A few months ago I wrote a post titled Five Things You Should Quit Doing Today, things like stop doubting yourself and stop trying to make it perfect. That’s one of my most viewed posts to this day, so I thought it was about time to expand on it and look at the flip side. Seems like a good topic for a 100th blog post, yes?
Living simply isn’t just about subtraction. In fact it’s not about subtraction at all, but curation. When you start getting rid of unnecessary things, activities, and old ways of thinking you open up the space to replace them with something better suited for you. Preferably something enjoyable. Maybe dancing, or cookies.
When I stopped obsessively checking my email I started getting more real work done. When I stopped shopping out of boredom I started paying attention to what I already have and repurposing more. When I stopped worrying so much about what people thought of me I started being more honest with myself.
Here are just a few things you should start doing today if you aren’t already.
Start Noticing More
There’s some really fascinating stuff out there to see people, even if you think everything around you is mundane and old hat. If you stop rushing around and take the time to look for it I promise you won’t be disappointed.
We all get busy and in a hurry sometimes and forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses, but if you’ll slow down for just a minute and take a look around you’ll see some pretty cool stuff. Put down the cell phone in the checkout line and start people watching, turn off the music when you’re walking and listen to the sounds of nature, or the city, or the whirr of machines at the gym. Take the time to actually stop and watch that squirrel fight or the helicopter flying too low overhead. Take it in and enjoy it. The other day I saw someone mailing a chicken at the post office. A live chicken. I might have missed out on that bit of awesome if I had my face glued to my phone.
Start Getting Excited
Letting yourself get excited by the little stuff can make a regular Tuesday feel like Christmas Eve, or Hanukkah Eve, or whatever day excites you. It doesn’t have to be big stuff, at any given time I’m probably looking forward to at least half a dozen really small things. Think about the next week and find the things that excite you… it might be the really good sandwich you packed today, meeting up with a friend later, or just the next episode of your favorite show. Don’t pick it apart, just let yourself be excited that something good is coming.
Start Cutting Yourself Some Slack
This one is tough for me. I have a tendency to blame myself for things I don’t have control over, or think that if someone is in a bad mood it must have been something I did, or assume that I should be doing something better than I am. I would never be so hard on someone else, so there’s no reason to turn it on myself. If someone around me is in a bad mood that doesn’t mean I did something wrong, maybe it’s on them. And the same goes for you.
Start Doing Things For You
I tried to think of a more elegant way to word this one, but this is what it boils down to. If you spend all day doing for other people – at work, at home, at school – you will eventually burn out. You’re spending all your time giving and none of it refilling. Start taking time for things that make you happy, I promise everything else will keep on ticking. It doesn’t have to be a full spa day or a Walden-like retreat, maybe you just want to read a magazine or take a yoga class. On Sunday afternoons when Marty’s watching football I have unofficial Arts and Crafts time. I pick some projects I’ve been pinning online and pull out my craft totes and play. Even though I’m not being productive in a traditional way I always feel great afterwards, and our house looks better for it too. Maybe crafts aren’t your thing, but find something that is and realize it’s okay to take the time to do it.
Play for no reason, create, love, laugh, take chances. You’re only here for so long, so quit worrying about how you look or what other people might think. Start using the good dishes on Thursdays, call somebody for no reason other than to say hi, write things on a blog that scare you a little, say what’s on your mind, and sometimes just dance in the living room because that commercial has a catchy beat. Realize your life is a product of what you make it, even when it doesn’t feel that way. And realize that while everyday is a chance to make things better sometimes it’s okay to just be.