The art of a simple life – particularly one that’s also joyful – comes down to choice. Making the conscious choice to prioritise what’s most important.
With greater simplicity there’s even more space to be aware of the moment by moment opportunities for conscious living which is wonderful, and potentially devastating in equal measure.
We get sold a beautiful lie with motherhood these days…well probably more than a few lies, but the one that comes most often to mind is the total fallacy that, as mothers in the 21st century, we can have, and do, it all.
Nor should we try to. As soon as we can come to terms with this simple truth, the sooner the peace of simplicity is within our grasp.
I’m not just talking about the obvious career versus children struggle that so many of us face, but about the smaller deeds of the everyday. Every decision we make has the potential to take us closer to, or further away from, a truly joyful and healthy existence. From what we eat, who we meet, the environments we spend our time in, the media we consume and any number of other choices.
This realisation, coupled with the magnitude of the limitations when one takes on a simplified existence makes it a bit of a “red pill-blue pill” kind of deal.
Opting for the simple life means choosing less, and that’s not always as easy as it first appears.
I know that sounds rather obvious, simplification obviously means streamlining. Most people can be persuaded to get rid of what they don’t want. Cutting back on what we don’t need is relative child’s play.
It’s when we are in a situation where some of the good stuff has gotta go too that it starts to get tricky. It’s hard for example, not seeing my friends as much as I’d like, but it’s harder dealing with the fallout of too many late nights or disrupted routines for the children. It’s hard not having inspiration, fulfillment and financial freedom that working for myself gave me, but harder when I contemplate the alternative and what that would mean to our family and ultimately who gets to raise our children. There are countless trade offs.
Sometimes choosing a simple and more joyful life involves recognizing that our expectations of what is truly possible are off base, especially once we start factoring in maintaining a genuine state of wellbeing.
How we interpret social media has a lot to answer for in terms of managing our expectations. We see streams and streams of perfect snapshops, of perfect lives. Our unconscious is subtlety programmed into believing that what we see is reality rather than just a fragment. That the fragment was probably preceded, and followed, by one not nearly as photo worthy or enviable escapes our attention.
Media, advertising and the world at large, if we are not mindful, can just end up creating within us deep pits of unmet desires in which to wallow and wail. We can be pulled off centre and away from the signal of our own true heart’s desire as we are spending so much time absorbed in everyone else’s.
Truly understanding what’s most important to you and having the courage to honour that in the face of the world’s conflicting priorities is the key to graceful simplification.