Sometimes the most complicated skill is to be simple.
Several years back, before Angel and I started simplifying our lives, I remember everything being far more complicated.
We would say yes just to satisfy others, and juggle fifty obligations at once, and try to control everything, and feed into the daily drama circles, and rush between places and people and tasks … like CRAZY! And by “crazy,” I mean the lifestyle we were living can drive a person insane!
We eventually reached a breaking point – we were beaten down and bleeding profusely from self-inflected stress and negativity.
These days I know a lot of people still live overly stressful lifestyles. If you think you may be one of them, even if it’s just sometimes, here are a few key things Angel and I have learned – some simple reasons life often gets too complicated, for all of us on occasion:
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- We try to do way too much. – Overcommitting is the biggest mistake most people make that complicates life. It’s tempting to fill in every waking second of the day with to-do list tasks and distractions. Don’t do this to yourself. Leave space.
- We try to control way too much. – When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little. Sometimes you just need to let go, relax, take a deep breath and appreciate what is.
- We lose our patience and our poise. – Two things, more than anything else, define you daily – your patience when you are struggling, and your attitude when you are not.
- We respond with negativity. – A positive attitude is not a reaction to the way things are. Rather, it is an expression of the way YOU are. Be positive! Change your unhelpful bitterness into determination. The energy is already there. All you need to do is shift your focus.
- We seek constant validation from others. – Create a life that feels great on the inside to YOU, not one that just looks great on the outside to everyone else. Don’t be scared to walk alone down the path less traveled, and don’t be scared to love every minute of it.
- We spend too much time with toxic people. – It’s better to walk alone with dignity, rather than beside people who constantly require you to sacrifice your happiness and self-respect.
- We let the haters get to us. – Most haters don’t really hate you; they just hate where they are in life, and you’re a reflection of what they wish to become.
- We feed into the drama. – Don’t participate in drama circles just for the sake of it. Don’t judge someone just because they’ve made different mistakes than you have. When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself. (Read The Four Agreements.)
- We worry constantly about our problems. – Worrying about problems does nothing but steal your joy and keep you busy spinning in circles – it’s like using your imagination to create what you don’t want. In fact, “focusing” on problems isn’t any better – never spend more than 10% of your time on problems, and always spend at least 90% of your time on solutions.
- We hold on too tight, to everything. – You can’t live a simpler life if you’re unwilling to change and let go of what you’re used to. Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in your journey.
- We hesitate every step of the way. – Wouldn’t you rather have a life of “OH WELLS” than a life of “WHAT IFS”? Wouldn’t you rather take chances and learn something new every day? Be determined and ambitious, but not out of a desperate sense of need. Do it out of a love for the possibilities. Enjoy your journey! Follow your bliss, explore and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
- We focus on every time and place other than right here, right now. – If you worry too much about what might be, and wonder too long about what might have been, you will ignore and completely miss what is. Be here now. Today is yours to shape. Create a masterpiece.
- We try to cut corners. – Do the right thing, always, even if no one else will ever know. Because YOU will know.
- We avoid the tough and necessary conversations. – A great deal of your success and peace of mind in all walks of life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.
- We lose track of our priorities. – Priorities don’t get done automatically. You have to make time for what’s important to you – time with your significant other, time with your kids, time for creating, time for learning, time for exercise, etc. Push everything else aside to make time. By saying no to more things that sound really exciting, you get to say yes to more of what’s truly important.
- We procrastinate. – Nothing clutters the mind more than a perpetually lingering task. Remember, the feeling you get from doing something important, and getting it done, is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around thinking about doing it.
- We have far more baggage than we need. – When we travel lightly, we’re freer, less burdened, and less stressed. This applies to traveling through life too, not just traveling through an airport.
- We let old mistakes live on in our hearts and minds. – In life, we do lots of things – some we wish we could take back, some we wish we could relive a hundred times. All of these things, positive and negative alike, have taught us important lessons and have collectively made us into the person we are today. If we were to reverse or adjust any of them, we wouldn’t be who we are; we would be someone else. So make mistakes, learn from them, laugh about them, and move along. Waste not a minute on past outcomes you can’t control.
- We give up on ourselves too soon. – It’s not who you are that holds you back, it who you think you’re not. Judging yourself is not the same as being honest with yourself. Don’t sell yourself short! Remember why you started in the first place. Take a deep breath, and keep going.
- We compare ourselves to others who seem better off. – Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 10. Follow your own path, write your own story, and turn the pages that need turning. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
There’s no limit to how complicated life can get, just by one thing always leading to another.
As you think about the list above, it becomes clear that life isn’t really complicated… WE are complicated! And our complications begin in our brains – in our way of thinking.
In your journey to simplify your life, the biggest obstacle you’ll ever have to overcome is your mind. If you can overcome that, you can overcome anything.
The key is to start small, right now. Work on uncomplicating just one thing today… or just one little part of one thing. That’s how Angel and I got from where we were to where we are, gradually, one day at a time.
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Which point above do you resonate with the most? What kinds of thoughts, habits or behaviors sometimes complicate your life?
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