If you want to have the simple, deliberate life for which you’re destined, you’ll benefit from putting your life in order. That can mean many different things that you’ll mostly have to define for yourself, but we’ll talk a bit about order today anyway.
I may not post as often as I did, but I’ve started this nine or 10 part series of really interesting posts, and I’d like to eventually finish it. (I’ve already talked about solitude and silence.) But I also don’t want to push myself, ruin my simple life and write a bunch of nonsense that no one needs to read. I firmly oppose nonsense, as regular readers already know.
Order is one of the things that’s missing from the lives of most of the people you know, isn’t it?
Have you notice that just about everyone around seems to act as if they’re missing something? Their lives are filled with people and things, perhaps, but they don’t seem like whole people. They seem hollow, shallow or at least incomplete. For many of them, a little order would help them realize that the things they need are already available to them.
Putting your life in order, you see, helps you take inventory of what you really have. For most people, it’s plenty. For many of us, it’s way too much.
When you live a life that’s on auto-pilot, you’re not living an ordered life. When you live a life that’s based around a full-time job that determines your plans for you, you’re not living an ordered life. When you live a life in which family demands keep you from doing the things you really enjoy, you’re not living an ordered life.
Like I said, most people aren’t. But you can.
Take control of your life by:
Decluttering. I spent a year eliminating the physical and emotional junk from my life. Some of it has come back, of course, but much of it has stayed away. Decluttering removes the unnecessary things and their related tasks from your life so they never steal your time or energy again.
Setting Priorities. Is it more important to be financially secure or emotionally happy? Do you want to live as you are now for the rest of your life or do you want to find a different path? Do you let silliness like schedules and other people’s crises control your life when they should fall in line behind what you really want to do with your time?
Establishing Routines. Don’t get caught in other people’s plans or unintentional ruts, but establish ways of doing things in your life that bring mindfulness and a simple sense of order to every task. Create your own ways of washing dishes, checking your email and cooking your dinner that use your time efficiently.
Creating order in your life at every level — from the broad life-goals arena to the narrow daily-task cubicle — allows your brain to work better. When there’s less chaos in your ways of thinking, your brain can do what it does best even better.
Why do people only “put their affairs in order” when they see death approaching? There’s very little time left then to benefit from the comfort and peace of mind it brings. Put your affairs in order today and benefit now from the freedom that comes with simplicity.
Sure, there are reasons to bring in bouts of chaos, too, but we’ll talk about those next time.
Until we talk again, do you think you can find ways to live a simpler, more deliberate life by putting things in order? What does order mean for you? And are you already living an exceptionally ordered life? I look forward to your comments.
I’m not sure I can tell you where to find true silence. Do you know?
While we can find ways to obtain solitude that allow us a chance to process our progress, finding silence is trickier. Most of us have to settle for pleasant sounds that don’t distract us very much instead of true silence.
At this rate, my current series about “Seeking Simplicity” will take years. This series began with a post called Seeking Simplicity? Seek Solitude on October 2, 2012. Now, I have the next post in the series for you. It’s about time, don’t you think?
And by the way, this is not a rerun! The last post was about solitude, not silence — two very different things.
Perhaps seeking silence is more about the journey than the destination. And perhaps its more about mental peacefulness that a physical lack of sound coming into your ears.
If you know a place where there’s no sound to distract your brain from its simplest state, I hope you experience it frequently. The rest of us must seek out only mental quietness so we can enjoy the fruits of the simple life.
Silence Is A Lack Of Distraction
Many of us seek the simple life to eliminate distractions and help us reach the place deep within us where nothing hurts, no one is damaged and nonsense doesn’t matter. But with life’s players bustling around us and so few people concerned with inner peace, there’s always a distracting din of conversation, mindless chatter and useless noise to keep us from experiencing our lives fully.
Even when we miraculously find a quiet place to step away from it all for a few moments, our brains often won’t cooperate. Those “little grey cells” (with acknowledgment to Agatha Christie) keep creating, keep worrying and keep sending us impulses to do something, go somewhere or turn our attention to a specific topic.
Even when our world goes quiet for a moment, our minds won’t. So what can we do?
You Must Make A Choice
Most bloggers who write about simple, minimalist living suggest meditation to find and take advantage of silence. That’s something I try to do for at least a few minutes every day. But if you can’t or won’t do that, it’s not something you can be convinced to do by an article.
Instead, you’re left with a life from which you can’t possibly benefit — unless you can learn meditation or an alternative. Simplicity does no good when we can’t quiet our minds enough to contemplate its effects and consider what we’ve gained. To do that, we need solitude, silence and a few more things we’ll talk about in future posts, once I get around to them.
Are you willing to do what it takes to help your simple life soak into your core? Or do you prefer things as they are out there in the rest of the world — where people chatter incessantly, seek but never find and hope but do nothing to help themselves?
I choose to find some silence in my life and in my mind. Do you?
If you’re seeking simplicity, finding some solitude is essential.
Most of us seek simplicity because our lives are out of control or at least seem that way. Without some solitude, however, our brains can’t really register just how simple and uncluttered our lives are becoming. Does that make sense to you?
This is the first in a series of posts about some of the things that those of us who are on a journey toward simplicity must findl. I hope to offer posts on this topic throughout the fall and winter, but I reserve the right to change my mind — because I don’t need the potential of an unfulfilled promise to you complicating my life.
Step Away From The Silliness
Solitude allows for processing time. There’s no time to be grateful for what we have or to make plans for adjustments if we don’t find a bit of alone time.
The world, however, is a busy place filled with unbelievable silliness, and many of our homes match the nonsense level of the world at large.
If there’s not a child or spouse pining for our attention, there’s a dog or cat jumping in the middle of our meditation time. The right human or animal presences can enhance our feelings of comfort, peacefulness and well-being while the wrong ones at the wrong times can detract from it.
No one can join you in your solitude, however.
Not Necessarily About Absence Or Silence
Strangely, though, solitude doesn’t require being physically alone so much as it requires a mental separation from your surroundings.
Where you find it depends on your history with a location. The Starbucks down the street from your home can’t offer you any solitude if you go there often, know the employees and often see your neighbors there. But you can really think things through at the coffee shop across town where no one knows you and no one will engage you. You might be able to stare out the window and consider the progress you’re making in your life for hours before anyone will disrupt you.
Also strangely, solitude doesn’t necessarily require silence if your brain can block out background noise and aural clutter.
You’ll find some solitude today — even if for only a few moments — when you:
- close a door
- ask to be left alone
- go to an unfamiliar place
- drive or ride your bike aimlessly
- seek it because you know you need it.
Where do you find solitude? And does it help? For me, it’s an essential part of cutting through the silliness of life and getting down to a simpler state of mind.
As I told you last week, I’ve been writing more than ever in recent months, but very little of it has been here on So Much More Life. I’ve been writing a lot for clients, but I’ve also been writing and working on some other projects — and I want to tell you about some of them.
Gip’s Front Yard
If you’ve been paying close attention, you may know that I have a blog called Gip’s Front Yard where I dump out posts on all sort of topics that don’t fit anywhere else. Over the summer, four new posts found there way into my front yard. If you’re interested in exploring any of them, here are the links:
Recycled Books In Denton, Texas Is Hanging On, But…
September 4, 2012
Why Trader Joe’s Depresses Me
August 2, 2012
I also took some time this spring and summer to renovate a couple of domains that have been part of my life for years. Part of simplifying my online life has been to clean up messes I’ve left all over the Internet in years past.
The GayScribe Archive
First, I revisited the old GayScribe.com website that once served to promote my original career, writing for gay and lesbian newspaper. For years, this site has served an archive of some of my nearly-lost work in that genre, but it was designed in obsolete software.
Now, the site has been recreated using WordPress. It doesn’t look too good now, but the bones are strong and it can be made to look better as soon as I find the right theme.
As I locate old clips, I can also get even more of my old gay press articles online, preserving them for whatever value they have. I find that people still enjoy reading this content even if it’s sometimes out of date. The site gets more hits than it deserves, and I don’t quite know why.
Until the last couple of years, I made a great living selling books online. I never really developed my domain name for this business, however. For years, BookRescuer.com sat around wasting space on the Internet. Now, I’ve placed some useful articles about online bookselling at the site, and it’s already starting to get some hits.
The site desperately needs a better theme and some thought put into what else I want to say there, but it’s up, it’s good and I’m glad it’s serving a purpose.
Selling books may not be a big part of my future, but it seems right to share what I know.
I’ll share more about all my writing projects another time, but all this talk about the front yards, gay press and selling books is getting us a bit off topic, don’t you think?
Let’s get back to simple, deliberate living. And let’s do that really soon.
Welcome back. You may not have been away, but I have — sort of. I didn’t actually go anywhere.
As I prepare for my triumphant return to blogging about minimalist living and simple, deliberate lifestyle choices here at So Much More Life, I thought you might like to know what I’ve been doing this summer — and what you missed if you were also away from your computer recently.
I’ve been writing more than ever recently, although I can’t prove that too you. Much of my work has been text for writing clients who needed to enhance their websites, blog posts for clients who needed some help saying things well or other bits of writing to fill gaps in the world.
I’ve also been writing posts aimed at making money online in various ways, but most of those are published under other people’s names or with no name at all, so you won’t hear much from me about that topic. In addition, I’ve written some stuff that you will find under my name but in other locations, and I’ll tell you more about those projects in a future post.
For now, however, let’s concentrate on So Much More Life.
As you probably know, I took much of the summer off from blogging here, but a few posts did find their way onto this site in May, June, July and August. Some of them went unnoticed while others got a nice amount of attention. Here are links to the posts I published on this blog over the summer so you can go back and read the ones you missed:
Simple Living: Who Are The Relevant Voices Today?
August 21, 2012
How Do You Get Back On Track When You’ve Drifted?
July 31, 2012
Remember, They May Not Know A Better Way
July 10, 2012
My Absence Is About Respecting My Audience
June 19, 2012
Do You Suffer From Dead Sea Financial Syndrome?
May 29, 2012
I hope these gives you something from me to chew on until I return to regular blogging. In the meantime, keep looking for ways to simplify your life.
My life has had some challenges in recent month — mostly financial — but things are looking up.
Looking up, in fact, is good advice no matter your situation.
The New Tagline
If you read my posts on the site instead of by email or RSS, you might have noticed that the tagline for So Much More Life has changed. The new tagline — “Don’t be silly. Be simple.” — is actually based on a suggestion from Robert Wall of Untitled Minimalism, a longtime blogging friend.
I don’t suppose he was serious when he suggested “don’t be silly” as a tagline for this blog, but he recognized my dislike for the sillier things in life, and his suggestion didn’t seem silly to me at all.
I recognize silliness when I see it, but this tagline is brilliant.
I was inspired to blog about simple living and minimalism by a handful of other bloggers who wrote sincerely about the topic. But where have those voices gone? And who are today’s leaders of the minimalist lifestyle? Touching base with others who are on similar journeys is part of a simple, deliberate life.
Of that small group of writers who inspired me to start blogging about my increasingly simple life, Josh Becker is the only one still writing on the topic. His blog, Becoming Minimalist, may not be what it once was, but at least he’s still out there. I can’t recommend it, but I commend him for sticking with it.
I liked David Damron’s writing on The Minimalist Path, but he left the scene. I was never fully committed to Everett Bogue’s work on Far Beyond The Stars, but I liked some of it — before he dissolved into a different sort of writing style and a different kind of lifestyle that somehow resulted in the loss of some letters from his name. (He’s known as Ev Bogue now, I’m told, but I couldn’t say what he’s been up to.)
I can remember a few other names too, but you’re unlikely to remember the short-lived blogs associated with them, so I won’t mention them.
Perhaps I was once something of leader in this field too, but I haven’t been posting as much recently — and I had already noticed a big turnover in my readership anyway. Did I get too radical? Did I go off-point? Did the quality of my writing decrease? Did some of you simply lose interest in me?
A few of the bloggers who started around the same time I did are still around, still writing and still making a difference. That’s great. Sound off in the comments section to remind my readers that you’re here.
But I can’t really say who the leaders of simple living blogging are today. Can you? I’d love to hear you opinions.
Maybe we don’t really need any leaders. We all have equal footing in the blogging world, so why would leaders be necessary?
Or maybe I’m a leader and don’t even know it.
Could it be that you’re poised to be a leader in minimalist thinking but aren’t taking your place or your responsibility seriously?
What do you think? Please express your opinion about which voices are leading the simple living community today.
If I’ve let you down by posting infrequently this summer, I’m sorry. I accept my responsibility to share what I’m learning about living a simpler life.
And I’ll be back — very soon.
Knowing how to get yourself back on track when your life has drifted away from your best path for an hour, a day or a week is an important part of living a simple deliberate life.
How do you press the reset button on your life when things get out of control for you?
For me, walking, rest and meditation are how I usually do it.
Here We Go Again
I’ve always been keenly aware of when I’m living up to my potential and when I’m not. To put it another way, I know when things are going well and when they aren’t.
Still, I sometimes let things slip out of control for a few hours — maybe even for a few days.
The idea for this post came to me Monday afternoon when I was trying to remember how to get rid of that pain between my eyes, in my shoulders and in my stomach that probably feels very much like a hangover. I don’t drink, so I’ve never been drunk, but when I eat too much or sleep too little, I get this feeling. If it’s anything like a hangover, I never want to be drunk.
Sunday night, I ate too much at a party, and something kept me awake during the night. I know those things cause me to feel bad the next day, so I also get anxiety about how intense the symptoms will be when they hit me. It’s a downward spiral that I can sometimes pull out of quickly and something have to deal with for a day or two.
It’s a feeling that every part of my body is functioning at a less than its best. And it makes me mad. “Here we go again,” I always think. “Surely I’m too smart to let this happen again.”
But apparently, I sometimes need reminders of how much I dislike feeling sick.
After a walk and two naps, I felt pretty good by Monday evening. Once I’m caught up on sleep, I’ll probably be able to concentrate enough to meditate away any remaining symptoms.
What About You?
For me, a walk loosens my stiff muscles and get my juices moving again, eliminating some of that icky feeling that comes from momentarily living out of control. Some rest clears the pain in my head that signals a lack of sleep and a lack of focus. Then, some time in meditation allows me to reboot my brain, forgive myself for taking actions that I know lead to unpleasant consequences and put my brief moments of discomfort in a broader perspective.
Of course, a couple of Tylenol often help too.
But what about you?
If this talk of rebooting and poor decisions makes no sense to you, that could mean one of two things. Maybe you don’t ever get out of sync with your best path. Or maybe you haven’t yet analyzed your life closely enough to realize that your aches, pains and illnesses are often the result of your own actions and can be managed by your actions too. Which is it?
I suspect most of you know exactly what I mean, however. You know when your unpleasantness is the result of your own actions, and you know how to put things right.
What does it take for you? How do you bring your life back into line when it gets wobbly or worse?
Walking, resting and meditating have a profound impact on my life. I hope there’s a process in your life that impacts you just as much when things are a bit off.
And I hope you’ll tell us about it in the comments section.
It’s easy to be judgmental about those whose lives are out of control. In fact, referring to people who spend frivolously, waste carelessly and meander through life aimlessly as “out of control” includes a bit of judgment.
But have you considered that they may not know a better way? How would they?
If their parents taught them to spend instead of think, shop instead of fix and outsource instead of becoming resourceful, can you be sure they have had access to an influence in their adult lives that taught them about the joys of simple, deliberate living?
The Two (Mundane) Examples
On a break from writing last Thursday, I turned on the TV for a few minutes.
Afternoon TV often makes me sad. Why would anyone want to see Manny or whatever his name is do a paternity test on six rainbow-colored men hoping one is the father of the mauve-colored love baby just born into an entirely green clan of people?
But I digress.
Within minutes, I saw two things that made me wonder just how out of touch I am with the world’s out-of-control element.
First was a commercial for a moderately priced clothing chain announcing that it would give you $10 in fake cash of some kind for every $50 of real money you spend with them.
When was the last time I spent $50 on clothes? I can’t remember. And what would I do with this $10 of store credit? If I bought $50 of clothes this week, I wouldn’t need any more for at least a year.
Are there people in the world who don’t know about thrift stores or making things last for years?
Second was a chef demonstrating how to cut up a bell pepper. Chop off the ends, he said, remove the core, then slice the pepper. That sounds right to me, except he threw away the top and bottom, losing at least 30 percent of the pepper. Do you want to eat at a restaurant where they can afford to do that? You can slice the flat piece at the top and the funny looking piece at the bottom into strips too.
Even if this pseudo-celebrity chef has unlimited money, surely a person trained to respect food would respect the effort that went into growing that pepper and use all of it that’s usable, wouldn’t he?
But Who Would Have Taught Them?
Respecting ourselves, respecting our money and respecting natural resources isn’t automatic for some people. We’re probably born knowing about these things, but in some families all respect for life and possessions is drilled out of the children by careless and reckless parents who don’t display a good example.
You aren’t one of those parents, are you? You aren’t someone who displays a bad example of gluttony and excess to world, are you?
But what are you doing about it? Remember, those who propose things foreign to you and act in ways that seem strange or even ridiculous to you may not know a better way.
How can the world learn better ways to live if no one is willing to teach? I have a blog about simple, deliberate living, but I’m often just preaching to the choir here. What do you do? And does it help?
There ought to be someone showing those whose lives are out of control that there’s a better way. Who do you think should be doing that?
Miss hearing from me? I’ve been writing less for So Much More Life this summer so I can develop some other projects. Read My Absence Is About Respecting My Audience for more about why this blog has slowed down recently.
I usually post once a week, but you may have noticed I’ve skipped several weeks recently. There are a number of reasons for that, but the primary one is this: I haven’t had anything new or interesting to say.
My recent series of Best Decisions posts was well received and gave me the opportunity to revisit some of my best posts from my time blogging at So Much More Life. I’ve probably made even more good decisions than I wrote about, and I’ll mention those to you when they come to my attention.
There are also lots of topics related to simple, minimalist living that I haven’t visited. I’ll get to those some day — when the mood strikes me.
In addition, I’ve been writing a lot for other projects, trying to stabilize my income and get my financial life moving in the right direction again. After writing articles and posts all day long, writing another one for this blog — especially when there’s nothing particular on my mind — doesn’t seem appealing.
Of course, I also realize that fewer of you are reading in the summer. There are lots of things to do outside, perhaps with others who are important to you, that come before reading another blog post from one of the many voices suggesting that you to live more simply and enjoy your life more than ever before.
During the weeks I haven’t posted I could have :
- rehashed something I wrote before.
- written a thin post with links to lots of old posts.
- rambled on about a topic that’s not quite, uh, on topic.
But I didn’t.
I respect you enough to keep quiet when I have nothing to contribute to the conversation. And for that reason, I think I’ll leave this at that.
Have a great summer. I’ll be with you when my simple, deliberate life doesn’t call me elsewhere — and when I have something to say.
Do you believe there’s a universal flow in which we can choose to stand? Do you believe a life that only takes is destined to be less successful than one that’s also always giving? Do you think people spend too much time worrying about this sort of nonsense and not enough time actually creating, working, playing and benefiting from what they have?
This is a post of questions rather than answers, so let me ask you this: Do you think you suffer from Dead Sea Financial Syndrome?
If you’ve spent much time around any kind of spiritual community, you’ve probably heard a speaker or preacher mention some of the Dead Sea’s unique properties.
The Dead Sea, as you probably know, supports only a narrow and very specific band of life because it’s very salty. For most life forms, it’s too salty. One of the reasons it’s so harsh is that no streams flow out of it. Water comes into it from the Jordan River and from a few streams and springs, but the Dead Sea only takes. Nothing flows out of it.
You can see how the Dead Sea — located in a land that’s holy for many people, no less — fits nicely into a sermon. The Dead Sea is dead (figuratively, although not exactly literally) because it’s a taker, not a giver.
Are you a taker and not a giver? If so, you may suffer from Dead Sea Financial Syndrome.
Those who prefer to place life’s big issues in metaphysical terms talk about a universal flow. There’s a flow of good things available to everyone, they say, but we sometimes step out of it or cause it to grind to a halt. If we take actions that aren’t consistent with the good, we step out of the flow. If we take but don’t give, we constrict it.
Do you believe that? Or is it just a bunch of nonsense?
Could those new billionaires who made the news recently really be standing in the flow? Could that old real estate mogul with that funny thing about him really understand one of life’s most powerful metaphysical principles? Or do these people have money and things because they worked hard and got lucky? Would they be even luckier if they’d found simple, deliberate living before they found billions?
I wonder something: Do you suffer from Dead Sea Financial Syndrome? Have you stepped out of the flow?
This is a post of questions rather than answers, but I can tell you this: I’ve sometimes basked in the principles of poverty rather than standing in the flow of life’s good things.
Sure, good things want so desperately to find me that a few spring forth even when I’m not participating in the flow, but how many more are waiting for me when I step onto a better path?