Hello Me, I’ve missed you.

Living a simple life is much more complicated than I originally anticipated, so here is to trying again.

I’ve realised that I can’t commit to waking up at 5am, 6am or even 7am every day. I can’t commit to exercising 3 or 4 times a week. I can’t commit to tracking my spending and keeping to a budget. And while I would like to, I also can’t commit to a long list of other things either – like eating healthy/vegetarian/keto meals, reading every day, living a minimalistic lifestyle, etc.

So I’m going to be real with myself – What can I (realistically) commit to?

I can and WILL commit to making more of an effort and try to do one thing a day that will improve my life in the long term in a holistic sense.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that somewhere between by early 20’s and my early 30’s, my focus changed. In my 20’s I was focused on being the best me that I could be and somehow through the last decade that has morphed from something holistic to a checklist of habits that I wanted to tick off. What happened to being a better person? When did that translate to getting up early in the morning, drinking lemon water, doing yoga, journaling, being a minimalist, following a plant-based diet, meditating, buying bulk foods and doing HIIT workouts?

When did I change my focus from who I am as a person to what habits I have as a person?

I know that when I got out of my last looonng term relationship, I needed to focus on discovering who I was as a person and building my independence. This naturally meant a great deal of time, energy and effort focused inwardly trying to find out what it was that I wanted, who I was as an individual and exercising the freedom and power to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, without consideration for what someone else wanted.

At that time, that was what I needed. However, I feel somewhere down that path I began to focus a little too much on what I wanted for a little too long, and now I am beginning to see that my time of self discovery has turned into selfishness and self-centred-ness. At some point I stopped caring what other people thought, even those close to me. I felt it was my right to do as I pleased, when I pleased, in the way that I saw fit.

I’ve had a few insightful moments of self-reflection lately and I am not happy with what I see. I have been more than a little too proud in claiming the title of independent, intelligent, strong and free. Somehow I thought to be that, I had to let go of caring, consideration, empathy, understanding and forgiveness. Now I’m seeing that in order to be independent, intelligent, strong and free, I need to be caring, considerate, empathetic, understanding and forgiving.

I took a step back and now I see a bigger picture. Sometimes, you need to take a step back in order to see yourself.

 

A Year of Simple – Part 2

Sorry, another long post – but I need to get it out of my head and off of my chest.
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When you take the time to slow down and stop for a moment, you create the space you need to actually see yourself and to clearly assess your life and priorities.

For the past month, I’ve had no choice but to stop and have some down time and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to do that. At first, I sat around not really knowing what to do, but as time went by my focus turned inwardly and I started to see myself for the first time in many, many years. Along with that my mind became more open – open to new ideas and possibilities – things I had previously not paid attention to or had dismissed as not being relevant to me.

During this time I’ve given myself the opportunity and the courtesy to be still and to really identify and understand what it is that I want and most importantly, who it is that I want to be.

What has changed?

For those familiar with the Myer Briggs personality types, I am an ENTP (click here for more info). I know some people may be skeptical about stuff like this, but the only reason I believe in it is because the personality description is so scarily accurate.

One of the most discernible traits of an ENTP is the ability to have ideas, to have a lot of them and then to explore every single one of them. For the past half a decade, that is exactly how I operated my life. The criteria against which I evaluated whether something or someone was part of my life was:

  1. Is it new?
  2. Is it interesting?
  3. Do I like it?

If the answer was ‘yes’ then it made it into my life – which basically meant a lot of crap (people and things) ended up in my life.

My latest revelation is that if I want to stop wasting my energy, time, resources and money, then I need to have a much more detailed criteria that needs to be met.

  1. Does it/this person add to my happiness, now and into the future?
  2. Does this resonate with the person I am or the person I want to become?
  3. Does this add value to my life?
  4. Is this in anyway detrimental to my life – mentally, emotionally, financially, health wise?
  5. Does this align with my goals and my values?

In effect, I am minimalising my whole life. I am casting a critical eye over everything in it and decluttering everything that doesn’t add value or bring me joy.

I understand now that in order to find happiness, I need to critique and curate what I let into my life. It can’t continue to be a free-for-all where anything remotely interesting gets added simply to alleviate boredom or to provide momentary entertainment because that’s the life equivalent of impulse shopping. And I do recognise that it will be hard to change those habits. I know there will be times where it’ll be much easier to give into what’s easy and “fun” and in those moments I know I’ll have some hard choices to make.

Another piece of inspiration I found a little over a year ago was a TED talk by Ruth Chang on how to make hard choices and it’s my second favourite TED talk. The last bit especially really struck a cord with me and it goes something like this:

“It’s here in the space of hard choices that we get to exercise our normative power – the power to create reasons for yourself, to make yourself the kind of person you want to be. ….When we choose between options that are on a par… we can put our very selves behind an option. ‘Here is where I stand, here’s who I am’. It is not dictated by reasons given to us, rather it is supported by reasons created by us… you might say we become the authors of our own lives.”

I have decided to take an active decision making role in my life from now onwards, instead of sitting back and just going with the flow. I will make the hard choices when necessary and I will be the author of my life. I know who I want to be and I am putting myself 100% behind that choice.