So many of the discussions I have in my practice have at their core a wish for more simplicity in life or a career. It seems like in pursuing success so many of us get lost in a complexity that runs everything: Suddenly there is no spare time or freedom to decide what you want to use your time, money or effort on.
Even when you get a glimpse of this simplicity you tend to question it: Can it really be true that it is so simple, when everybody else is telling me that things are so complicated? YES, it is simple!! It doesn’t mean that things are always easy and without pain, but they are not naturally complicated.
But how can you and I go back to living and working from this place of simplicity, and leverage this profound idea?
Bringing in simplicity is mostly a change of focus rather than a bunch of tools that will make the complexity go away. Practicing simplicity is simple, but it takes commitment and effort. There are so many suggestions on how to pursue simplicity but in my work, I have found that four elements will get you much closer to a lifestyle more grounded in simplicity.
Practicing presence is the very first step. We tend to use so much of our focus on what has been and what will become that we are not present where we are. This is important because NOW things are always easy and simple. It is the identification with the past and the anxiety about the future that will bring in complexity. In Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now” he gives a lot of suggestions on how we can be more present, but if we boil it down, presence is basically a CURIOSITY about what is going on RIGHT NOW. Also, taking a few deep breaths will help you become present.
We – myself included – have a tendency to want to change what is actually taking place. It brings a lot of unnecessary struggle into our lives, especially when we try to change other people and other things that are out of our control. But the simplest thing we can do is to start with acceptance: This is what I see happening right now. This is what I see this person or situation displaying. It doesn’t mean that we cannot act on anything, but the simplest solution comes up when we accept what we see right in front of us.
We are bound to seek connection with other people, but many relationships are a battlefield with an unnecessary amount of pain. Often when things get tough in relationships we close down and remove ourselves. Of course there will be times when you have to remove yourself from an unfruitful or even abusive relationship, but most of the time it will make your life simpler if you instead step closer. If you are removing yourself or closing down, ask yourself: How can I be more candid and vulnerable? How can I step closer?
Live your inner values
We need to get back to who we are because from there things become simpler. It is a journey not a quick fix. But you can start today just by asking yourself: What do I really want/need right now? How can I do something that will fulfill me? We often exchange needs – If you take care of my needs I will take care of yours. But the simplest way in life and work is that we all take responsibility for filling ourselves up first.
If you decide to move on from here you can re-find your inner values and start making decisions and prioritize in a way that is guided by them – click here for instructions on this process. Again, it is not always easy, but it is simple.
If this is the summer where you bring more simplicity into your life, here is in short how to do it:
- Be CURIOUS about what is going on right in front of you right now and breathe.
- Practice ACCEPTance of what you see around you – before you start doing anything.
- Step CLOSER into your relationships. Be a little bit more candid and vulnerable. Experiment your way into this.
- Ask yourself: What do I really want/need right now? How can I do something that will FULFILL ME?
Finally, whenever you are deciding or prioritizing, choose whatever will make your life and career simpler rather than more complicated – so that with every step you are a little bit more free to decide where you want to use your time, money and effort.
Have a wonderful summer!