In simple terms, our time is taken up by two kinds of activity – the important and the rest. In this post, we looked at how you can decide which is which.
You can remove a great deal of pressure in your life simply by zoning in on what matters most to you and minimising everything else.
But there’s another source of stress that simple living and minimalist advocates tend to gloss over. The everyday, often mudane, but still important, stuff of life.
We may minimise our possessions, but we still need to dust, do laundry and have the boiler serviced. Bills have to be paid, we need to go to work and the food shopping has to happen somehow.
Maybe we don’t often read about these things because they don’t make for exciting reading. Advertisers talk about them, of course: but only so that they can make them seem even more dull and stressful – and then sell us a holiday to get away from it all.
Too often we see the every day tasks of life as burdens. We think of them as things we “must do” or that we “have to do”. We resent their pull on our time. We try not to do them, but they claw at us, burrowing away in our mind, making us feel guilty for not doing them. Our to do lists can make us feel trapped, helpless, depressed.
We may even dream about leaving all our responsibilities for good, perhaps even walking out of our job or the family home, in a bid to shed these pressures. At the very least, we are vulnerable to the lure of temporary (and often expensive) “escapes” – holidays, alcohol or drugs, shopping, or gadgets which promise to ease these terrible impositions on our lives, or at least make them more fun (pink washing up gloves anyone?).
Looked at this way, the very foundations and structures of the lives we lead become just another source of overwhelm and stress.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can approach our every day life differently and set ourselves free.
Instead of doing your routine tasks because you “have to” (a burden), you can choose to do them out of love and appreciation (a blessing).
Too contrived? Unrealistic? No, just a simple change in attitude. Let me give you some examples.
- How would it feel if you decided you were going to clean your house because you were grateful to have one and you wanted to look after it?
- What if you chose to cook a healthy meal or exercise because you are grateful for your health and want to keep it that way?
- What if you chose to do a budget and keep accounts because you are grateful for the money you have and would like to have more?
- What if you chose to make time to listen to your husband/wife/child because you loved them and wanted to make sure they knew it?
- What if you chose to do your work because you were grateful to have a job which pays the bills and gives you the money to enjoy yourself and make others’ lives better?
- What if you happily paid for your boiler to be repaired because you were so grateful to have hot water and wanted to keep on having it?
When you stop and think about it, you more than likely are grateful for your health, your money, your family and friends, a job, hot water and for somewhere to live – if you have them. But when we have our burden glasses on, it’s easy to forget.
When we do things out of love and appreciation, we ask for nothing in return. We don’t do it for what it might get us later. We don’t get angry because our efforts are not appreciated; we are not keeping score.
We also know why we are doing what we are doing, and what we get out of it. We remind ourselves (and model to our children) that we have much to be grateful for and that what we have is worth looking after.
All of these lead to greater energy and happiness and less stress. And the work gets done just the same.
We may even discover through this process that we are spending time and money on things that we don’t love and aren’t grateful for – so we learn what we need to change or shed over time.
You may never love cleaning, but you can clean out of love. And that can make all the difference.