve noticed that when I look back on the day and am reminded of all the little good things, the positives outweigh the negatives. We are wired to remember the negative, but for the anxious and depressed that is detrimental. Sometimes, we need simple reminders that life will be alright.

Secondly, I meditated. No ‘om’ chants, no incense, no bad tries at perfectly emptying my brain. I used a guided youtube video, there are many to try. I simply focused on my breathing, then my body, sounds I could hear, and so on. It was focusing on the present that really made me breathe easier.

Yes, I may get fired tomorrow. I might also win a million dollars. Both are equally unlikely and should have no bearing on my today. All the baggage from yesterday? Can’t change the past.

I will need constant reminding of all this, day in and day out. But for now I’m adding to my list that I wrote a blog post (+2). Make an effort to remember the positives, the negatives and naysayers will handle the bad stuff without you. 🙂