Wake up at 5:30 AM, do the dishes, fold the laundry, put the laundry away, start some more laundry, put the dishes away, exercise, meditate, make breakfast, clean up breakfast, order groceries, order household items, monitor the budget, check email, write a blog, send an email about the blog, take a yoga class, update the schedule, eat lunch, dust, vacuum, organize, and it goes on and on and on. This became my typical day off routine during the 2020 pandemic. All of this mixed in with a walk outside, helping kids with school, catching a moment with my husband, and maybe a rare moment to sit down and watch TV. But only about ten minutes of TV before I would feel the need to get up and keep going.
I have always been this way with the mentality of getting up as early as possible to get as many tasks done as possible. This would come with the thought that if I got up early to complete all of my tasks, I would surely have hours to just sit and do nothing. The reality is, I was not able to just sit and do nothing. I somehow equated success of a day with filling it with tasks. If I would not accomplish one of the above tasks while off work, I would judge my day. This is my routine and pattern, specific to me, but it is most likely similar to so many others’ day to day tasks as well. As humans, we are very task oriented and it is typical to judge our successes and accomplishments on how much we did, how much we earned, and how much we have.
As I started to peel away all of the to-do’s and spend a little more time on the meditate portion of that busy schedule above, I began to realize all of these tasks were not helpful in my well-being or happiness level. I mindfully reached a point where I realized success is not a measure of how much we do, how much we have, and how much we earn. Success is not really anything we need to feel or have. I didn’t need success. I didn’t need a check list filled with checked boxes. What I needed was to do what was necessary to do and not extend beyond that. I needed to enjoy the moments in-between the necessary and become aware of the moments within the necessary. I needed days empty of self-judgment. Days filled with contentment in doing a lot or doing a little. Moments noticed of just experiencing a moment noticed. Simplicity became my new “success.”
It took a moment, several moments, of telling myself it is ok to do things different, to not get every chore done in a morning, to just lay down sometimes and watch holiday movies, to make a dinner from a box instead of from scratch, to have a pile of laundry, to meditate for only five minutes, to do yoga in the evening instead of in the morning, to let go of stuff I no longer needed, to take a few months off from writing blogs, to shut down my social media account, and to tell myself you Kelsy are fantastic just the way you are. It is OK! Because simplicity is OK.
What I discovered was that I became more mindful than ever before. My heart opened wider than I have ever felt. I could enjoy each person I came in contact with on a deeper level. My meditation and yoga sessions felt clear and un-judged. I found contentment. Not 100 percent of the time, of course, but I found contentment much more often that I had previously. As this year draws to a close, I hope to close the long chapter of rigorous routine=personal success that I followed for so long. I hope to open to a new year of being content with things as they are and as they come. I hope this same thing for all of you.
There is a Scandinavian way of living called hygge (pronounced hue ga). It is basically a practice of enjoying everyday moments and simplicity of life. It is the ultimate in self-care and well-being. It is cozy socks, can’t-put-it-down books, favorite music, warm drinks, tasty treats, snuggling with loved ones, petting a furry friend, and mindful presence in all the in-between. This is simplicity. A favorite hygge book I have contains a beautiful Scandinavian proverb that sums it all up perfectly:
“Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Whine less, breathe more. Talk less, say more. Hate less, love more. And all good things are yours.”
May you find simplicity in your world and may all good things be yours.
I thought I would provide a list of ideas on finding some simplicity in your own world. Feel free to comment and share where you have found simplicity, if even just for a moment!
Simplify your thoughts-Our days are so often filled with judgment (towards ourselves and sometimes others), to-do’s, past memories, future dreams, worries, money counting, list making, etc. Start to notice times when your mind and thoughts start to “race” with these distractions. If there is something that keeps coming up or of importance, schedule a time where you can sit down and focus on that and until that schedule time, redirect your thoughts to the “now.” You can also utilize the breath in these moments; deepen your breath when your mind starts to interfere with life. Count your inhale, 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4. Exhale 1, 2, 3, 4. Breathe. Redirect all racing thoughts back to the count, back to the breath.
Simplify your “stuff”-De-cluttering things around you can be therapeutic in simplifying your world. Take a little time each day or here and there to go through things you do not use or need any longer. Donate unused items, throw things away, or repurpose items for homemade gifts/craft projects (great holiday money saver or cheap kids project idea!). For instance, old sheets, clothes, and curtains can become quilts or pillows. Rediscover your closet or hold a clothes swap (when/if safe-post-pandemic). I used to have clothes swaps with my sister-in-law and friends and it was so fun to get rid of things and find new treasures. Also practice releasing attachment to things that do not serve you any longer. If they are of sentimental value, try to find a new way to use or display them. For instance, create a gallery wall of kids artwork that is piled up on your dining room table.
Simplify your “to-dos”-identify what is most important to work on each day and prioritize tasks/eliminate unnecessary tasks. Release the thoughts that you have to accomplish everything in one day or by a certain time. Reduce goals to include one or two goals and devote your attention to those. Replace to-do’s with some “me time.” Make time for you a priority. Sleep in late sometimes. Ask for help from family, friends, and neighbors. It is ok to share tasks and responsibilities and it is ok that your day might include just watching a movie and eating take-out food. Treat yourself every now and then, you deserve it.
Simplify social media/electronic connection-this is one we have all heard before yet it is often hard to do. Know it is ok to un-plug for a while, whether that is 5 minutes, an hour, a week, or a year. Set an intention to reduce social media, email, news following, etc. and mindfully notice how you feel when you un-plug. As you practice a little at a time, you may start to increase the time away from the World Wide Web. Notice this. We have evolved into an attachment to the wide world of media but we are very capable of being without it. Explore ways to simplify this in your world.
These are just a few ways you can bring some simplicity into your life. I hope you can find some things to try. Whatever you try, make sure you do so without judgment. It is hard to simply things when we are used to a different way of life. There will be times when this is hard or feels impossible. Know that this is normal and to be expected. Try not to judge. Redirect self-judgment with positive words. Tell yourself that you are doing the best you can and with time you will find simplicity that works for you.
Whatever it is that complicates your life and your day-to-day (it is different for everyone) is something that I hope you can mindfully discover and simplify in whatever way works for you. I hope you can explore what brings you contentment, if even for just a moment of each day. For that one moment can fill your heart for much longer than days of complication. May you find simplicity in your journey. May you have a wonderful new year filled with all the beautiful things. May you let your light shine in your own heart each and every day. With my deepest gratitude, Namaste.